Most of us have been in the situation when we can hear our car is not right; we can hear the engine sputtering, there are red lights flashing on the dashboard and you're hoping your car can just make it to the next gas station. But no, the car goes dead and you are left stranded on the side of the road. Worse, you might have an elderly sick person, a baby or a pet with you, and now what do you do?
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Actually, getting stuck on the road is daunting and dangerous. Apparently, around 62% people say they felt highly anxious, 52% say they felt angry, 47% say they felt helpless and overwhelmed and 36% admitting they felt scared. Next time you go on a long trip and disaster occurs and you are in real trouble, are you prepared for emergencies?
One important point to remember is that any car that is regularly well-maintained, has its regular services and is looked after will rarely break down or become disabled and that includes oil changes, hose and belt inspections, fluid checks and tire checks.
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But now we are looking at real disasters, maybe national disasters, and real cases of emergency. In these situations, everyone needs to be prepared to be in charge of their own emergency situation for maybe the first 72 hours or more without having access to food, power water, or medical supplies. If you can manage to 'escape' disaster in your vehicle, or you are trapped in your vehicle, a good tip to remember is always to include an emergency kit or bug out bag for your car. Bug out bags are exactly like emergency kits, usually containing emergency type items to keep you surviving for around the first 72 hours when you evacuate from any disaster. Some bug out bags are designed to last for even longer periods.
Here is a good start to some essential things to consider for your emergency kit:
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- An extra cell-phone charger for your car
- The vehicle's operating manual
- A flashlight with working batteries
- Disposable lighters
- A reliable toolkit
- An updated first aid kit: you need to take care of burns and other wounds, hand sanitizers, wet wipes, etc. foot care plasters, snake bit kit, insect repellants, headache powders, antibiotic creams, etc.
- Thermal blankets
- The spare tire is always inflated - non-use always deflates a tire over time (plus lug wrench and tire jack to change the tire)
- Jumper cables
That's just the basic list.
However, there are times when you have other types of emergencies - when it becomes imperative for you to stop your car on the side of the road immediately. Here are some useful tips to put into effect immediately, so you can start looking out for you and your family's health from the first second:
o Pull the car over and call for help immediately. Even if it's a tire blowout, or you're out of gas or you have an engine failure, with the last bit of momentum left in your car, pull your car well off as far off the main road as you can. This type of area is not meant however for you to casually pull over to chat on your phone or check out a map. As you park your car, remember to pay attention to any road locations, major exits or landmarks that you noticed.
o Alert drivers as they go past. It important that you make other drivers aware of your predicament. Put on the car's hazard lights. Usually, safety kits also have the neon-orange warning triangles to arrange strategically around the vehicle so other motorists can notice there is a problem. If you smell fuel or you know there is a leak, don't light flares around your vehicle if you have any. Popping open your car hood will also show motorists that your car is in trouble.
o Let people know there is a problem. The majority of people have cell phones but there is always that chance of the battery being flat, or you have no reception, otherwise look around for any places in the area that might have people. If you are in a remote area, you can only wait until the traffic patrol people come by.
o Don't leave your vehicle to go and search for help unless you see buildings fairly close. Abandoned vehicles can be towed away. If you are on a highway it is illegal and dangerous to walk on the side of the highway.
Now we are going to provide further tips on how to build an ultimate emergency kit, and if you already have the bug out bag, these will supplement you to face any disaster:
♦ A durable canvas bag for your supplies
♦ Non-spill 2.5 L gas can
♦ Non-explosive flat tire inflation canister
♦ Spare fuses for the car
♦ 2-3 gallons of bottled water and straws if you need to sip from nature itself
♦ Energy bars, peanuts, and raisins for energy, sugar, instant packets of mashed potatoes which are OK for young kids too
♦ A small tool kit consisting of things like:
o vise grips
o adjustable wrench
o pressure gauge
o (And more)
♦ A foldable shovel (small)
♦ Car escape tools such as seatbelt cutter or window breaker
♦ Gloves, boots, socks, and caps for cold weather
♦ Fire extinguisher (small)
♦ Gallon of antifreeze
♦ Oil (about 2 quarts)
♦ Duct tape roll
♦ Paper towels or rags
♦ Washing fluid
♦ Pet supplies if your pets are with you
♦ Paper and pen
♦ Aluminum foil
♦ Multipurpose tool
♦ Umbrellas, ice scrapers
♦ GPS unit hand-held
♦ Towing strap
♦ Emergency battery charger
♦ Extra shoes and gloves
♦ Battery powered radio
What are the advantages of bug-out vehicles?
