Hurricane Kit for Your Car
by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law
My first piece of advise is to not go out in hurricanes or the heavy rains that accompanies them. That said, there are times when you may be forced to venture out or times when you go out even against your better judgment. This page is designed to help you think about what you need when you chance fate. But never forget that people die in street floods. We've all seen people trapped on top of their cars on the evening news. Think real hard before you decide it can't happen to you.
I have listed these supplies to cover two likely scenarios. One is that you will drive into high water and your car will stall and you will have to abandon it. The other likely scenario is that the drivers in front of you will have stopped and abandoned their cars and you are trapped in a line of cars and can't back up. You will be high and dry but stuck in your car.
Some things on my list are needed only if you have to leave your car. Some are useful only if you stay with your car. Because no one knows which scenario you will face, you are better off if you prepare for both.
Two other points: (1) If you drive into high water and your car keeps going be sure to "dry" your brakes out by lightly pressing on the brake pedal for several blocks, or until you get your brakes back; (2) If your car stalls out from water getting into it don't try to restart it after the water has receded. Automotive experts say that will cause major damage to several systems, including expensive on-board computer systems. Have the car towed and dried professionally.
_____ Flashlight (Get a small one that will fit in your glove box.)
_____ Whistle. Your lungs may give out from yelling to be rescued. Also, whistles can be heard better than shouting in strong wind.
_____ A couple of bottles of water.
_____ Bandanna or handkerchief to wipe rain off your glasses.
_____ Houston street map to figure out alternate routes if water has blocked off your primary route.
_____ Vest with safety reflectors like bike riders wear. You will need this if you have to abandon your car at night.
_____ Power Bars or similar meal replacement bars.
_____ Fix a Flat to repair flat tire.
_____ Insect repellant. (If you have to walk the mosquitoes are likely to be bad.)
_____ Nylon rope. (If you get stranded you may be able to throw the rope to someone on the bank so they can haul you to safety. Learn to tie a bowline knot so the rope around your waist doesn't pull tight and harm you.)
_____ Flares or light sticks.
_____ Towels to dry yourself off. You know that at some point you will get out of your car to check things out. Drying off once you get back in the car will help make the situation less miserable. Take two towels. A hand towel is good for drying hair and face. A bath towel may be needed for major wetness.
_____ Make sure your car phone has a full charge or that you have the cigarette lighter extension.
_____ Full tank of gas. You don't know how long it may have to last. If you have less than a full tank get to a gas station and fill up.
_____ Transistor radio. Sure you have a car radio, but rising water may kill your car's electrical system or your battery may run dead. You will want to know what is going on.
_____ Rip out your yellow pages ads for tow trucks. You may have to call several to find one who can get to you within any reasonable amount of time.
_____ A book or magazine to read if you get stuck in your car.
_____ Small first aid kit.
_____ Leather gloves.
_____ Cap with a bill to help keep the rain out of your eyes.
_____ Rain jacket
_____ Large Zip-Lock bag to put wallet in if you have to wade in water.
_____ Wind-proof umbrella.
_____ Extra pair of socks. Dry feet are a blessing.
_____ Shoes that you can get wet. Why ruin your dress shoes?
_____ Quarters for pay phones. It is easy to store quarters in the glove box inside one of those plastic film canisters from a roll of 35mm film.
_____ Swiss army knife.
_____ Butane lighter.
_____ Get a fanny pack or back pack to haul essential items if you have to leave the car.
_____ Thirty gallon or larger trash sack. Cut a hole in the end and you have a poncho. Use it as is to keep stuff relatively dry if you have to leave your car.
_____ Toilet paper
_____ Paper towels
_____ Signal mirror. If you have to be rescued at night this could come in handy. Camping supply departments sell cheap ones.