Whenever you travel, you are at risk of a car breakdown that will leave you stranded. During winter, when more foul weather is expected, a car emergency kit could save your life. In an earlier article, Winterize Your Car Emergency Kit, we listed an expanded list of items to be sure to include.
Many of us have some form of GPS locating system either in our vehicles, on our phones or as a hand held device. We put the addresses of our family and close friends into our system and saved them for future reference. The system has failed on occasion leaving us thankful that we had printed maps with us as well. It is a good idea to get proficient with a map and compass. USGS has maps you can order or download for free. Don’t leave home without them.
Food and water caches in your car will need to be rotated every six months if you keep them stored in your vehicle most of the time. Car interior temperatures in the summer can degrade water and it’s containers as well as energy bars. Check the contents of the first aid kit, too.
Keeping your vehicle in good repair is critical. Never leave home, especially on a long trip without first having your vehicle checked over. Fill the windshield washer and never let the gas tank get below half full.
Did you read about the Texas college student who got lost near the Grand Canyon while heading to hike at the Havasu Falls Trail? She had quite an experience when she took a wrong turn, thanks to Google Maps. Fortunately she had supplies in her vehicle that helped her survive. She recalls:
I was on my way from the southern rim of the Grand canyon. I put Havasu Falls Trail Head into Google maps. I had 70 miles to empty not including reserves. I go down the highway leading from the rim and it says turn right before I thought it was the right road. I decided to trust Google and turn onto this ratchet dirt road. Google said I’d only be on it 40 miles before the next highway where I figured I could get gas well before the danger zone. Anywho. 35 miles in, it says to turn on a road that doesn’t exist. I figured it may have washed a bit of the road away since they were primitive dirt roads. So. I turned anyway and figured I’d see the road momentarily. It was getting dark. I came up to a fence with no roads in sight. Panicked since gps stopped working, too. So I Panicked and tried to find the road again. Finally found it but was at 0 to empty. Parked by the first man made structure I found and decided to wait til daylight. Turns out my reserve was exhausted, too.
So I spent five days constructing various signs to help someone find me. Including an SOS sign out of rocks about four feet by ten feet. That wasn’t working so I made a “HELP” sign on the third day that I got to about 20-30 feet tall for the letters. I also tried a signal fire but since everything was so dry, it burned too clean. I also made a road barricade after a truck driver drove past me without noticing. I had a flashing headlamp that I turned on every night. I rationed my food and water and when they found me I still had 16-18 days left. However, I got tired of waiting to be rescued.
I had no signal and no gps. So I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and hiked a total of 21-22 miles. I had to hike 11 miles east from my car just to get signal to call 911. Even then, the call dropped after 49 seconds and I had to pray they got enough info to find me. The helicopter found me about two hills away from my car on my hike back. I don’t know if it was a mile. Maybe less.
If you hike, be sure to include these items.
Billie Nicholson, Editor