How to deal with auto emergencies


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They can happen at any time of year, but auto emergencies are even more on people’s minds during the snowy, icy, cold months of the year. Low visibility, freezing temperatures and slippery roadways – and drivers trying to adjust to those conditions – can spell disaster if you’re not driving cautiously or prepared to cope with an emergency, whether it’s an accident or a car breakdown.

To give yourself a better chance of coming out of a car emergency safely, take some steps to prepare your car – and yourself – for any potentially dangerous situations. Keep these emergency essentials in mind:

* If your car breaks down or has mechanical trouble, don’t panic. Approaching the situation with a level head will keep you from making mistakes that could hurt you or be costly. If your car gives out in the middle of nowhere, try calling an emergency roadside service, before asking for help from strangers on the road. If you’re unable to make a call from your cell phone, you may need to walk to the last town or home that you passed. If your car breaks down in the middle of the night, the best plan of action is probably to stay with the vehicle if no help is immediately available. This will help to prevent you from getting lost, injured or susceptible to a change in weather during the dark.

* Dealing with a dead battery is a fairly common occurrence, so it’s important to know how to address it. To get your battery going again, you’ll need to connect it to another (functioning) battery of the same voltage with jumper cables. Get the cars close enough together so that the cables aren’t pulling, and connect the positive clamp to the positive terminal on the dead battery; then attach the other positive clamp to the positive terminal of the good battery. Next, attach the negative clamp to the negative terminal of the good battery. Lastly, attach the other negative clamp to a metal surface in the car with the dead battery to ground it – away from the battery or parts containing gas. Have the person in the vehicle with the good battery start their car, idling for a moment, and then try to start your car. If the engine turns over, let it idle for a minute or two, and then disconnect the cables in the reverse order in which you attached them.

* Having a kit of survival items in your car is also very important. It can get you through – or out of – any number of problems, so keep it well stocked and in your vehicle. Items to include in your kit are: a cellphone, a flashlight (be sure to check the batteries every so often), an owner’s manual for your car, a tire pressure gauge, accident and insurance information, a can of tire sealant, car tools, flares, rags, a jack and tire iron, gloves and hats, blankets and non-perishable foods.

You should always anticipate that the unexpected may occur when you’re on the road, particularly if you’re traveling long distances. However, you never know what might happen on the way to work or simply out running errands, so it’s essential to know how to tackle all kinds of auto emergencies.