Companies with fleet cars need to ensure that their occupants are safe and prepared in the event of an emergency of any kind on the road. Additionally, there are some federal regulations that require certain emergency equipment to be on all transportation power units such as trucks, truck tractors, and buses not towed in driveway-towaway operations. With that in mind, here is a list of emergency safety equipment that every fleet car should have in it and the reasoning why.
#1. First Aid Kit
We’ve already explained why first aid gear is so important in any workplace, but work vehicles are sometimes not categorized as a “workplace.” We believe this to be incorrect and recommend including this space when calculating how many kits your business needs. Every vehicle should have a kit that includes, at least, one certified rescue blanket for each potential traveler. This blanket is especially important in the winter as it can help keep passengers warm until help arrives.
#2. High Visibility Vests or Jackets
There should also be one high visibility jacket for each occupant in the vehicle cab at all times. The high visibility jacket or vest should be a fluorescent color and have several retroreflective stripes on the front and back. This item in conjunction with the warning signs/traffic cones will help to reduce the chances of passengers getting injured by oncoming traffic. This will also help to make them more visible in case rescue is needed.
Flares have long been considered an international sign of distress and should only be used in times where help is needed. The main benefit of keeping flares in your fleet cars – besides staying up to code –is that they work in any environmental condition including fog or snow. Some other benefits of flares over other portable light sources include: they do not need an external power source (i.e. batteries), they are significantly brighter than most flashlight alternatives, they extinguish on their own so their retrieval is not required if the situation is overly dangerous, and they work to signal an emergency in either daylight or nighttime conditions. However, there is an exception to the code requirement when it comes to commercial vehicles used to transport flammable gasses, liquids or that use compressed gas as a fuel. These vehicles are not allowed to carry flares, oil lanterns or “any signal produced by a flame.”
#4. Red Flags
When something unexpected happens a driver may not be able to move the vehicle into a safe enough location out of the way of traffic. If your fleet is part of the group not allowed to carry flares that means having red flags is even more important. Not only do these items help increase visibility for the car but they also warn other drivers that something could be wrong and they should take extra caution while passing. The only code requirement is that they be no smaller than 12 square inches with a base that can keep them in the upright position.
#5. Fire Extinguisher
One item that is sometimes overlooked as a necessity in car safety is the fire extinguisher. This piece of safety equipment is very important as it could make the biggest difference in limiting the amount of damage caused if there is some kind of flame ignition in any of your fleet’s vehicles. It is also the first item listed in the title 49 regulations we mentioned earlier and the minimum regulations will depend on the type of materials you are transporting. One additional part of including this in any safety program is making sure that your workers have training on how to properly use a fire extinguisher so they are well informed prior to any emergencies on the road.
#6. A Basic Tool Set
Basic tools are often required for vehicle emergencies. The basics to have on hand include: flat-head and Phillips-head (cross point) screwdrivers, adjustable pliers, a vice grip, and a heavy duty pocket knife.
#7. Spill Clean Up
Another code to consider if you are transporting hazardous materials is title 40 section 263; it states that a transporter should also do the best possible job to clean up any spills. While the entire responsibility does not rest on the driver alone, the ability to start to clean up as quickly as possible goes a long way. For this reason, we also recommend having spill management and cleanup equipment accessible in your vehicles.
Aside from the emergency equipment required by regulations such as those in 49 CFR, here are other devices to consider packing for an emergency.
We like to recommend glow sticks because they are waterproof, do not require batteries, generate insignificant amounts of heat, are economical, and are somewhat disposable. Some other reasons include: they can tolerate high pressures (i.e. like those experienced when someone is under water) and they are considered the “only light source that is safe for use immediately following any catastrophic event” because they do not use electricity which removes the possibility of creating any sparks.
Battery Jumper Cables
When selecting battery jumper cables the most important characteristics to look for are a heavy duty insulated wire, and heavy duty insulated clamps. Another thing to remember is that the lower the gauge wires the more charge the cables will transmit.
Flashlight and Extra Batteries
A flashlight is still useful for most emergencies and non-emergency situations after dark. Consider a lightweight, waterproof, and powerful white-light-emitting diode (LED) flashlight with a rechargeable power supply. Two specific styles to consider are: a portable battery powered spotlight or a head lamp to allow hands-free illumination. Since this light source requires batteries, remember to store extras and to test out the ones inside the flashlight routinely.
Portable Battery Charger
If your vehicle power system fails you may need an extra cell phone portable charger or power pack.
Other items to consider include: a gallon jug of drinking water, nonperishable high-energy foods (granola bars, or raisins), nylon cord, duct tape, plastic sheeting and walking shoes. In case of emergencies during the winter season you should also consider: insulated waterproof gloves, a snow shovel, a windshield ice scraper, and a sack of sand or cat litter for tire traction.
Lastly, another important recommendation is to check the condition of the items listed on a regular basis. There is nothing worse than needing a fire extinguisher and realizing too late that it was discharged and then never serviced. Or that there are no bandages left in your first aid kit. If you need any assistance in adding these or any other safety equipment pieces to your company’s safety program, or just need an expert opinion on the best items that will suit your needs and still be up to code, contact your local ORR Safety account manager. Our safety experts are fully trained and can help customize your safety solutions.