car breakdown

In the Southwest, having your car breakdown can be very dangerous. Even in town, a broken-down car can expose you to heat dangers if help does not come promptly. For those who travel the long, open highways of this region, preparation is key. There are a few things you should have with you anytime you travel the desert.

1. Extra water. This includes drinking water as well as water for a possible over-heated vehicle. Bring enough to last at least a day for each person in the car. A challenge faced is how to carry water. After a short time, water in plastic bottles gets an odd flavor. A long-term solution is dedicated emergency water such as Datrex. This is water sealed in specialized pouches and designed for long-term storage. They fit well in the trunk and do not get a plastic taste over time.

2. A small emergency kit with items such as matches, a SureFire or Fenix flashlight, a first-aid kit, road flares and a utility tool like an SOG multi-tool.

3. Closed-toe shoes. Sandals and flip flops may be the fashion of the day, but they will not serve you well on summer pavement that can reach as much as 180 degrees. Burns can occur if your feet are not protected. A company that has managed to mix looks with function is Merrell. They have a solid reputation of making a solid shoe for the desert region that is light, comfortable and fashionable.

4. Non-perishable food. Simple snacks cannot only keep your calories up, but they can also improve your spirits when sitting on the side of the road. The last several years have seen an explosion in companies making long-term storage meals. One of the best on the market is Emergency Essentials. It has a new take on the standard MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat). It uses the same principles as the meals used by our military but focuses more on taste and variety.

5. Sun shade for the front and rear window. The more you can keep direct sunlight out of your vehicle the longer you can delay the inevitable heating that will occur. Choose a sunshade that has “Help” printed on one side to ensure passing motorists know you need assistance.

Vehicles in the Southwest become oven-like as the summer sun cranks up. It is essential that you never leave anything with a heartbeat inside a parked car. The interior air temperature of a car in the sun can reach over 150 degrees. Steering wheels and dashboards can approach a painful 190 degrees, or above, depending on exterior temperature. A word to the wise is to park in the shade and leave a window cracked to allow heat to escape.



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