When our kids were little, we never went anywhere without our Ever Ready Pack, stocked with everything from an emergency blanket and first aid kit, to granola bars, duct tape and small hand tools. By the time the kids hit their late teens and were driving on their own and capable of taking care of themselves, the Ever Ready Pack was somehow relegated to a closet, probably after having been relocated from the trunk to make room for something we were hauling.
Then a week ago, on the way to Miami, we had a flat tire. It was a little hairy for an hour or so, but we swapped it out fine, wobbled into a tire shop with the spare donut and got a new one without much hassle. But when I couldn't locate a first aid kit, flashlight and some useful tools, that got me to thinking about our Ever Ready Pack, and how it really is nice to have an emergency kit in the car.
So when I got back home, I dug the old Ever Ready out of the closet and took inventory, then restocked it, as per this Instructable.
There's a couple of different versions on Instructables already - the Auto Emergency Survival Kit , a Zombie Apocalypse Disaster Preparedness kit, and a variety of small emergency kits. But the Ever Ready Kit is your more garden variety "I'm-stuck-on-the-side-of-the-road-for-a-few-hours" kind of readiness kit, with the basics for simple repairs, first aid, safety and convenience. It's a great family-safety kit, easy to customize and adds just the right level of extra security for those long road trips. So grab that old back pack, and start stocking.
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Step 1: Materials
You'll need a good, durable, roomy back pack, with more open space than pockets, preferably. The following recommended basics are grouped by category, rather than provided as a long list of individual items. It's easy to get carried away and overstock with things you'll never use. Adapt as needed and desired, but having something in each of the categories below pretty much covers it all. We'll look at a couple of the subgroups individually in the next couple of steps.
- Health & Safety - First Aid Kit, as well asincluding hand cleaner (wipes and liquid, which have different multipurpose value), sunscreen and bug spray (in zip lock bag in case they leak), and a whistle or other loud noise device
- Outdoor readiness - Lighter and fire starter, Compass - Really. Always have a compass - Rain gear, Waterproof box or bag - handy for storing the fire starter tools, as well as other small items, or other things you need to keep dry and a good quality plastic poncho, which also can double as a small tarp
- Work gear - Sturdy work gloves, small hand tools or a multi-tool set, clamp, duct tape, lighting - a headlamp and a dynamo (hand crank) flashlight, so you don't have to worry about batteries dying
- Chargers - the Brown Dog Solar charger is a great resource for the Ever Ready Kit, along with some portable chargers; The last thing you need when your car is dead, is a dead cell phone, too.
- Writing materials - a small notebook and writing tools (pencil, pen and sharpie)
- Some reading material - How to Survive in the Woods or similar, just in case you're stuck longer than expected
- Optional - granola bars or MREs, water, paper towels, small toys or comic books for the kids (something they haven't seen before for maximum value)
Note: Automotive tools are not included in this kit because you should already have your car stocked with jumper cables, auto flares, a tow rope, battery charger, small compressor, fuses, inflated spare tire, and jack.
Step 2: First Aid & Safety
I'm not going to itemize every item that should be in your first aid kit. The American Red Cross has some great guidance on the subject at their website. Be sure to take into consideration any existing special health conditions like diabetes, allergies, high or low blood pressure, etc., and to stock your kit accordingly. We keep the Swiss Army knife in the First Aid kit because it has scissors and other items that can be useful there.
Just be sure to keep any ointments or medicines like aspirin or acetaminophen fresh. It's probably best to swap all meds and ointments out at least once a year, especially if you live in a hot climate, since heat can affect efficacy.
Other items that are useful for your health and safety outside of the First Aid Kit include:
- Hand cleaner - both liquid and wipes. The wipes can dry out after a while, which is one reason it's good to also have the liquid. But the wipes can also be used to clean automotive parts, tools and other things. Similarly, the liquid hand cleaner can come in useful as a spray on cleaner as well.
- Noisemakers/Attention Getters - We keep a whistle in the First Aid kit, but also keep a high pitched device called the Barker Breaker, originally intended as a tool for walkers to discourage the approach of dogs. Turns out it doesn't really bother dogs too much, but it scares the heck out of adults, and can also be handy for signaling distress.
- Fire starter items - In the water tight box, we keep a lighter and fire starter . There's also a solar blanket tucked in there, along with the compass and Barker Breaker. The water tight box is a great little resource, keeping the fire kit stuff dry but also handy if you need stash phone or other items to keep dry.
Step 3: Work Tools
Gloves are so underrated, but when you're stuck by the side of the road, or in the woods, and need to do some grungy work, having a nice set of durable garden or work gloves can be invaluable. So can good lighting. A head lamp with fresh batteries, as well as a dynamo flashlight that's powered by some vigorous hand cranking, so you don't have to worry about dead batteries, are also life savers.
Basic tools are a must: a multi-tool set or small hand tool wallet, clamp(s) and duct tape will go a long way towards repairing most things, at least as an interim repair to get you to the shop.
Step 4: Electronic Preparedness
No 21st century emergency kit is complete with chargers. The Brown Dog Gadgets Solar Wallet is a perfect complement to one or two portable chargers to help keep cell phones and other small devices charged. Be sure to use and top up the portable chargers regularly, to keep them viable. And keep cables in the kit, so you don't wind up with a charger you can't use because you can't connect to it.
Step 5: Reading and Writing
Okay, so maybe How to Stay Alive in the Woods, by Bradford Angier, seems a bit excessive, given the pretty basic nature of the Ever Ready Kit. But it's a classic, highly readable guide to outdoor safety and well being, and conveniently sized for the kit. If you're stuck in some remote area, you might be glad to have it. Or you can throw in a Harold Robbins or Stephen King novel if you prefer.
It's also handy to have something to write on. You can make or leave notes as needed, use the paper for helping start that fire, sketch the moose that wander by, or write your last will and testament in the event you brought Harold Robbins instead of Bradford Angier .
Make sure to have a few writing implement choices, including mechanical pencils, pens and a Sharpie; all of which give you the opportunity to pull off a McGyver, if needed.
Step 6: Pack 'er Up!
Pack up in a way that you can easily find the things you're likely to need most often, like the First Aid Kit. Making things easy to access is key to getting the most use out of the kit.
Step 7: Load 'er Up
Toss in your trunk and you're ready for anything! This is also a good pack for day hikes, and car camping.
Now go! And be safe out there!