A friend once told me that no other country on this planet experiences so many natural disasters as the United States and while I never bothered to check the incidence of natural disasters in other countries, I do have to admit he was kind of right.
After all, we are hit every year by forest fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and snow storms and it seems that these natural disasters are only growing in intensity. These calamities, though diverse in nature, share a common outcome: they force ordinary individuals to swiftly abandon their homes in the pursuit of safety.
So, in order to ensure the safety of your family in such dire situations, a reliable vehicle is indispensable. In this article, we will discuss what needs to be done to make our vehicles bug-out-ready.
What vehicle should I use?
In times of emergencies, the type of bug-out vehicle you own becomes inconsequential compared to the paramount objective of reaching safety swiftly. Your vehicle doesn’t need to be the last model available on the market or the prettiest car on the block. It just needs to be a reliable means of escape.
I own a ‘96 Ford Bronco and an F150 truck and my wife drives a Toyota Land Cruiser all of these cars would make a great bug-out vehicle because they are well-maintained and we make sure to keep a fuel supply at home.
Regardless of your vehicle’s make or model, it must be primed and ready to go when the need to evacuate arises. During an evacuation, you might have mere minutes to initiate movement, leaving no room for hesitation. Therefore, having a well-thought-out plan is of utmost importance, encompassing everything from your designated escape route to the essential items you should carry for a successful exit from the area.
As I always stress, survival centers on solid plans, and this scenario is no exception. Lack of preparation can lead to panic, and panic can have deadly consequences.
Remember, emergencies are unpredictable, and the best defense is preparedness. Having a well-maintained bug-out vehicle, stocked with necessary supplies and following a clear evacuation plan, can significantly increase your chances of safely navigating through challenging times. Take the initiative today and ensure you are ready to face whatever comes your way. Your life and the lives of your loved ones may depend on it.
Taking care of your vehicle(s) is a must
Your vehicle can be your greatest ally in times of crisis, but only if it’s in good shape. Neglecting maintenance could jeopardize your safety and hinder your ability to evacuate efficiently. Therefore, it is vital to stay on top of all required maintenance tasks. Regularly check the fluids in your vehicle, ideally at least once a week, and even more frequently if you frequently cover long distances. Ensuring proper fluid levels will contribute to your vehicle’s optimal performance during an evacuation.
Don’t overlook the importance of tire and brake maintenance. Confirm that your tires are in excellent condition, with ample tread depth for secure driving. Additionally, assess the state of your brakes to avoid any untimely surprises during critical moments. Address any necessary repairs or replacements promptly—now is not the time to procrastinate.
Imagining a breakdown in the middle of an evacuation is a nightmare scenario. However, with the right precautions, it can be averted. Always carry a well-stocked toolbox in your vehicle, including essential tools to handle minor repairs on the go. Don’t forget to inspect and ensure that your spare tire and jack are in proper working condition. Having a spare that’s ready for use can be a lifesaver.
Furthermore, prepare for unforeseen mechanical issues by carrying extra belts, hoses, wiper blades, oil, and antifreeze. These spare parts can prove invaluable if you encounter vehicle-related problems during your evacuation journey. Additionally, don’t leave home without jumper cables and road flares, which can assist you in jump-starting your vehicle or attracting attention in case of an emergency.
Lastly, never underestimate the significance of a full gas tank. During an evacuation, stopping for fuel might not always be an option. Keeping your gas tank topped up ensures you have sufficient fuel to reach your destination safely. Running out of gas on the road can turn a challenging situation into a hazardous one.
Planning an escape route
When preparing your evacuation plan, several crucial aspects demand careful consideration. Planning involves assessing various factors to determine the best route for a safe and efficient escape. Let’s explore these key elements in detail:
Direct Route vs. Safest Route: One of the first decisions you must make is whether to prioritize the most direct route or the safest one. While these routes may align in some cases, they can diverge significantly in others. Keep in mind that safety should always be your utmost priority. Sometimes, the most direct route may not be the wisest choice due to potential hazards or congestion. In such instances, opting for a safer but slightly longer route might be a more prudent approach.
