Always be prepared: Everyday HCP safety tools

George N. Saliba | Fact-checked by Barbara Bekiesz | March 03, 2022

Healthcare practitioners (HCPs) are considered essential workers who, in many situations, must travel to hospitals or clinics regardless of weather conditions and/or states of emergency. Preparation is essential.

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Preparedness checklists provided by the American Automobile Association (AAA) and other sources showcase the must-own items that can help safeguard HCPs in transit, while also serving as useful day-to-day tools. Although you may already carry some personal supplies, such as smartphone power banks and writing utensils, additional everyday carry (EDC) selections can round out your bag.

Note: MDLinx has no affiliation with any products or manufacturers listed.

Emergency vehicular egress

When the tail end of Hurricane Ida rained upon New York and New Jersey in September 2021, at least one-third of the25 people who died in New Jersey did so because they became trapped in a flooded car. 

Unlike older cars with crank windows and manual locks, today’s power windows and locks require electricity to operate, which means they can fail in floodwaters—potentially trapping occupants in vehicular glass-and-metal tombs.

AAA recently evaluated consumer-grade emergency car escape tools, and the results were mixed. While the majority of the seat-belt cutting tools performed admirably, the window-breaking tools were less reliable.

Four of the six tools were successful in breaking tempered glass—the most common type of glass used in vehicle side windows. None of the tools, however, was able to break through laminated glass.

AAA recommends checking the sticker on your car windows to determine whether a glass knockout tool is worth carrying.

Flashlights and headlamps

Useful for searching underneath a car seat in the dark or while walking through a parking lot at night, flashlights can aid in various everyday and emergency scenarios.

Today’s LED flashlights can often be completely submerged in water and can leverage small power sources to project light over great distances.

Although tactical flashlights may be designed to double as self-defense tools, and therefore may involve legal implications when carrying them on one’s person (as detailed by US LawShield), small EDC flashlights are too small for such concerns.

Headlamps are hands-free lighting alternatives to flashlights. These could come in handy when taking notes, reading in low-light settings, or looking under the hood in travel scenarios. 

Many outdoor enthusiasts may already be familiar with headlamps, but they can be just as invaluable on the road.

EDC for snow and ice

If you live in a cold-weather climate, you may already own a vehicle with either four-wheel or all-wheel drive.When you have to travel unexpectedly, though, you may not be fully prepared for becoming stuck in the snow.

AAA recommends carrying sand, salt or cat litter that does not clump for traction assistance. After as much snow as possible has been cleared from around the tires, applying these materials to the road surface can help get the car moving again. Special snow traction mats are also available, but even regular car floor mats can work in a pinch.

More broadly, AAA also recommends carrying an ice scraper, shovel, food, snacks, tarp, raincoat, and gloves.  

Other EDC items

A range of hazards can occur while traveling to hospital workplaces during inclement weather and/or a societal emergency. HCPs would do well to consider assembling additional EDC items to ensure that they are fully prepared. 

These may include, but are clearly not limited to:

  • A complete first aid kit, as detailed by the CDC

  • Laptop and smartphone power banks

  • Warm and/or weatherproof clothing

  • Wool blankets

  • Thermal blankets

  • A change of clothes

  • Food and water

  • Tools and duct tape

  • Personal hygiene supplies

  • Personal medications

  • Paper maps and compass

  • Disposable travel urinals 

Sources:

  1. Vehicle Escape Tool Evaluation. AAA. July 2019. 

  2. Build a Kit. Ready.gov. February 15, 2022.

  3. Know the Law: Non-Lethal Self-Defense | New Jersey US LawShield. September 1, 2019.

  4. Must-Haves for Your First-Aid Kit. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. May 13, 2021.

  5. AAA Offers Tips for Motorists Stuck in Snow. AAA. November 27, 2021.

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