A properly planned bug out vehicle is ideal for emergency situations, but it is still important that you avoid packing in anything and everything – it is important to find the right balance. You need survival gear that will extend your hours of independence if necessary, raising your survival odds. Try and focus on the multi-use things. Extra to this, it is important not only to think of your vehicle as being the best bug-out vehicle should you be left stranded. You will need to consider that you might have to ditch your vehicle and then you will need a bug-out bag that is mobile.
Your vehicle serves as a shelter
If your car is running in your stranded situation, it will still be able to offer you a certain amount of heat or cool as you need it. This is a powerful ally to have. If it's a storm, you can take shelter in the car rather than the need to make a shelter. You can even sleep in the car if needed without making too many modifications. In desperate times, you could even cook on your vehicles hot engine
There are also bug out vehicle disadvantages
Don't ever consider your bug out vehicle to be so fantastic it is the answer to all your survival needs. You need to assume that you will ditch the vehicle at some point. It could be that you have run out of gas or just something impassable. Your survival skills need to be honed so that you can plan on necessarily even hiking to another destination.
Foot travel: Travelling by foot takes much more energy than driving, but it is versatile. You might have your vehicle all kitted out - however, some disasters might cause many others to be in the same disaster as you and you are faced with miles of traffic ahead of you. Or the roads are blocked with rubble. Then what? Always consider what traveling on foot would mean, as you would then be able to cut through some terrain rather than sitting in traffic for hours.
There are real advantages to traveling by car. However, even the best bug out vehicle also adds additional complications and costs in volume, weight, and money into your bug out plan. Consider this addition as a whole when assessing the best vehicle for your survival situation.
What are the best types of bug-out vehicles to equip or buy?
The 4-WDs are definitely the best
They will increase your options when you need to bug out. The non-4WDs would not last if forced to drive off-road, but the 4WD will enable you to drive over more uneven terrain to reach safety quicker. You might need to think of modifying the inside of the vehicle as well to make it more suitable in cases of disaster. It might mean removing the seating so that you have more storage space or to sleep in. Even though you might want to customize the inside of your vehicle, you don't want to tinker around too much with the engine though, because that can make repairs a little bit more difficult when that comes up. You want reliability in times of need.
A diesel engine
Diesel engines certainly have their advantages, being generally more fuel-efficient. They also allow better fuel flexibility, running on home oil, some jet fuels or kerosene. That increases your chances against scavengers on the road as well, and diesel oil has better storage capacities than gasoline does. Don't invest in a gas-guzzler because, in times of disaster, gas will no doubt not be readily available. Look out for vehicles rated for gas efficiency, at least 23-27 MPG. As mentioned above, reliability of a vehicle is all important and having parts that you can scavenge is essential. Selecting a vehicle that is used widely around and has parts commonly available is tops.
A trailer hitch
This gives you options because it offers more space and once you have used up all the supplies you have put in it, you could ditch it so that your car saves on gas miles.
These are very important, saving your radiator as well as the front part of your car from becoming damaged. You also have better chances of ramming things like trees in the way or doors that might need to be busted open.
Manual transmission helps
It's not a definite, but it does help - it increases reliability, it improves the gas mileage and it's easier to repair and replace than the automatic vehicle. It is also better when you need to push-start a car if its ignition is damaged or you do not have keys.
Are there any other things to do?
Here are some more things to ensure your chances of survival:
1. Apart from stocking out your bug out vehicle, remember it needs to be serviced faithfully. There really is no point in having a bug out vehicle but it is not reliable, you don't trust it, or it won't even start up properly when you are in need.
