Flat tires happen, whether we like it or not, and regardless of how inconvenient it may be for us to deal with at any given time. If you are running late to work and have a flat, the tone for your day might be set in a category that can be best described as unpleasant in nature. If you are running for your life from a natural disaster or TEOTWAWKI, a flat tire can severely change, limit, or even end your life.
The convenience of places such as Goodyear and Firestone will be unavailable under certain circumstances and may remain unavailable for quite a while. Events such as hurricanes and tornadoes create debris, and in some cases the debris fields can be quite large, stretching many miles. Unusual items may wind up in those debris fields, items that can wreak havoc on your tires in the blink of an eye, well before you even notice they are there. It may not even occur to you that those items actually present danger; if you had told me before hurricane season that ceramic tile would puncture my tire and give me a flat, I never would have believed you, but you better believe I got to find out for myself.
While we ideally want to avoid the dangers possessed by the unknown contents of debris fields, doing so is not always possible. Sometimes you can't go over or around and you have to go through it. If that situation becomes your reality, you need to remember that there very well may not be anyone there to help you if you get a flat. The luxury of paying a tire technician to pull your tire and patch it safely and effectively from the inside can easily become not only a thing of the past, but also a thing of only a very distant future as the return of civilization progresses slowly.
An item essentially in any BOV is a tire plugging kit. If you do not already have one, adding one immediately is essential. Patching tires is always best, but in the absence of an ability to patch, a plug kit can save the day...well, it can save most days. If your tire is punctured in the sidewall, there is nothing a plug can do for you, and trying to plug a sidewall is dangerous and can result in a blowout. However, if you have a nail in your tread, or ceramic tile as the case may be, a plug can get you back on the road again.
To use a plug kit, you first need to find the cause of your flat, such as a sharp object. If there is no visible object, try rubbing soapy water on your tire and looking a place in which it continuously bubbles; these bubbles are a telltale sign of leaking air. Once you've located the leak site, mark it with a piece of tape or some chalk. Only then should you pull out the object causing the leak.
Once you have freed the object from the hole in your tire, use the reaming tool in your plug kit to clean out the hole and give it a coarse edge to which the plug will adhere. Take a plug and thread it through the plugging tool and insert it into the hole in your tire. If necessary, lubricants such as rubber cement can be used at this stage. Push until only about a half an inch of your plug is still exposed, then pull the tool back out. Cut off any excess, fill tire to the correct pressure, and you are ready to go. Of course this also means having a portable air pump, compressor or can handy to supply that air, so add that to your list!
Plugs do take effort and are not the most ideal fix, but they are helpful in most situations and can get you moving again. Cans of foam used for fixing flats only go so far and it is possible to get much more distance out of a plug. To stay moving and out of harm's way, keep a tire plugging kit on hand at all times.