It pays to be prepared, and natural disasters can strike at any time. The kit that matters most is the one that you have on you. Most car owners often leave several things in their cars. These items can be useful, like some spare change, outright or junk. Either way, a car can be a repository for a survival kit in the worst-case scenario, and if you find yourself in a pinch, a few key items will outweigh a bucket of trash any day.
These items are in relation to ashfall, and volcanic eruptions, which can happen with or without warning. Now this list doesn’t comprise of hard-to-find items and specialized kit. Anyone can go to a store and buy whatever is being mentioned here.
Water (container sold separately)
Can be found: almost anywhere
Whether it’s drinking water or just water from the tap, any form of H-2-O will be useful in a pinch during an ashfall. Water has two uses in this scenario – drinking and washing.
Drinking water, if left in the car, must be placed in a reusable container. In whatever scenario, it helps to at least have some form of drinking water with you at all times. If you’re on the road and driving, not having to go down and exposing yourself to the environment will save you discomfort and risk. Drinking water also helps relieve discomfort from exposure, in case you happen to inhale some fine particulate.
Bring a different and a rather large container for your washing water, as you may need it to wash your windshield if the ash starts inhibiting your view from inside the car. It can be a single-use bottle or a refillable. This water should be used for clearing your windshield from debris or for refilling your windshield washer reservoir. By no means should you use this type of water for your radiator, as only distilled water should be used to prevent electrolysis in your car’s cooling system.
First aid kit
Can be found in: drugstores, hardware stores, and outdoor centers
You never know what will happen out there, so a first-aid kit is another recommended item. If you can find the time to go to an outdoor center, you may even get a first aid kit with a few extras which may include an emergency blanket and some other medicines. The important bits are band-aids, antiseptic, gauze, medical tape, cotton balls, and buds. You can also build your own first-aid kit and just house it in a zip-lock plastic bag.
Scissors or knife
Can be found in: bookstores, convenience store, hardware store, outdoor center, etc.
In order to cut items, you need a straight edge. A pair of scissors will help you cut gauze and medical tape in case you need to dress a wound with the first-aid kit you have. Whether it is a pair of scissors, a pocket knife, or even a kitchen knife, a straight edge is a good tool best used with care and skill. That being said, a swiss army knife could be a perfect companion for you in your car thanks to its compact size.
Goggles or eye protection
Can be found in: sports stores, optical shops, convenience stores, etc.
Fine particulate may get into your eyes, making it difficult to see. Swimming goggles are meant to keep an air-tight seal around your eyes to protect it from water. If it’s good enough for the pool, it’s good enough for ash. You don’t need to always go out with a pair of goggles, but if ashfall gets too intense, a pair is good to have. If you need some protection in a pinch, a pair of glasses and shades may help even slightly.
Can be found in: your wallet, bank account, etc.
ATM machines might be inoperable in your area if you are adversely affected by a calamity. To be safe, pack extra money for you to use in an emergency.
Since volcanic ash can be very fine and be suspended in the air, a dust mask is advisable to prevent damage to the respiratory system and irritation. During a volcanic eruption or ashfall, surgical masks aren’t advisable to use as ash particles are much finer and can pass through minuscule openings. An N95 dust mask is designed to shield the wearer from inhaling these small particles so it doesn’t get into the lungs.
Towel, wet wipes, tissues, or paper towels
Convenience Stores, Drug Stores, Supermarkets, etc.
Have any of these items handy and at the ready. In a pinch, you can add water and use it as a make-shift mask, though wet wipes are already wet. Not only will this be good for wiping dust and debris from your skin, but it can also help you cool down if need be. You can also use it to blow your nose if need be.
Portable Vacuum Cleaner
Hardware Store, Appliance Store, etc.
This is a useful item if it can fit inside your car’s trunk. You can use it to clean yourself off after ashfall or if the unit supports it, you can use it to blow away ash particles resting on your car. Do this when it’s dry though. You’d want something that plugs into a car’s 12V socket unless you’re lucky and have a car that has a regular power outlet.