Prepping and Driving

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You spend a lot of time in your car commuting to work or school, running errands and traveling on vacations and weekends. Ensure you have all the essential prepper things you need should emergency strike while you’re out and about.

Being prepared is not merely a good rule for travel in highly remote areas. If you take the occasional extended road trip, you should pack a survival kit of crucial emergency supplies. We’ve compiled eight categories of essential supplies to carry in your car, made up from suggestions from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Army, the American Automobile Association (AAA), the Red Cross, and regional search-and-rescue teams. None, however, include Alpo.

The first priority for any stuck situation is maintaining hydration. The biggest hurdle when carrying water: It weighs 8 pounds per gallon and considering each person in the car will need to drink about a gallon a day, that’s a heavy load to haul around.

An option would be to carry refillable water bottles. When empty, they won’t add unnecessary weight, and you can fill them if you think you might be driving into remote areas. If you bring empty water bottles, bring water purification tablets. Chlorine-based tablets that you can find at camping stores will kill waterborne organisms if you have to fill your water bottles from a stream or lake.

For food, high-calorie energy and protein bars are great solutions. They pack a lot of calories into a small space and can be found at a good camping store. Be sure to avoid many of the ones you see at the convenience store; they contain too much salt and sugar. The better ones have less of both so they won’t make you thirsty. And at between 2400 and 3600 calories per bar, they’ll keep you nourished in an emergency. The ER Emergency Food Bar, for example, claims to provide 72 hours of nutrition and has a shelf life of five years.

It’s smart to pack a wool blanket and some chemical warm packs, too. A wool blanket works well even if it’s damp. An emergency blanket (also known as a space blanket) is a metal-coated plastic sheet that marathoners use to keep warm after a race. It, too, can keep you warm in an emergency. Chemical heat packs react with air and can add warmth inside a blanket. They can be stopped and started for up to 15 hours.

Be sure to pack a flashlight, glow sticks, matches, and emergency candles. We like rechargeable flashlights that park in your car’s 12-volt outlet. To help keep you dry, bring along a waterproof poncho with a hood. A plastic whistle with two chambers should also find space in this kit—it works much better than shouting for help.

Bring along a solar- and hand-crank-powered light/radio/cell phone charger. Be sure to buy one from a reputable source—we’ve heard many stories that some don’t work long enough.

And, yes, you will need extra clothes and a good winter hat. We’d recommend packing a small tarp too, in case you need temporary shelter.

If you’re venturing away from civilization—or if you just have kids—it’s smart to keep a first-aid kit in the car. We’d get the most thorough one we could find, but even some fairly basic ones include:

-Several gauze bandages 4-inches square, and smaller adhesive bandages
-Cloth tape
-Eyewash cup
-Absorbent pads for bleeding
-Antiseptic wipes and nitrile gloves (latex sometimes provokes allergies)
-Burn ointment
-CPR mask
-Elastic sprain bandage, SAM splint
-Scissors, tweezers, safety pins
-Aspirin and non-aspirin pain relievers
-Nausea medication
-Duct tape

If you find yourself off the road somewhere where a tow truck’s not an option, you need a backup plan. If you own a 4WD truck, we’d spend the money and invest in an electric winch rated for the weight of your vehicle. Then purchase a full winch recovery kit so you’ll have a tree-saver strap, a good-quality tow strap, a clevis, and other great equipment. Even if you don’t have a winch, a Hi-Lift Jack can be used as a heavy-duty come-along winch or as a sturdy jack to lift your car so you can change a flat tire.

If you plan to drive in snowy climes, get some proper snow chains. But if the car gets really stuck, you’ll likely need a good shovel too. Glock, the famed pistol-maker, also makes the coolest folding shovel we’ve seen. It uses a lightweight composite handle and a steel pointed blade. It’s about a pound less than similar army-surplus-style entrenching tools.

The old-school solution to gaining traction in snow was to carry sand or kitty litter. But that’s heavy stuff, and many times you can use the shovel to dig down to dirt for traction. In deep snow (or sand), you can often dig down far enough to slip your floor mats underneath both of the tires that are receiving power. Sometimes these mats provide enough traction to ease the car onto a surface with better grip.

Be careful to stay a safe distance from traffic that passes. You can aid your chances for survival with flares and by wearing brightly colored clothing. Why not pack an orange reflective vest in your car for added measure?

Getting your car kit together may take some planning, but it will be well worth the effort.

Happy endings…While the list above is long, if you had to pare it down to three things, then these items would virtually guarantee your survival — a quality fixed blade knife, a metal water container (appropriate also for cooking/boiling water), and a fire starter. Make sure to have these things with you at all times with several redundancies in your get-home bag, bug-out bag, and 72-hour emergency kits.

The road less traveled is never as interesting. Pack your vehicles and enjoy when the rubber meets the road. You can handle anything that comes your way because you’re a prepper!