Recently we have seen weather events that have caused much disruption, not just in cities and communities but on the roadways across the country. The three-day blizzard that struck western New York right before Christmas is just one example.
Tragically this storm was responsible for the deaths of at least two dozen people who remained trapped inside their vehicle as rescuers could not reach them.
While I have not experienced a blizzard of this magnitude, I have certainly been caught in hazardous driving/road conditions because of extreme weather events.
In a past article titled, Be Prepared, Stay Prepared, I discussed being prepared at home and supplies a person may want to keep on hand at all time. This same doctrine certainly applies, even to a greater extent, when on the road and away from your home base.
In deep snow, water, mud, or sand conventional motor vehicles, even those with four-wheel-drive, can quickly become immobile! In the case of water or snow, it does not take many inches of accumulation to shut-down all motor traffic, including emergency services as we recently witnessed in New York.
Exiting your vehicle and attempting to walk to safety may or may not be viable and in fact is probably not a good idea in remote areas.
Help may not be able reach you for days. So just what items should you consider keeping on hand and in your vehicle at all times?
The following is a basic list vehicle survival gear:
Obviously, we can’t overstate the importance of water for multiple needs. Along with that is a container of some kind that can be used to boil/cook with and will make being stranded in your vehicle more comfortable.
The ability to make fire one way or another is critical. Keeping several spare lighters, a ferro rod in addition to matches will help ensure the ability to make a fire (an emergency road flare will start a fire in a jiffy).
A compact cook stove that runs on the small propane canisters is an easy item to store in a vehicle and offers a way to have fire, cook and heat. Obvious precautions must be taken, of course.
Aside from your car, you may have need of a hasty shelter. Tarps, a small back packing tent, and a compact sleeping bag are easily stored in a vehicle and weigh next to nothing.
Along with shelter carry extra clothing in a small duffle. Think layers, not just one big winter jacket. Also included here is head covering; wide brim hat for summer, beanie for winter, along with spare socks, and good foot wear in case you must walk.
Some protection from rain would be a good idea as well an extra blanket.
This is relatively obvious, but having some kind of food ration that is going to provide you with a high caloric intake during an extended period is a good idea. MREs, freeze dried food and other food sources that store well are invaluable.
The options today for survival foods are endless.
First Aid & Medicine
This is often overlooked or takes a low priority if you don’t have the experience or knowledge. But accidents happen, especially if you’re running against the clock of a natural disaster and you’re on the road.
Keeping a quality first aid kit to include tourniquets and pressure dressings is a must. Additionally, it’s worth keeping excess medications for those who take them regularly. Personal toiletry items might also fall into this category.
I would highly recommend getting training for first aid and trauma medicine whether or not you travel or spend time in remote locations.
Firearm and Ammo
I never drive anywhere without a gun and the necessary ammo. Enough said.
It’s simple, don’t depend on electronic forms of payment to work in a major weather event or disaster. Keep cash on hand for such times.
Having a signaling device such as a whistle, signal mirror, flashlight or other signaling device will give you some extra visibility when you are looking for help, or if help is looking for you.
You may want to consider investing in a set of hand talkies for an added communication option. These usually have a scan mode so that you could listen for others with similar capabilities, range will be limited and you will need extra batteries.
This would include the basic tools for minor car repairs, but also a shovel, camp axe or saw, and a good knife. A tow strap and jumper cables should be inside your vehicle at all times.
Make sure your car’s spare tire is in good shape and you have the necessary tools to change a tire if needed.
Keep your gas tank as full as possible at all times. Carry extra gasoline in an approved container if you can do so safely.
Portable, battery-powered, or hand crank AM/FM radio
Extremely handy in this kind of emergency, as they allow one to keep current, via local radio, with developing conditions. If your car battery goes down this radio will come in handy.
Along with that a way to recharge your cell phone, i.e., a portable charging source that runs on batteries, solar or other methods may keep your phone viable for an extended time.
Keeping the essentials with you is always going to be a priority, but being able to distract yourself for a few moments can give you a huge morale boost.
Keeping something simple like a book or a deck of cards could do wonders for your mental outlook if you are stuck in or around your vehicle for an extended period.
If it becomes critical to leave your car having a good small to medium sized back pack to carry essentials with you is a good idea. In fact, having many of the above-mentioned items stored in your car already in a pack is one way to address this consideration.
Do not live a fearful life. Being prepared can give you confidence and self-reliance. The unrealistic expectation that emergency services will or even can instantly swoop-in and save the day is defeatist thinking.
Someone once said: “Only the naïve subcontract responsibility for their own personal protection and welfare.”
Bottom line, think ahead, look ahead.