As I contemplated taking my second daughter to college this fall, I began to formulate in my mind what that meant for me, both physically and mentally. The joy of seeing my daughter plan and execute the next phase of her life was overwhelmed with a father’s fear of the unknown. While college for her is only a couple hours away, it is a far enough distance that my preparedness mind kicked in and I began thinking about her overall safety getting to and from. Traveling 2 hours through a mountainous pass in Utah can be incredibly scenic one moment and turn deadly the next, from weather uncertainty, other drivers, mechanical failure, and wildlife on the road. There are a few simple steps we can take to ensure our travels this fall and winter are safe for us and provide peace of mind for our loved ones that are also traveling.
Everyone should have some basic training on handling emergency road conditions that are common in Utah. In addition to monitoring speed based on conditions, special attention should be made to tire condition, snow chains, and overall mechanical status of the vehicle. Known issues should be addressed prior to extensive driving. Often times our knowledge of our vehicle, how to make simple repairs, and more importantly how to drive in adverse conditions are more important than any equipment we possess.
A few things to keep in mind if you are involved in an accident or other incident while traveling is to act as soon as you see or feel like something is wrong, and hit the hazard lights immediately to let others know there might be a problem. If you need to get off the road, try and get off far enough to be safe from other traffic. This can be complicated on mountain roads……as too far might put you in more danger. Call for help when able. It is generally a good rule of thumb to not get out of your car until it is safe (wait until there is a big enough gap in traffic to exit your vehicle). Being on the side of the road is super dangerous due to risk of being struck by other cars. If you do exit the vehicle, get far away from the accident. Finally, be careful with strangers, follow your gut instincts, have a plan.
There are few things that we should stock our cars with before we depart on any trip. I usually bring with me a fairly robust first aid kit that gives me the ability to stop bleeding with tourniquets, pressure dressings, bandages, a Sam splint, and some over the counter medication. In addition to the medical kit, I have a vehicle emergency kit that contains some simple tools (these include some wrenches, screw driver or multi-tool, jacks, lug wrench and spare tire), jumper cables (or a batter charger), weather appropriate clothing, hi visibility clothing, a tire pressure gage, and a little food and water. Regardless the time of year I will always keep a waterproof, warm jacket in the trunk (Utah weather is crazy!). I also like to keep a headlamp and other flashlight, as it seems rough things usually happen in the dark. I keep many of these items in a 72-hour kit that goes with me every time I go somewhere (I will do a future blog post on its contents).
Our children growing up and moving on in life is inevitable, so is the fact that accidents occur. Preparation for both of these potentially life changing events give us peace of mind and help us maneuver life in a prepared manner.