When you are getting yourself ready for hurricane season, it’s possible to get caught up in protecting your house and ensuring you’re stocked with basic supplies. You may totally forget about your vehicle. This is actually a great mistake — in a natural disaster, your vehicle might be your saving grace.
If you get caught in an extreme weather, having a stocked, maintained, and ready-to-go car can make all the difference in getting you to safety. Below are tips on how you can prepare your vehicle for hurricane season.
- Keep your car maintained
Before hurricane season begins, do a basic maintenance check. Get the oil replaced, top off the wiper fluid, inspect the tire pressure, and clean the battery terminals. If you’re mechanically inclined and have the tools, you can do these tasks yourself; while you do, inspect some other basics. Otherwise, take it to your mechanic to get an oil change and an inspection.
Equally consider checking:
- Age and alignment of tires
- Windshield wipers
- The spare tire
- Age of battery
- Fluids: wiper fluid, coolant, oil
- Condition of hoses and belts
- The air conditioning/heating system
If you’ve been putting aside a car repair because of time or budget constraints, it’s time to dig in and make it happen. You require reliable transportation. Book an appointment to take your vehicle in as soon as you can.
- Keep it fully fueled
Now think too about how much fuel you can safely store. In inclement conditions, gas becomes a high-demand stuff quickly. Keep your vehicle’s tank above the halfway mark until hurricane season is over. Get a gas can or two and keep them filled, and follow these basic safety rules:
- Only use approved containers, and keep them outside or in your garage or shed.
- Keep them away from children, and don’t store them near pilot lights or ignition sources.
- Don’t store gas indefinitely; because it goes bad.
- Periodically use what’s in the cans to fill your vehicle, and then refill the cans.
- Keep it insured
Ensure your auto insurance is up to date. Print out a copy of your policy information and keep it tucked in the glove box of your vehicle. It might not be easy to access your personal files if you have to evacuate. With your insurance information on hand, even if your vehicle is damaged, you can start the coverage process immediately.
- Keep it stocked
The next move in prepping your vehicle for hurricane season is to consider what you might need if you have to quickly evacuate, or if you’re not able to get to your house for some time.
You can buy a pre-packed emergency kit, or create your own emergency kit. Stock your kit with first-aid and any medication that your family members might require.
Below are some other smart items to include:
- Solar-powered lights
- Portable water filter or water purification tablets
- Strong flashlight with extra batteries
- Power inverter
- Battery-powered fan
- Battery packs for your mobile devices
- Ponchos for every member of the family
- Small toys and games for children
It’s equally a good idea to have a couple of quarts of oil on hand, so you can top off your oil, if required. Check that you have everything for changing a tire, too: a tire iron, a jack, and (of course) a spare tire. A good set of jumper cables is also a must. If you don’t require them, chances are someone else will. Weathering a storm is all about helping one another.
- Prep for meals and clothes
Keep some food basics in your vehicle, as well. Begin with bottled water, then add some nonperishable items that won’t be damaged by heat. Dried fruit, nuts, beef jerky, and crackers work well. Protein gels can be helpful, too. The goal is maximum nutrition for minimal space.
You might have already packed a go-bag for each person in your family, kept in your home. Consider packing a family version as well to keep in the car: one duffel bag that can stay in the trunk. For every member of the family, include two (or more) sets of clothes, a pair of sturdy shoes, extra socks, basic hygiene supplies, and a copy of identification. Finally, include a prepaid mobile phone, a short list of important phone numbers, and a paper map with evacuation routes for your area highlighted.
- Stash some cash
Don’t forget about money. Hurricanes and tropical storms can damage telecommunication lines and towers; if that happens, you may not be able to get cash from an ATM or even from your bank until repairs are completed. Keep a stash of cash hidden safely in your vehicle. Consider at least $200 per person, where possible.
- Check for shelter
The incredibly strong winds that lands with a hurricane can cause all sorts of stuffs to fly through the air. If you’re going to wait out the weather, park your vehicle in a sheltered area. A covered garage is ideal.
If that’s not easily available, secure a tarp over your vehicle to protect the paint. Parking it close to a building can offer some shelter from wind, but beware too of balconies or signage that might fall off and spoil your vehicle.