Years ago, I read a tragic account in the news about a family who had been traveling to visit relatives and friends and somehow got lost in the Pacific Northwest.
They had driven down a back road and their minivan had become stuck in the heart of the mountains far away from civilization. They stayed with their vehicle for about a week, exhausting the few supplies they had with them and the precious little food they had to eat.
Desperate, the man struck off on his own to find help. He walked for 16 miles, and was within a mile of a fully stocked lodge. However he was wearing light clothing very ill-suited for the brutal cold he encountered, and he died of hypothermia. His wife and two daughters were found by search and rescue teams, but it was too late for the man who bravely set out to find help.
The story broke my heart as I read it. The family had no emergency supplies with them in the vehicle and no real wilderness know-how and experience. In fact, with just a little bit of preparation, the man’s death may have been prevented.
Though you or I never plan on getting stranded, things happen. This world is a dangerous place and is only getting more dangerous as the years pass. The truth is that having some basic supplies that are kept in your vehicle can make all the difference between dying and living.
Following is a list of items that can get you out of danger — and help you walk out of trouble with all your fingers and toes. Consider placing these in your car:
1. First-aid kit. This is not your cheap $5 dollar kit from Walmart. You should have a well-stocked first-aid kit that can deal with deep wounds that are bleeding badly, and also take care of punctures, broken bones, severe burns, sprained ankles and just about anything else. Having the kit supplied with medication to deal with aches and pains, diarrhea, colds and other symptoms is important, too. Also, having any prescription medication for prolonged emergencies is important as well.
2. Knife. Always have a solid knife that can cut, stab, pry things apart, and deal with other tasks vital to survival. Don’t buy a cheap survival knife. Spend the extra money and get a blade that won’t snap or bend with minor tasks. Think Ka-Bar, Buck, Case, Kershaw, or another decent brand.
3. Leatherman. I mentioned this separately from a knife on purpose. A quality multi-tool can fix a vehicle, build a shelter, tear that same vehicle apart for supplies, and a bunch of other tasks a simple blade just cannot do. I keep one in my truck at all times.
4. Water purification and storage. Don’t get caught without some water with you and a means to purify more.
A simple pot can do for boiling, and water purification filters can make river and lake water drinkable. I suggest you have a few bottles and at least one method to purify more H20.
5. Survival rations. I keep at least 72 hours of survival rations with me. You can buy rations that can withstand high heat and extreme cold and provide vital calories for you and your loved ones. Be sure you have enough for a full vehicle load of people.
6. Fire starter. Matches, lighters, magnesium fire starter, flares, it all can work. Always have at least two methods of starting a fire, and an ample supply of matches.
7. Footwear and clothing. I keep an extra change of clothing in the truck. I learned that after falling through ice when I was a kid. Having an extra set of clothes can save your life and prevent hypothermia. Keeping a jacket in your trunk during cold weather is a must.
8. Blanket. Having a sleeping bag or blankets in your car is sometimes the only way to rewarm yourself after an accident such as falling through ice or getting soaked with rain water. It also keeps you warm at night, and if you have kids you will need one for them.
What items would you add to the list? Share your suggestions in the section below: