Did you know that every year, over 30 million people in the U.S. alone will find themselves stranded in their vehicles. Most of us have experienced this at some time in our lives. It is also one of our greatest fears. Teach these lessons to your young drivers as well. Often they are the most vulnerable.
So, what simple things can you do ahead of time that will dramatically increase your chance of survival should you ever find yourself stranded on a deserted road or other unfamiliar surrounding?
1. Always let someone know where you are going.
Even if it’s just a note on your kitchen counter. State where you are going and when you think you will arrive at your destination. This is one of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts golden rules, and it is a good one. With a car charger you can activate you GPS signal on your phone in offline mode and help will be able to locate you. Practice this before an emergency even happens. Have a back up USB battery charger for your phone as well so you don’t eat up the battery in your car, which you may need for heat or a/c intermittently.
2. Leave your vehicle at your own peril.
Your vehicle is your shelter. If you are prepared with an emergency kit for your vehicle, even in the hottest weather, you can shelter yourself. A mylar blanket taped to the inside of your car windows with duct tape will reflect the sun. It will also keep the inside of the vehicle warm in bitter cold. Remain with your vehicle so Rescuers can find you. Read the post Stay With Your Vehicle If You Are Stranded In a Winter Storm for more info on this subject.
3. If you are able to get out of your car, look around and make sure Rescuers will be able to see you.
If you assess that they are not able to see you, at the least in your emergency bag you should have brightly colored flagging tape. Attach this to your antenna. If you used mylar to insulate your vehicle inside from #2 above, the mylar will reflect sun and will also help Rescuers locate you. You may even have a sun reflector for your vehicle already if you happen to live in a warmer climate. Now is the time to cover your windshield with it. If you can remove any debris or shrubs that are hiding your vehicle, especially if you find yourself in a ditch, use whatever you have to move things away from the vehicle if you are not injured, with an emergency shovel, hacksaw, axe etc.
4. Have a car charger and a USB battery charger as a backup.
For obvious reasons as mentioned in #1 above. Something as simple as this (which thankfully many people already have in their car) can save your life.
5. Make sure there is an emergency kit INSIDE your vehicle, not in the trunk of your vehicle.
In some vehicle emergencies, like being trapped in a snow bank, you may not be able to get to your trunk. Items like jumper cables, tool kits, etc. that are useful if you need to change a tire are OK to stay in your trunk. Also larger items that you may have in your trunk because you’re evacuating an area due to a disaster emergency are also OK to keep in your trunk.
But inside the cab of your vehicle, in a waterproof bag (Trader Joes insulated freezer bag or an inexpensive ammo box from Walmart are great), should be the following basic emergency items:
Your vehicle charger, additional power backup for your phone, a GPS (you can obtain coordinates for Rescuers), two or more mylar blankets (you can duct tape mylar to your windows in a cold or hot climate to keep warmth in or reflect heat out) a tact-bivy emergency sleeping bag, a few rolls of duct tape, a windshield breaker/seat belt cutter (this should be on your keychain, check out this viral video on glass breaking tips when a child was stuck in a hot car, that’s why I love the windshield breaker in the link), a first-aid kit, a flashlight with extra batteries (can also be used to signal for help in the dark), a whistle/compass combo (the international distress signal is three whistle blasts), hand warmers, a ski hat, gloves, hooded sweat shirt (even desert nights can be cold), bright colored flagging tape to put on your antenna, paracord, a knife, a small folding shovel, a butane lighter (check that it works!), four bottles of water (to ration), a portable water-filter straw, protein bars or emergency food bars, a plastic bag, wet-wipes, roll of paper towels, a hammer (personal protection and other uses).
6. Have a Road Atlas In Your Car
We are so addicted to technology and GPS, that map reading has gone by the wayside with cursive writing in schools. Please take the time, ahead of time, to know where you are going if you are driving through unfamiliar territory by looking at a road atlas. Simple things like landmarks that you might see such as large bodies of water, forested areas, etc may help you figure out where you are, which you can then relay to Rescuers as well as knowing your surroundings which will bring you a sense of confidence and relief.
7. If you are driving through an unfamiliar area, stay on main roads.
So many sad vehicle related deaths occur because drivers get off their planned route to take a short cut. Don’t unless you know where you are familiar with the area.
8. Keep Your Exhaust Pipe Cleared From Snow, Mud or Other Debris
Carbon monoxide from you vehicle’s exhaust is odorless and will enter your car if your exhaust pipe is blocked. Please, please, please make sure you check this. If you are stuck in snow, then your exhaust pipe will obviously be blocked. Do not run the car. This is why your emergency vehicle kit that is inside your car can save your life and keep you warm.
9. Never let your gas tank get below half.
This is common sense but so many people do not do this. First of all your vehicle will run better in general. Second if you should ever have to evacuate your home at a moments notice due to a hurricane, wildfire or other disaster, you can get out of town quick.
10. Never forget that you are not alone, even in the most dire of circumstances.
Keep a cool head when you are in an emergency. The worst thing you can do is let panic be in control. Reach deep down. Breathe. You are not alone. If you at the least did number 1 on this list, let someone know where you were heading and when you think you will get there, Rescuers will be looking for you within a 24 hour period. For the spiritual and religious, prayer is a wonderful thing.
Stay safe on your journeys. Use common sense. Stay calm. Again, you are not alone.
The following are a few resources for you to consider:
The Tact Bivvy by Survival Frog can be a life saver and it fits in the palm of your hand (re-useable too).
(I am an affiliate for Survival Frog, I do make a small commission if you purchase through these links. The price is the same if you purchase through the links or not, and thank you!)
Photo in Post Courtesy of Warren Wong on Unsplash.com
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