I've been following this mentality for a long time, but we're got to be prepared for anything. No matter where you are or what you're doing, a disaster can strike at any time.
Perhaps you're at work, on the freeway, or taking the kids to school. Maybe you're sitting at home as things go south or you hear something bad is headed your way.
If your plan is to bug out, you need a way to do that. Keeping your vehicle stocked and ready to go (at a moment's notice) is one of the final steps to being prepared. In a crisis, all you need to do load your family and grab the keys.
You're not wasting precious time trying to grab supplies. Emergency packing will inevitably mean you grab too much or the wrong things and forget the most basic necessities. Plus, there'll be that much more traffic when you do get out on the road.
Here's what you need to be doing to ensure your vehicle is ready.
Keep it maintained
You need a rig that's in good running condition. An emergency is not the time to deal with a leaky radiator hose or bad tires. Vehicle maintenance needs to be a priority in your survival planning. If you're not mechanically inclined, take it to a mechanic or a friend who is.
It's not a matter of having the newest car on the block. What you really need is one that's reliable, so it can take you to safety once a disaster hits.
Don't ignore the weird noises coming from your bonnet, or the flashing light on your dashboard. Take your car in for an oil change every now and then, and try to always have at least a half a tank of gas. In an emergency you're not going to be able to stop and battle the long lines at the pump.
Get a basic toolkit together
Even if you're not a mechanic, you need to know the basics.
Call that friend again, and get them to show you how to change a tire, how to top up your oil and radiator, and learn some of the most common problems so you know how to quickly fix your car and get back on the road.
Along with this, you're going to need some tools. I've got a box that practically lives in the trunk of my car, (along with my go-bag), so I never need to rely on roadside assistance. Oh, and make sure you've got an inflated spare tire, jack and a tire iron, just in case you need to change a tire.
Here's what's in my toolkit:
- Adjustable wrench
- A small set of wrenches
- An adjustable length screwdriver
- Needle nose pliers
- A roll of duct tape
- A roll of electrical tape
- A set of jumper cables
- A couple of hose clamps in different sizes
- A portable compressor (for re-inflating tires)
- A hammer
- A fire extinguisher
- A tow rope
- Bungee cords (to tie things down on my roof-racks)
- The owners repaid manual for my car's make/model
Don't forget your fluids
After driving a beat up old Toyota during my college days, I learnt quickly that many breakdowns can be fixed with a little fluid. I have a milk-crate in my trunk to keep these upright and organized.
- Engine oil (the right type for your car of course)
- Brake fluid
- Automatic transmission fluid
- Stop leak—if you happen to get a hole in the radiator, this can be a lifesaver (literally)
Oh and throw in a couple of bottles of water. You can drink it in a pinch, or it can also be used to wash your hands if you're dirty from fiddling under the hood, or use it to top up your radiator if you've not got any coolant.
The kit I keep in my vehicle is basically just a modified bug out setup, but it's a little larger because I've got a bit more space in my trunk. In it, is everything I need to survive should I get stranded with my car.
I've split the items into two kits, one is a small backpack I can grab and go should I need to abandon my car in a hurry, the other is an empty 5-gallon bucket I've filled with additional supplies that are a little heavier, and will make life far easier for my family if we ever get stranded.
Of course, this will all depend on the individual needs of your family, along with the climate and area where you live, but use this list as a starting point and build on it from there:
- Mylar blankets. You definitely want more than one, as they're flimsy and can tear after use.
- A fire-starting kit, with more than one way to get a flame, along with tinder
- Water purification tablets, along with a couple of gallons of water.
- Protein bars and freeze dried meals.
- Metal canteen (for boiling and storing any water you can collect)
- Paracord (30-50 feet)
- Flashlights, go for LED's as they use less battery power
- Wool blankets to keep you warm
- Winter gear if you're somewhere cold
- Deck of cards or something else to help pass the time
- Glow sticks for lighting at night.
- Compass, just in case your GPS isn't working
- A small first aid kit
- Camping shovel that folds down
- Hatchet for collecting firewood
- Bug spray because mosquitoes are the devil
- Wet wipes to keep everything clean
- A large tarp to keep the rain off
In an emergency, your car may be the very thing that saves your life, so it pays to think a little, and ensure you'll be able to survive with the gear you've got in your car. Erring on the side of caution is always a good idea, so pack it in your kit, and be safe no matter where you are.