Over the past six months, my family and I have fully embraced bicycling. We’re fortunate to live in an area with 100+ miles of bike paths and have started exploring them, venturing out farther and farther each time.
Before we leave the house, I make sure either my husband or myself has a wallet and a cell phone, and we carry with us water bottles and cables/locks to secure our bikes. We always air up our tires and spray our arms and legs with bug repellent now that mosquitoes and ticks are out and about, but last week a minor incident convinced me of the need to create a custom family emergency kit specifically for our biking trips.
On Friday, we ventured farther than ever before and I ended up with a flat tire. The tubes in both tires were at least 3 years old and my bike had been stored in the Phoenix heat for more than a year, so this wasn’t a complete shock. There was no obvious puncture — just a tube that decided it couldn’t hang in there for even one more mile, and it wasn’t the end of the world, just an inconvenience. However, it made me realize that if bicycling was going to be a part of our lifestyle, we needed to carry with us a few back-up supplies, just in case — supplies specific to biking.
I don’t want a flat tire, or something more serious, to derail our family fun.
The family emergency kit for a favorite activity
So, I’ve thrown together a few items in a lightweight nylon bag and this kit is something we’ll make sure leaves the house with us every time we go somewhere on our bikes. I’ve thought about the types of emergencies specific to bicycling and then threw in a couple of items that are always handy.
- A mini tire pump
- Mini tire inflator that uses small CO2 cartridges to fill tires (2 cartridges to fill one tire)
- A patch kit
- Zip loc bag with a few larger bandaids — A spill from a bike is likely to result in more than just a tiny scratch. My mini first-aid kit would be another good addition.
- Water pouches — I put a couple of these in, in addition to the water bottles on each bike.
- Extra bike tube
- Tire lever — tool for changing tires
- Small multi-tool
It makes sense to have all these supplies in a single, small pack. What will be trickier is training everyone in the family to remember to grab that Bicycle Emergency Kit before they leave the house, whether the trip will be a short, quick one or one that lasts all day, over many miles.
Your favorite activity requires specialized supplies
Nearly every activity that I can think of requires some sort of specialized gear, tool, or equipment. Even knitting and crochet! When I’m in the middle of a knitting project, you can bet I have my handy knitting emergency supplies at hand!
Of course the type of kit I have in mind is one for true emergencies, such as the type of injury most likely when skateboarding (abrasions on hands, elbows, and knees), hiking (extra socks and moleskin), and even playing in the snow (hand and foot warmers, extra gloves and socks).
When my kids were taking ice skating lessons and we were at the rink a couple of times each week, I always kept an extra pair of warm gloves, extra socks, and shoelaces with me. Our swim team years required extra goggles, swim caps, and sunscreen.
What activities do you participate in, either on your own or with others, that might require a customized emergency kit? Here are a few things to keep in mind and you put your kits together:
1. What are the typical temperatures and weather conditions that we encounter in this activity?
2. What types of injuries are most likely?
3. How far might we be from medical assistance?
If you’re in town, an ambulance is only a phone call away — just be sure you have your cell phone with you. Activities that take you miles into the wilderness might require packing a few more first aid/medical supplies.
4. If you should become stranded, what supplies would you need most?
It might be just a cell phone or some cash to buy a meal until help arrives. You don’t have to pack for an overnight trip just for a quick bike ride around the neighborhood, but please be prepared to do just that on a day hike or bicycle trek that takes you many miles from civilization. Even something as simple as a rain poncho is better than nothing.
And, it’s not just stuff that you should pack, but also some training and knowledge. Take a first aid and CPR class. Know how to identify poisonous plants, snakes, and insects if you’ll be tramping about in the wilderness. Ask yourself, “What would I need to know if we were stuck here for 24 hours?” That will help you identify the skills you should know, or learn if a small emergency goes from bad to worse.
Love bicycling? Learn how to change a tire, know some basic bicycle maintenance and have the right tools with you. A lot of bike shops and REI provide this for free.
Is your family into camping? Know how to repair a rip in a tent and how to stabilize your tent in windy or stormy conditions. have the supplies on hand for taking care of those emergencies.
What activities do you enjoy and what supplies should you put together in a pack, just in case?