Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vehicle Safety And Security In The Suburbs

     People spend a lot more time in their vehicles than they realize. The chances of something bad happening while you're in your car are pretty high actually. You need to be prepared while in your car, and your car needs to be prepared as well. There are several things you need to do every time you get into your car, and several things that need to be in every car when you enter it.

     When you approach your vehicle, whether at home or out in public, look at it. Really look at it, observe it, don't look through it. Is anything unusual?  Broken glass, low tire pressure, leaking fluids, etc.  When you start the car LISTEN to it. Does it make a weird noise. Do you smell anything funny? Something burning perhaps. Identify and correct noticeable problems right away before they can leave you stranded somewhere. Stranded equals vulnerable.....reduce your vulnerability.

     Every time you get into your car, you and all occupants should be secured. Seat belts everyone. I know this is obvious. I also know how many times I "forget" to put on my seat belt and am already in traffic before I realize it. I wonder how many people have run off the road while putting on a seat belt? What good is a well prepared and secured home if you get T-Boned by a soccer mom trying to answer a phone while putting on makeup? Newer cars are built to protect the occupants, if you stay relatively stationary inside the cockpit. Seat belts ensure that.

    Remove all distractions from the drivers area. No gadgets, no phones, no FOOD (eating and driving injures as many people as drinking and driving), no water bottles to roll under the brake pedal, etc.  Distractions are the root of all evil, nothing good will ever come from a distracted driver. I know how difficult it is with kids to not be distracted in a car. It only takes a second for everything to change. Your entire life can change in the blink of an eye. Being "right" or it being "the other drivers fault" won't matter to the injured or dead. Be the aware driver who avoids the accident with a distracted driver. Be the good Shepard whose flock gets home safely.

     Every car should have a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit. Don't have one kit you plan on moving between vehicles. I guarantee you it will be in the other car when you need it. I don't care if you buy a first aid kit, make one, or some combination of both. Have one. Have one that has some means to control bleeding. A pressure bandage will help in most of the scene treatable injuries you can receive in a car accident. You're buying yourself and your loved ones time by being able to control heavy bleeding. I'll do a post on my first aid kits and their contents soon. But for now....have one of some type.

     Awareness is your primary safety skill.  As the holidays approach most of us will be driving even more. Travelling to visit family and friends, maybe in areas we don't travel to frequently. Lots of people around us will be doing the same thing. Lots of them won't know where they're going. Being able to anticipate and avoid problems will keep you and yours safe.

     Most vehicle accidents happen when a slower moving car tries to merge with faster moving traffic. They pull out into oncoming traffic, or merge from an on ramp driving 35 when traffic is moving at 75, etc. A driver swerves to avoid them, or brakes to avoid them, and a collision happens. Avoid this by driving 5-10 seconds ahead of where you actually are. See this and begin to avoid it before it happens. Again, don't be "right" be safe.

     Allow yourself 5-6 car lengths following distance in city traffic. I know how aggravating this is, believe me I do. As soon as you get 6 lengths behind the car in front of you, some ass hat changes lanes into the space you just created. You repeat, ass hats repeat. You feel as if you're not getting anywhere, then you get caught at a light, get frustrated, and go back to 2 lengths.  Please stay at 5-6 lengths. When stopped allow for 2-3 lengths, this gives you reaction and maneuver room should you need it. You don't want to be boxed in with trouble erupting around you.

     Tips and tricks:
  •  Avoid road rage incidents at all costs. Don't get into a bird-flipping contest with the idiot who just merged into your safety space in traffic. Again, don't be "right"....be safe.
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked at all times.
  • If your windows are rolled down, constantly look around (keep your head on a swivel) when stopped in traffic.
  • Do not allow yourself to get distracted at stoplights. Pay attention to your surroundings. No one ever got car jacked while driving at 35 miles an hour. It always happens when the car is stopped.
  • Keep your car in decent mechanical shape. Don't get stranded by a blown hose.
  • Keep your gas tank at LEAST 1/2 full. This allows you to stop for gas when it's convenient, not when you're running on empty.
  • Trust your instincts. If your "gut" tells you to get out of where you are....get out fast.
  • Avoid problem areas if at all possible. If you can't avoid them, avoid stopping in them.
  • Press your key less entry button once to unlock your door, but not all the doors. (Reader suggested: thanks medictg)
  • Keep the dome light inside of the vehicle's cabin set to "off." You should know your vehicle and its contents well enough to operate everything in the dark. Having the light go on each time you open up the door compromises your night vision, and gives the bad guys a free peek inside of your vehicle. (Reader suggested: thanks Antithesis)
Tips and suggestions can be e-mailed to me at: survivalinthesuburbs@gmail.com

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I'm not an expert, and I don't play one on the Internet. Always, survive to fight another day.

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