2. That jump starter mentioned above. Make sure it is reliable and strong - it can save time and your life!
3. It is important to have practice runs every now and then with your bug out vehicle on your planned route to test how well it copes and it holds up to its job. Then you will also be able to identify any difficulties you thought about along the way and be able to make notes of any further modifications you might need to make.
4. If you don't have an automatic vehicle and have a manual transmission, ensure that all the adults in your group know how to maneuver and drive the manual transmission.
And the kids?
When you are a parent and a disaster befalls, the kids are likely the first you worry about and they need to be prepared too. Your first thoughts on your kids will be are they safe, are they healthy and preferably not scared. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that children can complicate plans for preparing for an emergency - everything is much simpler if you are just 2 adults for instance. That's why it is so important for parents and children to evacuate out of disasters as calm and orderly as possible. To achieve this, your child will need 3 things in preparing:
♦ Their supplies
♦ Information about the situation
Find the right bag for your child
A backpack seems to be the container of choice for children, with the premise that everyone needs to be in control of their own bag. The backpack should have enough space for their necessary things; many backpacks are designed for children to clip around their waists making it easy even for a 2-year old to carry. Consider customizing your children's backpacks with the following things:
1. De-stressful and calming items like their comfort toys, crayons, coloring books, etc., games, comfort blankets.
2. Family photo with all the contact information on it, lest you be separated from your child or children.
3. Hygiene items, such as diapers, wipes, toothbrush, medications, etc.
Give the children responsibility and ownership of their own bags, making sure they know what is in the bag, how to operate flashlights and everything that is in their bag. Remember not to over-pack too much, because as with pets, children under 6 can't really be expected to carry too much heaviness.
Where do pets fit into all of this?
Pets fit into your bug out vehicle with you and your family. Leaving behind your pets in a disaster is surely leaving family behind? When disaster befalls you, it is imperative you are prepared to include them too - you can't just forget them when preparing for disaster. You need to prepare bug out bags for them too and this is what is needed for their survival:
♦ Saddlebag for a dog: make bug out bags that attach to your dog's back so that he can carry his supplies too (like a blanket, bowls, medications, etc. - not too heavy)
♦ Tinned foods with can openers
♦ Fold up food bowls for their food and water
♦ Leashes, collars and ID tags
♦ Copies of all their vet documents in case the others get destroyed
♦ Cat and dog sweaters should you land up in freezing weather
♦ Their comfort items, because remember, disaster items can be pretty stressful for animals as well. Remember their blankets, dog and cat treats, and brushes
♦ Cat crates and dog crates
♦ Litterbox supplies for cats if you have, as well as a scoop
♦ Maybe some calming cat sprays for distressed cats that can scratch, bite and urinate when in extreme distress
It's true, there are plenty of options out there for finding the best bug out vehicle you will need when it comes to your survival. Understanding them and figuring out what is best for your needs is an important step towards including the right vehicle or truck for your bug out plan and procedure. It is also important that you don't depend just on any one particular idea when it comes to your bug out plan, depending on that for your survival. When disaster strikes, it is important that you are flexible, ready to continue your bug out plan on foot if that is what will be required. It might well be that disaster strikes after a disaster, and you have minutes, if not seconds to get out of your car in double-quick time. This is when an excelled preparedness bag or kit will be needed - it should have enough supplies to get you through those first 72 hours until help comes your way. Retreating to your bug-out area, the kit needs to ensure that you are able to be self-sufficient as well as protected for that moment in time.
Knowledge is power
It's a good idea to keep a book or a list of all the poisonous and the edible plants in the areas where you might be. Also make sure all your identification documents, passports, social security cards and driver's licenses are kept in waterproof containers - best to make copies. v
You might be tempted with all your bug out needs to want to opt for a heavy-duty military type looking vehicle, but don't let potential thieves see the opportunity. Don't flash all that prepping around. Review your bug out bag every 6 months, altering it and preparing it for the seasons that come and go. Keep bags with zips and compartments so that you know where everything is.
Just think, back in 2016, the Federal Emergency Management Agency noted around 102 emergency situations in the US. These included wildfires, storms, flooding, hurricanes and the like, affecting more than 200 million people every year. Doesn't it make sense that you and your family need to be prepared for these emergency cases? Keep calm and believe - you can do it!