K12 Articles

By Rob Krolikiewicz "K12"
Vehicle Preparedness

An emergency can happen at any time, therefore, it is just as important to have your vehicle prepared for an emergency situation as you would your house. You may be driving in your vehicle when an emergency arises and you might not be able to get back home where you know you are better prepared.

In December of 2013 a family of six drove their SUV to the snow covered mountains of Nevada for a day of fun in the snow. The driver flipped the vehicle and they were stranded, unprepared, and no one knew of their location. They unexpectedly found themselves in a situation that could have been deadly. The family was comprised of one man, one woman and four children ranging from the ages of 3 to 10. They spent the next 48 hours in their vehicle until they were discovered by a search and rescue team. They survived because they maintained a positive attitude, stayed with the vehicle, and used it as a survival tool. The man started a fire right away and heated rocks that were placed inside the vehicle on the rim of the spare tire to keep his family warm. (photo above from CNN)

Building a vehicle prep bag, aka, a “get home bag”, is an essential piece of survival equipment.

- K12

A get home bag, is the size of a small to medium size backpack that contains your survival essentials based off of the priorities of survival. Having all your essentials in a backpack makes it convenient to grab it and go if you need to leave your vehicle behind. Staying with your vehicle and using it to aid in your rescue is your first course of action, but if safety does not allow that to happen, grab your bag and move to safe location and set up a camp.

At a minimum, your bag should contain the following essentials:

  • First Aid: A first aid kit, hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes
  • Shelter: tarp, emergency blankets or emergency bivvy sack for everyone traveling with you
  • Signal: Signal mirror, whistle, glow stick. Always have a signal device for both audio and visual recognition.
  • Water: Emergency water, water bottles (at least one stainless steel bottle to use for boiling), water purification – Commercial filter, iodine tables, sodium dioxide tablets
  • Fire: Multiple ways of starting a fire – Lighter, waterproof matches, ferrocerium spark rod and tinder tabs
  • Food: Freeze dried food, Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), high caloric protein bars, and any food that you normally eat
  • Security: Firearm, pepper spray
  • Tools: Cell phone, knife, multi-tool, 550 paracord, flashlight/headlamp, spare batteries, rubber gloves, work gloves, cell phone charger
  • Navigation: GPS, Compass, maps.
  • If your vehicle provides you more space, you should include more essentials that are separate from the gear in your bag. At a minimum your vehicle should be equipped with:

  • First Aid: Its own First Aid Kit, hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes
  • Shelter: Your vehicle can be used as a shelter. You should also include a large tarp and wool blankets, rain gear, gloves and hats
  • Signal: Your car has many signal options. You can use the headlight and horn until the battery runs out. You can also use any mirror on the vehicle. Remove the rearview mirror and reflect the sunlight to your rescue aircraft. The spare tire when lit on fire (outside of the car) will produce black smoke, which could be seen during the day.
  • Water: Equip your vehicle with extra water jugs and change them out as needed.
  • Fire: Keep lighters, matches, and tinder tabs handy in a little fire starter kit, battery
  • Food: Freeze dried food, Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), high caloric protein bars, and any food that you normally eat (wiring from the vehicle can be used to make traps)
  • Security: Your vehicle provides you with a first level of security. Added security will always enhance your safety.
  • Tools: Basic vehicle tools (screwdrivers, ratchet set, wire cutters), flat tire in a can, multi-tool, flashlight/headlamp, batteries, knife, work gloves, cell phone charger
  • Navigation: GPS, road map atlas. If your vehicle is equipped with its own GPS system there may be an option to pull up your coordinates. Refer to your user manual and become familiar with that option. If you are able to call for help, you can give the exact coordinates of your location.
  • Try to conserve your gas for running the heater in the cold temperatures and the AC in the dessert. Run the vehicle for about 20 minutes for temperature control and hold off for as long as you can in between. While the vehicle is running, use that time to go full steam on your horn and lights for signaling. The running engine will maintain your battery power, which will give you more opportunities for signaling for help.

    Car engine cooking: If you have food that needs to be cooked and the engine is running, try placing the food on the exhaust manifold. It makes for a great field expedient oven and a warm dinner.