Vehicle Compatibility: Consider the capabilities of the vehicle you’re driving. Not all routes may be suitable for your particular vehicle type. For example, certain off-road trails or rugged terrains may require a high-clearance 4X4 vehicle. On the other hand, modern all-wheel-drive vehicles like our Subaru can handle various road conditions, but there are still limits. It’s essential to be aware of your vehicle’s capabilities and choose routes that are well-suited to its abilities.
Unique Circumstances: In specific regions, the availability of evacuation routes might be limited, making the choice obvious. For example, U.S. Route 1 in southernmost Florida serves as the sole road connecting the Florida Keys to the mainland. In emergency situations, such routes can become congested quickly, demanding swift action from residents. If you find yourself in a similar situation, always be prepared to evacuate promptly at the first sign of danger, without waiting for official orders.
Map Study and Practice: Prior to any crisis, study and familiarize yourself with various evacuation routes. Keep physical maps in each vehicle as a backup, in case electronic navigation fails. Practice driving these routes under normal conditions to familiarize yourself with the surroundings, potential challenges, and estimated travel times. This practice will increase your confidence and efficiency during an actual evacuation.
Caution with GPS: While GPS can be helpful, it’s crucial not to rely solely on it during emergencies. GPS systems might not always account for real-time road conditions or sudden closures. Always cross-reference GPS directions with your pre-planned routes and up-to-date information.
By thoughtfully evaluating these factors and making informed decisions, you can devise a well-rounded evacuation plan. Remember, preparedness and proactive measures are key to navigating challenging situations with confidence and ensuring the safety of yourself and your loved ones.
Avoid getting stuck
Having the right tools in your vehicle can be a lifesaver if you get stuck on the road. Here are some essential tools to keep in your vehicle’s emergency kit:
Tire Changing Tools: A spare tire, a lug wrench, and a functional jack are critical for changing a flat tire and getting back on the road.
Jumper Cables: Jumper cables allow you to jump-start your vehicle with the help of another vehicle if your battery dies.
Multi-Tool or Basic Tool Kit: A multi-tool or a basic toolkit with screwdrivers, pliers, and other common tools can be handy for minor repairs and adjustments.
Folding Shovel: A folding shovel can be used to dig your vehicle out of snow, mud, or sand if you get stuck.
Tow Strap or Recovery Rope: A tow strap or recovery rope can be used to pull your vehicle out if it’s stuck, provided you have another vehicle to help.
Tire Sealant and Air Compressor: Tire sealant can temporarily repair small punctures, and an air compressor helps inflate your tires to a safe level.
Duct Tape and Zip Ties: Duct tape and zip ties can be used for temporary fixes on various components until you can reach a proper repair facility.
First Aid Kit: A comprehensive first aid kit is essential for treating minor injuries until medical help is available.
Flashlight and Extra Batteries: A flashlight will prove invaluable if you get stuck in the dark or need to inspect your vehicle’s engine at night.
Reflective Warning Triangles or Flares: These will increase visibility and alert other drivers to your presence if you’re stranded on the road.
If you find yourself stuck on the road, follow these steps:
Stay Calm: Remaining calm is essential for clear thinking and decision-making during an emergency.
Turn on Hazard Lights: Alert other drivers to your situation by turning on your hazard lights.
Assess Your Safety: Ensure that you and your passengers are safe and away from traffic.
Call for Help: Use your cell phone to call for assistance if you have reception. If you’re in a remote area with no signal, you may need to wait for someone to pass by or walk to a location with better reception.
Use Warning Devices: Set up reflective warning triangles or flares to make your vehicle more visible to oncoming traffic.
Attempt Self-Recovery: If you have the appropriate tools and knowledge, try to self-recover your vehicle using a shovel, tire chains, or a tow strap if it’s safe to do so.
Signal for Help: If you’re unable to get your vehicle moving, raise the hood or tie a bright cloth to the antenna to signal that you need assistance.
Stay with Your Vehicle: In most cases, it’s safer to stay with your vehicle until help arrives, especially in adverse weather conditions.
Conserve Resources: Conserve food, water, and fuel while you wait for assistance.
