Emergency planning doesn't have to be about the bare minimum. You need to make sure that the bare essentials are covered, but unless you're traveling across the country on foot, it's fine to add some extra layers of support. Roadside emergencies can be augmented to add some comfort beyond simple emergency food, water, and calling, but you need to plan the supplies and utilization carefully. Here are a few planning points for roadside emergencies that step a bit beyond the emergency rations and flare gun level.
Communication Power And Reception Planning
For most people in North America, the first and best step is to get in contact with someone. The sooner you contact help, the sooner help will arrive and the fewer emergency supplies you'll need to use. That said, not all emergencies are convenient enough to allow sitting and waiting, and your supplies may not be the only time limit.
If you're stranded, one of the better pieces of advice is to stay put. If you're near a town, you may be better off getting to town and looking for either shelter or a place to have your vehicle fixed. This can be risky if you're guessing or trying your hand at navigation without a map (or even with a map, if you're not a seasoned professional with finding cardinal directions).
Smartphones offer an amazing way to not only call for roadside assistance but to figure out exactly where you are. Most mobile maps or navigation apps will include street names, but they can usually deliver a more exact set of coordinates for professional trackers to use. They can also tell you which way to walk to get to your destination, and major apps will have a distance tracker that switches between car, train, bicycle, and walking travel.
Map Out Your Trip's Outage Areas
Get a light-colored case for your phone that can fit loosely to give it shelter from direct sunlight, and consider a case material with secure grip textures so that you won't drop your device while walking during fatigue or under stress.
Smartphones are most effective in areas with phone signal. Data range and voice range are different, as some areas have high speed, concentrated signals that can allow internet use while much bigger areas allow for communications and GPS-only.
During your trip, be sure to research areas that have no coverage on maps such as Opensignal. Temporary outages happen, and service providers are under no obligation to give outage information out just for trip planning if you're not a customer, but you can find a few places along your trip that will have weak or no signal.
There's no need to avoid these areas, but it's worth knowing where they are and in what direction to travel if you happen to break down outside of coverage. Especially if your travel is on foot, you'll need a few things to stay cool, calm, and able to communicate once you reach signal coverage.
One downside of modern communications is that smartphones can use a lot of power, and if you're traveling during hotter months, using your GPS (global positioning system) along with apps can cause the device to overheat. Be sure to pack a few backup batteries or a charging device that can plug up easily.
Contact a roadside assistance professional like Parkway Wrecker Service to discuss other ways to augment your emergency kit planning.