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How To Prepare for Roadside Emergencies

Power - by Joe Weber - updated on 3/28/2023

Car on the side of the road with a hazard cone

It's inevitable. At some point in our lives, we will have to deal with some form of roadside emergency. Roadtrip season is around the corner, be prepared by being ready for some of the most common emergencies you may encounter.

Whether it's just a flat tire, a dead battery or a collision with another vehicle, there's no way to sugarcoat it, it's going to happen at some point. It's best to be prepared and to know what to expect in those situations so you can focus on making sure everyone is safe and calm.

What Are Some Common Roadside Emergencies and How Can I Prepare?

One of the most important things that you or anyone with you can do is to remain calm in any roadside emergency situation. If you are in an accident, make sure that everyone is okay and can move to a safe location out of danger.

Dead Battery

Everyone should always have jumper cables in the trunk so you can jump your car with the help of another car. Even better would be a jump starter so you can easily jump your car to get back home when there isn't another car nearby.

When your car battery is dead, it's important to get it jumped and drive over to Batteries Plus to have your battery tested to see if this could be the sign to replace your battery.

Flat Tire

Arguably the most common issue that drivers will face is a flat tire. It can happen to anyone at any time. Most vehicles come with the tools you need to put your spare tire on. A few tips to help make this less stressful:

  • Make sure you are pulled over to a safe and flat location away from traffic if possible.
  • Know where the spare tire and jack are located.
  • If you are on the side of the road, have a high-visibility vest to wear or emergency triangles on the ground so others can see you.

Engine Overheats

This is a very nerve-wracking experience and it's not always easy to tell that your engine is overheating. We don't always pay attention to the coolant temperature gauge on the dashboard and your first sign of trouble could be the site of steam coming out of your hood. It's always helpful to have extra coolant in the trunk for emergencies.

  1. Pull over immediately at the first site of steam or the coolant temperature gauge is showing overheating.
    • Turn off the A/C and turn ON the heater. It may be uncomfortable in hot weather but this will force excess heat from the engine into the passenger compartment.
  2. Shut the engine off. Leaving the engine running will only make the engine heat up more. Turn it off immediately.
  3. Let the engine cool before opening the hood. This is very important. Steam can cause serious burns and for your safety, you do not want to open the hood until the engine has had time to cool down.
  4. Check coolant levels. Once the engine is cool, pop the hood and check the levels in the coolant reservoir and add if necessary.
  5. Call a tow truck right away and have your car towed to the nearest mechanic.
  6. If you absolutely must keep driving, very carefully, remove the radiator cap. Go slow as pressure has built up in the cooling system and hot coolant can spray out if you go too fast. More than likely, the radiator will be low or empty if the engine overheats but it's always better to be safe.

Refill the radiator with coolant, or water if you don't have coolant, and replace the radiator cap. This should reduce the engine temperature but proceed with caution and have the cooling system looked at as soon as possible.

Ran Out Of Gas

Hopefully, this doesn't happen to you, but it's possible. We get so distracted with everything that's going on that we forget to check the gas before we head out. If this does happen to you:

  • Pull over and park right away.
  • Call someone to either bring you gas or pick you up to go get gas.
    • We all have smartphones, it's easy to find the nearest gas station when you can buy a gas can to use this time and for future incidents.
  • If close enough and in a safe area, you could walk to the gas station.
  • If all else fails, call a tow truck or a service like AAA   if you are a member.

Car Accident

If you are in an accident first make sure everyone is ok then call 911 immediately to take statements. Even small accidents can have lasting consequences. It's best to have a record.

  • Take plenty of photos.
  • If the other driver admits fault, make sure the police record what is said.
  • Report the accident to your insurance company. Many policies require that they be notified of a crash.

Expert Tips

To make things easier on you during this stressful time, remember these very important tips.

  1. Never admit fault. It's an easy mistake to say something that can be used against you.
  2. Never leave the scene.
  3. Don't let the other driver leave but don't cause an altercation. If the other driver does leave, try to note the license plate for the police.
  4. If you feel like you need extra help, call an attorney.

Listen to the Experts

We just gave you a lot of information on how to handle certain roadside emergencies but don't take our word for it; listen to those who deal with this stuff every day. In an interview with Farmers Insurance  , Lieutenant Matt Hamilton of the Ohio State Highway Patrol walks everyone through 6 tips to staying safe during roadside emergencies.

Have An Emergency Kit In Your Car

Having the necessary items you need to handle certain situations when you are out on your own is very important. In "What Should Be In My Vehicle Emergency Kit?" we will walk you through which items you should have in your vehicle emergency kit to make sure you are always ready for anything.

If you don't know where to start, this National Safety Council   post that details all of the items that you should keep in your kit.

How Can Batteries Plus Help with Roadside Emergencies?

Stop by your local Batteries Plus and pick up some of your emergency kit items like jumper cables, jump starters, phone chargers and flashlights. While you are at the store, have us test your battery for you to see how it fares. If it's time for a new battery, we have a large selection of car and truck batteries for your vehicle and we'll even install the battery for you while you're there.

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