Notify Someone: If possible, inform someone of your situation and location, so they can notify emergency services if you’re unable to call for help.
Remember, safety should always be your top priority. If you’re unsure about how to handle the situation or if it’s not safe to attempt self-recovery, wait for professional help to arrive.
Backup options if your car dies
It’s important to understand that no matter how well-prepared we are and how well-maintained our vehicles are kept, there are always situations that we cannot control. You may be involved in an accident or your car will get stuck in a region where no one can give you a helping hand and perhaps you will be forced to abandon it in order to look for help.
If you get in such a situation and you still have a lot to go until you reach your destination, you need to think about alternative means of transportation. In such cases, a bike or two will prove to be the inspired choice. I have an electric scooter and an electric foldable bike that I’ve purchased precisely for this reason. I can load these in my car and they don’t take up a lot of space. In case I get stranded and my car is rendered useless, I will use these means of transportation to get back to civilization.
What to keep in the cars at all times
Equipping our vehicles for emergencies is a vital step in ensuring our safety and survival. A well-prepared vehicle should always contain essential items and tools, enabling us to handle unforeseen challenges effectively. Here are some key components to consider when preparing your vehicle for any emergency situation:
Communication Gear: In today’s interconnected world, effective communication is crucial during emergencies, especially when evacuation is necessary. While cell phones offer a good starting point, it’s essential to acknowledge their limitations. Cell phone reception may be unreliable in certain areas, and during large-scale emergencies, networks can become overloaded or even go offline. Therefore, it’s wise to carry alternative means of communication, such as two-way radios or satellite phones, which can offer more reliable communication in remote or disaster-stricken regions.
Tools and Spare Parts: Equipping your vehicle with essential tools and spare parts can be a lifesaver when confronted with mechanical issues. A sturdy spare tire, a functional jack, wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, and cable ties are essential tools that should be readily available in your vehicle. Additionally, carry spare fluids like coolant, oil, and power steering fluid, ensuring you have enough to top up your vehicle when needed. Having extra belts, hoses, bulbs, and jumper cables on hand can also prove invaluable in emergency repairs.
Food and Water Supplies: Adequate food and water provisions are essential for sustenance during unexpected delays or prolonged evacuations. Keep at least two 16-ounce bottles of water per person in your vehicle at all times, increasing the quantity for longer journeys. Portable and non-perishable food items such as protein bars, trail mix, jerky, and meat sticks should also be readily available to keep you nourished until you reach a safe destination.
Comprehensive First Aid Kit: A high-quality and well-stocked first aid kit is a non-negotiable item for any emergency-ready vehicle. Ensure your kit contains bandages, antiseptics, pain relievers, adhesive tape, scissors, tweezers, and other medical supplies. It’s essential to go beyond the basic bandages and invest in a comprehensive first-aid kit that can address a wide range of medical issues. Having multiple first aid kits, both in the vehicle and in your bug-out bag, offers added security, as medical support might be scarce during an evacuation.
Organized Storage: Keeping all these items well-organized and securely stowed is vital to maximizing space and accessibility. Consider using compartments, storage boxes, or organizers within your vehicle, like the Land Cruiser’s numerous compartments, to ensure all gear is readily available when needed.
In conclusion, taking the time to prepare your vehicle for emergencies is an investment in your safety and that of your loved ones. Adequate communication tools, well-stocked first aid supplies, essential tools, food, and water provisions are indispensable elements of any preparedness plan. As you never know when an emergency might strike, maintaining a state of readiness in your vehicle could mean the difference between navigating challenging situations successfully or finding yourself unprepared and vulnerable.
A final word
This article has highlighted the fundamental items that should permanently reside in your vehicle. Additional items may be included based on the specific situation and time, but the essentials mentioned should always be on hand.
The crucial takeaway is that emergencies, whether natural or otherwise, can occur unexpectedly. In such instances, you might not have the luxury of ample time to plan and prepare. Having your vehicle primed for any contingency ensures that one less concern will burden you during critical moments. Knowing your vehicle is equipped and ready to bug out provides invaluable peace of mind, empowering you to respond swiftly and effectively when the need arises.
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