SAFETY VESTS: A ‘MUST HAVE’ FOR VEHICLE EMERGENCY KITS
You’re driving on a two-lane highway late one night when a tire blows, forcing your disabled vehicle to the side of the road.
This can be a tragedy waiting to happen, as passing motorists may not see you putting on the spare before it’s too late.
That’s why every emergency roadside kit should have a reflective safety vest. Made of high-visibility materials and accentuated with patches of reflective tape, safety vests are invaluable for drivers who find themselves stranded after dark.
But safety experts suggest drivers break out the reflective vests even when the sun is out, as the vest’s bright colors can alert passing motorists to your presence.
“High-visibility equipment keeps people safe and visible,” said Rick Raether, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Minnesota-based USA Safety Supply. “The gear should be as effective in the darkening evening as it is in the bright midday sunlight.”
The American National Standards Institute evaluates and categorizes safety vests into three categories. The first class applies to vests best suited for visibility when the passing traffic’s speed is less than 25 mph.
Class two vests are commonly worn by road workers when passing traffic is 25 mph or faster. These vests are helpful in foul weather or when workers can’t give 100 percent of their focus to the traffic.
The highest class, class three, are used when traffic is passing by at 50 mph or more. These vests are most commonly used by roadway construction crews, utility workers and emergency responders.
International Safety Products, a Florida-based distributor of health and safety products, offers the following suggestions of what to consider when buying a reflective vest:
Visibility is key. A reflective vest’s main job is to attract attention. Look for a vest with wide bands of reflective tape or material along the waist, shoulders and chest.
Pockets are handy. A reflective vest becomes infinitely more useful when it has pockets. Use them to store handy items like pens, notepads, small flashlights, tire pressure gauges, gloves and more.
Quality matters. Buy something that is going to last. Look for vests with reinforced stitching along the edges.
Stay cool. It might be an overcast, muggy day when your vehicle breaks down and you need to throw on a reflective vest. In times like these, a lightweight, vented vest made of breathable material will help keep you cool.