How To… prepare a car kit.

An overlooked part of housekeeping is car keeping. Most housekeepers, be they bachelors and bachelorettes, housewives or househusbands, will run a car. Even if they don’t, there’s a high probability that someone else in the household owns and runs a car. However we tend to view the car maintenance and care as a separate thing to the household, the exclusive property and duty of the owner, rather than a shared commodity and space that needs to be kept in order.

Just as a housekeeper may clean their partner’s office or help them tidy up the gym after a workout, a housekeeper can help with the maintenance of the car by providing a kit that the driver can keep in the boot in case they need anything in particular.

If you are not the main driver, make sure to speak with the car owner about what they use in their car, what they would like to have and what they find themselves running out of. Feel free to make suggestions once they are done to ensure that everything has been accounted for, but don’t push anything on them they may not find useful. That said, here are my suggestions.

This is part IV of my ongoing “housekeeper’s kits” series. Part I, Part II and Part III at these links.

1: The bag.

I would say something heavy duty. Compartments aren’t essential as long as everything that stains or smells is well-sealed, which it should be anyway. A plastic tote bag, that has strong handles, can be easily moved from car to car and that you only need to glance into to see what you have, is ideal.

2: The cleaning products.

Cars need to be cleaned. All sorts of spills happen in them, dirt gets trodden in and the usual dust accumulates. So having some cleaning products in the car is useful.

My suggestions:

-sick bags

carpet cleaner

leather cleaner

-window cleaner and sponge

air freshener

-de-icer (lemon and vinegar water is fine)

3: The paintwork.

Paintwork can be chipped or damaged. Previously damaged paintwork or paint on older cars needs attention for possible rust damage and fading.

My suggestions:

car-suitable rust remover

file for paint

straight-to-rust hammerite

straight-to-rust spray paint in the right colour

4: The patching.

All cars start accumulating damage eventually. Everything from chipped mirrors to torn seats. To keep on top of it, keep a patching kit in your car kit.

-needle and tapestry thread

-vaseline

duct tape

WD-40

-super glue

5: The repair.

Sometimes something serious will happen to the car. You will at least need the tools to make it safe again, if not to fix it up yourself where possible.

My suggestions:

-spare wheel, wheel bolt spanner and car jack

allen keys

-gloves for handling electrics

-spare fuses and bulbs

fob batteries and screwdrivers

6: The topups.

These are things your car consumes that you normally top up at the garage or when home. But sometimes they run out in unexpected locations or at inconvenient times. Having an emergency refill can save you.

My suggestions:

-parking money

-fuel jerrycan

-windscreen fluid

-bottle of water

-oil

Keep an eye on your oil and fuel. They can expire after a while in a jerry can or bottle, so make sure they look healthy and from time to time refuel out of your jerry can and refill it, to keep the jerry can fuel fresh.

7: Breakdown safety.

These are things to keep you safe in case of a breakdown or accident on the road.

-two cones

-high-vis jacket

-pocket torch

8: Relevant documents.

You may not always have all your documents with you. But try and keep a photocopy of your driver’s license and tax papers, or at least the relevant reference numbers, somewhere on the car at all times, just in case you need them.

And those are my suggestions for a car kit that will never leave you or your loved ones stranded!

What additions would you suggest? Anything that you really wish you’d had at a certain point? Anything you say in the comments will be added to the kit!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

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How To… prepare an emergency kit.

We have already discussed how to prepare for specific emergencies, such as a medical emergency or a bout of depression. But what about those nondescript “it’s an emergencies” we all get? Neighbour having a baby, sister in hospital, house ruined by fire or flood, anything that suddenly calls you out.

Thankfully, there are some ways we can be prepared for this sort of incident also.

This is part III of my ongoing “housekeeper’s kits” series. Part I and Part II at these links.

1: The bag.

You will need a bag you can easily grab and easily fill. Especially so if the contents can’t all be kept together and you need to pack in minutes. Choose a backpack or rucksack twice as big as it needs to be to carry everything you will take. This way you can also add more things without fretting.

2: The overnight items.

This is best composed of spares, so you can keep them all in the bag and don’t have to run about your house collecting commonly used items.

spare toothbrush, travel toothpaste and mouthwash

spare hairbrush and hairbands

spare towel

-spare t shirt, two pairs of spare underwear and socks

-a purse with change

-spare phone charger

-spare keys

3: The communication.

You need to guarantee you can contact anyone, even if your phone dies or is lost. If you’re called away suddenly you may not have the time to tell everyone where you’re going and why, so this is vital.

-spare phone

-spare charger and battery

-phonebook with essential contacts

It’s also wise to use a social network update to alert everyone. It’s far quicker to post “at Derby hospital if anyone needs me” than to send texts and call everyone. Plus, news spreads faster on social media.

4: The pets and children.

Have a petsitter or a babysitter you know you can contact at short notice, preferably one for days and one for nights. You never know what problem may arise and it will be very helpful to have a friend, childminder or relative who can collect or move in with your kids and pets at short notice.

Keep these numbers at the very front of your phonebook.

5: The entertainment.

We tend not to think of this in emergency situations, but after the initial rush, there is a lot of waiting. When you’re anxious or suddenly stressed, it may be hard to relax or distract yourself from the issue. But as time passes you will be waiting for quite a while and it’s best to do something to use up all that stress-based energy whilst you’re there.

-a book that’s easy and pleasant to read

-a portable games console

an mp3 player

-knitting or crochet

travel boardgame

6: The energy.

These sort of emergencies aren’t really convenient. They don’t strike when you’ve just had lunch, are rested and happy and have had time to digest. You may have been woken up at 2am, interrupted before breakfast or called out when you’ve just got home from work. You will need to keep something on you to get your energy up and keep you going. Everyone’s needs are different, but here are some suggestions for snacks you can keep almost indefinitely in a bag.

-sealed boiled candies

-energy bars

-canned caffeinated drinks

-bagged dried fruit and nuts

-caffeine pills

And those are the things you may want to keep as an emergency bag, in case anything serious happens.

What would you put in your emergency bag? Got any tips or hints for anyone making their own emergency bag?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… prepare a first aid kit.

This is going to be the first in six installments where I will explore six kits we could use in various situations as housekeepers. It falls on our heads to be ready for most eventualities, especially when they happen on our threshold and a small, easy to locate, well-organized, well-stocked box will really come in handy when you need to think fast and save the day!

The first kit is a first aid kit. This is an essential in any household, but few people go beyond the basic sets you can buy in the pharmacy, a box of plasters and a few painkillers. But even if you find it hard to think ahead when it comes to illness and injury, there are some simple measures you can take to make an awesome first aid kit.

1: The container.

The first step is to prepare a suitably sized container for your kit. None of that tiny, easy, cutesy nonsense. That was fine for your first scout camp, but when you have a real problem on your hands, you need to be well stocked. We actually have an entire shelf in a cupboard dedicated to our first aid gear. That’s how big we’re talking. You will want to stockpile the basics and be storing heavy-duty things, like heatable and coolable packs, compresses and emergency surgery kits. You need the space.

If you can’t take over a cupboard, consider a child’s suitcase, a storage box or even assorted tupperware boxes, all properly marked and organized, of course.

2: The grab-bag.

But what about those times when you need something soon or often? For that we will create a mini-kit, a grab-bag of assorted items you may need in a pinch. This should be the size of your standard household first aid tin or small lunch bag.

It will contain antiseptic wipes and/or spray, a small selection of plasters and sticky bandages, a nail kit and anything else you may need suddenly or urgently, such as an adrenaline shot if your daughter is seriously allergic to beestings.

3: Basics.

The basics are what we first think of when we talk about first aid. You will want two stashes of these: a stockpile in the main cupboard/container and a small selection in your grab bag.

Antiseptics. For any small cuts or animal bites.

A nail repair kit. Tweezers, nail file, small scissors and clippers. All very useful in the event of torn or damaged skin or nails.

