Car trouble is one of the most common problems to face modern Americans, yet many people do not think of this when it comes to preparing for disaster. The fact is that cars break down on a daily basis, and not always within range of help. Even though we usually travel within our city limits every day, sometimes either business or leisure will take us out further than what we are accustomed.
Imagine you’re on a road trip, far away from civilization, and something starts rattling under your hood. Or maybe you thought you had enough gas to make it to the next station but it turns out you underestimated. What do you do when your car breaks down and there isn’t a soul in sight to help you? What if you are traveling with your children? No doubt your stress level will shoot through the ceiling when this happens.
Advanced Preparation is Vital
This type of crisis is best handled before the situation arises. A car must be maintained on a regular basis in order for it to function properly. In order to reduce the chances of you breaking down on the side of the road with your family, make sure you stay on top of your vehicle’s maintenance schedule. Maintaining the oil changes, monitoring fluids levels, and rotating the tires on a timely basis will allow you peace of mind.
In addition, you’ll want to keep necessary items in your car for all travels. What are these necessary items?
- Portable Auto Booster Set – This set will help you in the event that your battery dies. You will be able to jump off your battery (without another car) and get to your next destination.
- Blankets—This is a must when traveling during the wintertime. Sadly, motorists have been known to freeze to death in their cars while waiting for help because they didn’t have enough covering to keep them warm.
- Food—Make a habit to pack non-perishable foods in your car . Something along the lines of granola bars, peanuts, and crackers will be good. Protein bars and beef jerky can also provide necessary energy if you are stranded more than a few hours.
- Water—This is the top priority. A body can live without food for approximately 3 weeks but can’t live without water  for more than 3 days. Pack bottled water in your trunk and rest assure that even if you do break down, whether in the desert or in the snowy mountains, you will have enough water to drink.
- First Aid Kit—This is important to have in order to render medical aid  to yourself or other travelers in the event that you’re stranded due to an accident.
- Maps and GPSs— A GPS of any kind and road atlases can be a guide in your time of need.
- Cell Phone – This is vitally important for calling for help.
Store all these items in a crate or plastic container of some sort in the back of your car.
Keeping the above list of things in mind, and provided you’ve prepared yourself in case of a vehicle breakdown, what do you do if you become stranded? If you’ve prepared by packing the necessary survival items in to your car, you should be one of the lucky ones that will make it through the night.
The first thing you need to do is make sure you do not panic! That’s easier said than done of course, but having a clear head in the event of being stranded far from civilization is going to be the difference of you making it through the night safely and you suffering greatly. Some people may be prepared with food, water, and covering and then forget they have these items and go off walking alone down a dark road. Panic clouds your thinking and prevents you from remembering basic things. So if you find yourself panicking, take a brief moment to compose yourself and relax.
Next, take your cell phone and call for help. Most likely 911 operators will want to know where you are in order to send help. You may not know exactly where you are, especially if you are in unfamiliar surroundings or if darkness prevents you from recognizing landmarks. This is where your GPS comes in handy. Most cell phones are equipped with GPS tracking, but a word of caution: enabling the GPS will drain your battery faster. This is why having a separate GPS unit is vitally important. Check your GPS unit and give the 911 operator your coordinates. This will help emergency rescuers find you accurately.
Once you have notified emergency responders of your location remove the other items from your trunk and put them in the inside with you. Lock your doors and wait. Be prepared to wait a long time, depending on where you’re located. It can be dangerous going outside of your car at night, especially if you are stranded. Everything from wild animals to criminal elements could be lurking. Keep in mind that you are in survival mode while you are waiting. Your wait may be short (a few hours), and then again it may be long (a couple of days or more).
Be prepared! Use your survival resources sparingly. Don’t eat as much, especially if you know your rescue will take a few days, because eating inducing thirst. Water will be your most valuable resource at this time. It might also be beneficial to include a book, deck of cards, or word puzzles in your survival kit to keep spirits high. (You don’t want to waste the battery on your phone by playing games on it!) Above all, plan before and be prepared for a vehicle breakdown emergency before it happens.