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Top five things to keep in your truck to stay safe on the road

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From semi-truck drivers to pickup truck owners, and anywhere in between, the open road is riddled with risk. If you travel long distances in your rig or are behind the wheel a lot, emergency situation preparation is a mandatory part of safe driving.

From high-visibility clothing to have the appropriate tools on hand, as well as emergency food and water, the more prepared you are, the better your chances are of successfully addressing a crisis.

The following is a rundown of the various emergency kits, materials, and supplies every truck driver and the owner should have on hand if they want to be ready for an unexpected situation.

1. Emergency clothing kit

A clothing kit is particularly important if you drive long distances, or may be prone to encountering inclement weather or situational extremes.

Breaking down in the middle of North Dakota during a blizzard, changing a tire, or working on a shifted load on the side of a busy highway is more than just inconvenient. These scenarios, as well as dozens of other situations, could be life-threatening. Or at least, they could make you physically uncomfortable.

Your emergency clothing kit should include the following to address these scenarios and others.

For working outside on the side of the road or in the elements:

● Reflective vest and jacket

● Poncho

● Sunglasses

● Hat (winter and summer sun versions)

● Work and winter gloves

For when traveling in colder weather:

● Long underwear

● Solar or shock blanket (in addition to a regular blanket)

● Winter coat

For general comfort, if you must stay overnight in your vehicle:

● Blanket (2 if you have the room, with each blanket being large enough to cover two people)

● Change of Clothes (should be designed to dry and warm a person quickly)

● Pillow

Obviously, this list covers those who travel in areas that can get cold at night or during the fall, winter, or spring. If you travel in a warmer climate, you might not need everything listed. Just adapt and modify the list depending on where you are traveling.

2. Complete tool kit

While most major truck breakdowns result in the rig getting hauled to the shop, there are some issues that drivers can address themselves, if only to keep the rig running long enough to complete a job.

For work on your truck:

● Set of pliers

● Set of wrenches

● Set of screwdrivers

● Hammer

Additionally, a small cache of commonly used spare parts and a traction plate for snowy/icy or muddy situations is never a bad idea.

For better visibility (for you and for your rig):

● Road Flares

● Reflective equipment (cones, triangles, etc.)

● Flashlight

For recharging a battery or using electronics:

● Portable charger and air compressor (with standard outlets and USB ports)

● Extra charger cords and charging block

Depending on how much room you have based on the type of truck you drive or load you usually haul, additional tools and materials like a tire pressure gauge, miscellaneous fluids (brake, coolant, oil, window washer,), etc. can be of great use.

3. First aid and general living kit

You work around trucks and know the injuries that can happen if you are not careful. You also know how long trips and visits to restaurants or hotels can expose you to germs.

Then, there are the normal aspects of being, well… human. Headaches, allergic reactions, an upset stomach, and more can turn time behind the wheel into a really unpleasant drive. That’s why having a first aid and general living list tailored to your specific needs is essential. This will help cover the most common injuries, illnesses, or unexpected calls of nature.

Most standard-issue first aid kits will have the majority of the materials needed to treat injuries or simple illnesses. You may have to add a second container of equipment and materials not included, such as tweezers, thermometers, and more.

For minor injuries:

● Antibacterial soap and gel (Neosporin, for example)

● Disinfectant wipes

● Bandages

● Rubbing alcohol

In addition, your kit would benefit from the following:

● Gauze

● Tape

● Scissors, tweezers, and a thermometer

For minor illnesses or other health-related issues:

● Pain reliever (Advil, Tylenol, etc.)

● Anti-diarrheal

● Stomach medicine

● Anti-gas medicine

For everyday living:

● Dish soap

● Paper towels

● A roll of toilet tissue

For hygiene:

● Washcloth and towel

● Shampoo

● A bar of soap for washing

● Deodorant

4. Emergency survival kit

If you travel long distances, you could encounter a weather event or mechanical issue that leaves you stranded. There’s no need to wait for someone to come along and help if you have the following survival tools on hand.

Survival foods:

● Non-perishable food

● Water and water purification tablets

● Energy and protein bars

To help you survive a situation where you are stranded in an extreme environment:

● Firestarter and tinder

● Reflective mirror

● Multi-tool

● Standard pocket or fixed-blade knife

The following are additional items you will find of use in most situations where you have to make an unplanned stop:

● Can opener

● Personal documents

● File folders, notebooks, pens, and other paperwork

● Extra cash (small bills and large)

● Road Atlas (in case of zero power or satellite service)

5. Electronics and navigation survival kit

Lastly, electronics are necessary equipment. Even if it is just for an unplanned stay at a hotel, the following basics should be in your rig.

Charging and visibility:

● LED flashlight and batteries

● Portable chargers

● Phone chargers

● Phone charger cords

For navigation, planning, and keeping in touch with the outside world:

● Smartphone

● Atlas for if GPS goes out

● Laptop

In addition, you may want to pack electronics and other items such as extra earphones, reading material, etc.

How to store materials in your truck

Most of the items on these lists are easily stored in duffel bags or plastic storage bins and stowed in small spaces in your rig. Group items together (for instance, all your summer clothes in one bag and all your winter clothes in another) so you can mix and match depending on your trip and its duration.

Final thoughts

While most long trips are uneventful and packing additional gear is time-consuming, the importance of being properly prepared for an emergency cannot be overlooked. Granted, the tools and materials on this list are what many may consider “the basics” for most common roadside emergencies.

Preparing for whatever happens next will make your drive easier, more comfortable, and safer. This is why the items on these lists go a long way toward aiding in that effort.

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