-Simple painkiller. Paracetamol is wiser, as too much aspirin is a blood-thinner. But do make sure to have a selection.

Plasters. Everything from those tiny dots to a huge roll of plaster tissue.

-Sticky bandages. For more serious cuts than plasters can help with.

And those are your bare essentials.

4: Cold and Flu.

Colds and flus are inevitable. Sure, if you look after yourself you may get to a point where you get one a year and all it feels like is a stuffy nose, or even where you don’t get ill. But not everyone will or can get their immune system that strong and these people wander in and out of your life and home fairly regularly. Therefore, we need to be stocked in case of cold and flu.

-Congestion relief. Inhalers are very good, but nasal sprays can also help.

-Throat relief. Soothers and cough syrup.

Vapor rub. Good for handkerchief rubbing and for little ones with blocked sinuses.

Spare packs of tissues. Nobody ever has enough.

Vitamin chewies. To help prevent them from catching anything else whilst they recover.

5: Sports.

Again, you may be one of the least physically active people in the world and still get tennis elbow. And others around you will almost certainly get sprains, tears and twists even when you don’t. So you will need to be prepared for them.

Freezable pack. This could be as simple as that sponge-in-a-Ziploc trick or even a camping freeze bag.

Warmable pack. Rice bags are really easy to make and helpful.

Cool and heat sprays. For instant relief.

-Compress bandages. Usually just two long ones are enough, but you may want a specialized knee, ankle and wrist one too.

Ibuprofen gel. For swelling and pain.

Rehydration salts. Great for recovery, also usable in cases of extreme enteritis.

6: Bandaging.

Anyone can get cut or injured. Anyone can fall over, have a piece of furniture land on their foot or be bitten by a large animal. So bandaging gear is an essential.

Simple sterile gauze. These bandages come in little sterile packets and are very useful.

Bandaging. These come in rolls and are used for compressing wounds or broken parts into place.

Butterfly stitches. Little sticky stitches, good for holding things together as a temporary fix.

-Sewing kit. Sterile needle, proper thread, sterile tweezers and scissors.

Dissection kit. Sterile scalpel, tweezers, scissors, etc. Good for cleaning up messy wounds before bandaging or stitching and removing glass or deep splinters.

7: Epipens.

If you or a member of your household has a serious allergy, you will probably have an epipen anyway. These are measured adrenaline shots to keep people alive through an allergic reaction.

But as long as you know someone who has a serious allergy, it may be best to keep an appropriate epipen at hand at all times, just in case. Be warned, they expire. So keep an eye on them.

8: Gadgets.

Anything technological that may need batteries recharged, to be kept dry and safe or replaced after a few years.

-Assorted thermometers. Oral, ear, rectal, baby.

-Massager. A godsend when you need one. Just get something simple, like those insect-like ones.

Blood pressure monitor.

Blood glucose checker and strips.

9: Specials.

These are assorted items you will use rarely and that aren’t part of a treatment program, but that it’s best to keep in the back of your kit, just in case.

-Heavy duty painkillers. Codeine, for example.

-Headlice killers.

-Worming pills.

-Something to induce vomiting. When you need someone to vomit, this is vital.

-Fire blanket and burn cream.

10: Personals.

Anything you need that other people may not. Have a look at whatever illnesses or disorders run in the family. Some homes may need a defibrillator, some may need omega oils, some may need a couple of epipens handy. Make sure you have everything you need and put it into the right area.

11: Information.

All the literature you might need. I’d recommend a clipboard with a sheet of expiry dates for easy access, a first aid book for all emergencies and any books on the local wildlife and what may be poisonous where you live.

Once you have collected all of this, be sure to keep it organized. Tupperware boxes or makeup bags make great mini-kits, so that all your bandaging, painkillers or flu treatments are together. When you use it, make sure to put everything back where it came from and make note when something needs replacing or restocking.

And that is your first kit! Be sure to check in next week to find out how to design a kit for when you are depressed or otherwise “down”.

Until then, feel free to share your suggestions for the kit in the comments!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!