When talking about emergency preparedness and survival, your vehicle is your ticket Out of Dodge if you decide that ‘Bugging In’ is not your first choice of options. There are a number of good tips that can help keep you and your family safe as you navigate your way out of an urban disaster area.
1. Keep your vehicle gassed up and ready to go.
Try and maintain your vehicle at a minimum of ¾ of a tank. Whenever it drops below that it’s an easy and quick stop at the gas station to fill it back up. Consider that in a TEOTWAWKI or SHTF situation where everyone is trying to get away from the urban disaster, the lines at the gas station may be long if the gas stations are even open at all. It could be total chaos and if you are spending time trying to procure resources (such as fuel) that are in high demand instead of putting distance between yourself and the city (if that is the most desired course of action for you and your family), then you will have a much more difficult time escaping. (Check out this product that you can keep safely in your car – Spare Fuel)
2. Keep your doors locked.
This a good rule of thumb whether you are parked (to avoid unwanted visitors waiting inside when you are not in your vehicle) or whether you are driving. If you are stuck in any type of traffic or situation where you are moving slowly and the door flies open with someone wanting to help themselves to a ride or more, it adds whole new level of complication to your escape plan. There are also products out there to make your car less vulnerable to thieves and assaults, for example VehicleGard Glass Film Protection helps to fortify your car windows from attack.
3. Plan multiple routes.
There are no guarantees that the most direct, main road out of town will be open. This could be due to roadblocks or just congestion caused by everyone trying to go the same way to get away from danger. Having at least two or three alternative routes to get out of the area could pay huge dividends when time is critical. Also, make sure you have a good Road Atlas, do not just rely on your GPS, always have a backup. Remember – “Two is one, One is none”. Also, see “3 Maps That Should Be in Your Survival Gear“
4. Work as a team.
If your wife, husband, children, parents, roommates or friends are part of your bug-out plan and you are planning to take them with you (no judgment here), figure out who is better skilled at driving and who is better at navigation. The more efficiently you can operate a vehicle in the direction you need to go, the better off everyone will be. Even those sitting in the back seats can help with keeping an eye out for danger, threats, or other items of interest. Obviously having a bunch of people shouting at once is counterproductive to the driver and navigator doing their job. Some good guidance to brief your passengers is, if a threat is identified by them they call out:
A. Direction (threat in relation to the vehicle – front/ left side/right side/back or clock positions in relation to the vehicle with 12 O’clock being straight ahead)
B. Distance (distance of threat or object of interest from the vehicle)
C. Description (what does it appear to be)
Once this information is relayed to the driver and navigator in the front and they acknowledge, they can either choose to deal with it immediately or tell the passenger(s) who identified it to keep monitoring and report any changes. There are a number of options and procedures you can use to work efficiently as a team and make sure to get to you destination. It’s important to identify what will work best for you and the people you may be traveling with, to make sure you can help each other and communicate clearly without causing confusion to the driver and navigator.
5. Maintain your vehicle.
This may seem obvious but in the rush of our daily lives sometimes things get pushed to the side, forgotten or procrastinated until the last minute. Make sure you keep your oil changed, tires properly inflated, brakes in good working order, lights (headlights, high-beams, fog lights if you have them, turn signals, brake lights, tail lights etc) inspected and maintained. If there are any mechanical issues that you suspect could be a problem, try to address them early and get them taken care of immediately. You never know when disaster could strike and trying to fix your vehicle when you should be driving it, could cost you valuable time when you can’t afford to be sitting in place. In addition to keeping a survival kit in your car, also keep an emergency car tool kit.
6. Keep an emergency survival kit in your vehicle.
How robust this kit will be for your particular vehicle may depend on several factors. We have included a more robust kit below for you to check out. You may want some or all of these items or none at all depending on the vehicle you drive, geographic location, bug out location that you will be traveling to, and whether you will have the option to travel on unimproved surfaces to get there.
We have a more detailed guide for creating a car survival kit you should check out.
Ideas for your Emergency Survival Car Kit
- Air pump/compressor
- Bow saw
- Bungee cords
- Can opener
- Cell phone and/or CB (Note: steel whip CB antennas can be dangerous out on the trail)
- Cigarette lighter
- Coat hanger – don’t underestimate the number of uses for the common household coat hanger!
- Compass/GPS unit
- Duct tape
- Emergency Bivvy
- Extra motor oil (1-2 quarts)
- Fire extinguisher
- First aid kit (packed in a tight weatherproof container)
- Flashlight/lantern/spotlight – with extra batteries
- Food (dehydrated foods take little space and last a long time)
- Hydraulic/hi-lift jack
- ID card, with emergency phone number contact info & medication/allergy information
- Jumper cables
- Leather gloves
- Mirror (in addition to what is mounted on your vehicle)
- Multi-fit hose and a roll of rubber-weld tape – to repair a blown radiator hose
- Paper towels
- Pen & paper (a china marker writes on anything!)
- Radiator Stop Leak / Tank sealant putty
- Repair manual for your particular vehicle
- Rubber gloves
- Spare clothes
- Spare Fuel
- Spare key kept on your person
- Survival Knife
- T-style lug wrench
- Tarp (6’x6′) – to keep yourself out of the mud and to catch small parts
- Tire pressure gauge & tire pump; fix a flat
- Trash bags – heavy duty
- Water – enough for you (to drink, clean up) and your vehicle (battery, radiator, washer fluid)
- Waterless hand cleaner
- Waterproof matches
- Winch kit – including straps, snatch block (pulley), shackle
- Zip ties/cable ties
- Wood or similar to provide a foundation for jack on soft surfaces
The most important factor in any disaster situation is to have a plan and include others that will be involved in helping to develop and accomplish the goals of that plan. If you have other tips that you’d like to offer readers, please comment below. Remember that the more people who are ready for survival when and if the time comes, the better off everyone will be.