Vehicle Preparedness

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This document was produced in cooperation with the Emergency Management Division of the Washington State Military Department.

When planning for emergencies, don't forget your vehicle: make sure your car, truck or van is in good working order, and keep an emergency supply kit handy.

Get your vehicle ready

  • Keep a emergency supply kit in your vehicle.
  • Prepare to be on your own for at least 24 hours.
  • Write the date on all food and water stored in your kit. Replace items every six months.
  • Keep food items in airtight plastic bags inside your kit.

Emergency supplies for your vehicle

  • One gallon of water per person. Store water in large soft-drink containers. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles.
  • Emergency food. Avoid foods that will make you thirsty. Choose whole grain cereals and foods with high liquid content. Include food for infants and others with special diets.
  • Small shovel, jumper cables, tow chain
  • Road flare
  • Battery-operated radio/extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • ABC-type fire extinguisher
  • Whistle
  • Plastic storage bags
  • Cash and change for phones
  • A supply of vital medications
  • Sturdy shoes, socks, work gloves
  • Rain gear
  • Mylar blankets, plastic shelter tarps
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Latex gloves (at least 2 pair)
  • Map of the area (for locating shelters)
  • Compass
  • Games and books for kids
  • Pet supplies
  • Toilet paper, towelettes
  • Feminine and personal hygiene items
  • Infant diapers and wipes

Driving in difficult conditions

  • Drive with your headlights on.
  • Fill the fuel tank before entering open country. Stop to fill up long before the tank begins to run low.
  • Don't try to out-drive the conditions.
  • Start early. Remember the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.
  • Leave plenty of room to stop.
  • Brake carefully. It takes more time to stop in adverse conditions.
  • Look farther ahead in traffic than you normally do to gain extra time to safely react to situations.
  • Drive cautiously near trucks. Avoid cutting quickly in front of them.

Winter driving

  • Be prepared with good winter tires, chains, a scraper, and a bag of sand for traction on ice.
  • Carry extra winter clothing — the first rule of winter comfort and survival is to stay dry.
  • Don't use cruise control in wintry conditions. A brief touch of your brakes to deactivate the cruise control feature can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
  • Remember: A four-wheel drive vehicle can -lose traction on ice just as easily as a two-wheel drive vehicle.
  • Make sure your car is in good working condition. Check these:
Ignition system Antifreeze
Fuel system Wiper blades
Belts Washer fluid
Fluid levels Tire tread/pressure
Brakes Defroster
Exhaust system Proper grade oil
Battery Cooling

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(All files are PDF.)

DOH Pub 821-047
Revised - March 2008
Reviewed annually