Another M40 Basement Project
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Due to a lot of requests about larger survival kits (especially trunk kits for your car), I've put together this page. This is another group of folks that keep dying (especially in Northern areas). They’re driving on some winding mountain road and get socked in by a blizzard. In many cases these folks will be stuck there for a good many days before help arrives. A few key items scavenged around the house would have saved their lives. Instead, we have to watch on the news as they find the poor bastard's corpse. They’re usually several miles from the car because they panicked and tried to hike out.
If I can, I’m going to try to keep most of these recommended
items at zero dollars (ie: things you’d have lying around the house). Hopefully
this will make more folks think about building at least a basic trunk survival
kit. If you really want to boost this kit's potential, then keep a small
WILDERNESS SURVIVAL KIT in the trunk as
FREE OR EXTREMELY CHEAP ITEMS YOU CAN FIND AROUND THE HOUSE
Some Old Sleeping Bags or Blankets – Many of us have old sleeping bags, quilts and blankets around the house. Remember to include enough for multiple people if you have a family!
Some Warm Clothing - Most of us have old jackets, mittens, hats, boots raincoats and the like which are destined for a dumpster. Toss them in the trunk!
At Least One Lighter! – For you non-smokers... dig through the drawers and cabinets and under your couch cushions... you’ll probably uncover at least a few lighters. If not... spend a couple bucks for a six-pack of these!
A Few Trash Bags – The big, durable contractor lawn and leaf bags are best, but any large trash bags will work. These can be worn as a poncho, or opened up as a tarp to help make a shelter. If you have a tarp laying around, definitely use that, but I’m trying to keep this list as close to zero dollars as I can!
A Small Cook Pot – Everyone has a few old pots and pans taking up space in the cupboard. You know... that really beat up dented and scratched thing that you never use, but haven’t thrown away yet... toss it in the trunk!
Packs of Ramen Noodles* – These are CHEAP (3 or 4 for a dollar), and are the staple food of college kids everywhere. Most people have a few of these stashed in the cupboard. Pack enough to keep you fed for at least a few days. Perhaps more importantly, these will not freeze or get heat damaged in the trunk.
*You can get creative on what food items you keep in your kit,
BUT remember that in most areas, food items will be subjected to temperature
extremes when left in a trunk, so stick to dry food items. Even canned food will
be damaged when repeatedly frozen and heated. Some other dry food items to
consider are individually wrapped dry (not chewy) granola bars. Also think about
instant coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and other powdered beverage mixes (provide
quick energy and/or heat).
Okay... we haven't discussed water yet, but it's VERY important. This is something that will be up to individual judgment, because storing water in the trunk can be a real pain in the ass. In hot climates, it gets nasty in a hurry. In cold climates, it freezes and tends to burst containers. Because of this, consider the area you live in and travel through. If it tends to have a lot of local water (streams, snow, ponds, etc), then you may want to skip carrying water and simply carry empty container(s) to carry water in and some basic water purification items (tablets, bleach or simply use your cook pot to boil the water before you drink it).
If you decide to store one or more jugs of water in your trunk, make sure you have heavy duty plastic containers. You can squash a container a little, and fill it only about 2/3 full so that it has room to expand when it freezes. Be careful of what container you use... some plastics get quite brittle when they're cold and will crack. Test the containers you plan to use in your freezer before tossing them in your trunk. The heavy gallon-sized plastic jugs that some orange juice comes packed in seem to work pretty well for this. Again, test before using them!
If the area you live in is hot, consider carrying a 12 pack of
bottled water in the back seat of your car. Change it out often so it doesn't
get nasty... whenever you go food shopping, put a new 12 pack in the car, and
then bring in the old one to use in the house.
CHEAP ITEMS THAT COME IN HANDY
So... you're willing to spend a few bucks on your safety. Here's some items that will cost you, but NOT MUCH. I've kept these cheap so don't get scared off!
- A Soda-Can Stove and a Small Bottle of Rubbing Alcohol – The stoves are about $5, and the fuel comes in at about $2 for a small bottle. Read more about this item on THIS PAGE.
- A Duraflame Log - These can be purchased at your local supermarket. They're a few dollars at most, and make lighting a fire in extremely bad weather almost effortless. They burn for several hours, so if you can't get a fire going with one of these... you shouldn't be leaving your house!
- A Can of Gasoline - This can be actual gasoline if it's in a durable container approved for use in a trunk. It can also be that substitute stuff that is intended for long term trunk storage (i forget what it's called). This gas could prevent a survival situation from happening in the first place! It can also be used to help start a fire in even the worst weather.
- Flares - Flares and other signaling items can come in very handy, especially if someone's actually looking for you. Consider picking some up!
- Folding Shovel - Any small shovel will work, but I like the small Glock folding shovels because they have a built in saw (see one HERE). Gerber makes a nice one as well. These are another item that can avert a potentially dangerous situation. Getting a car unstuck can be difficult, but it's a lot less difficult than living in your car for days on end!
- Bag of Sand or Rock Salt - Besides giving you better traction in icy conditions (additional weight), these can be used to give you traction and get you unstuck!
SHOULD YOU RUN THE CAR TO STAY WARM?
Running a car for heat is definitely an option, but it’s one that must be VERY carefully considered. I’d be most worried about fuel consumption. Once the blizzard (or whatever has you stranded) is over, and things start to clear, you may need that fuel to try and drive out. In that situation, you’d need to consider just how much fuel you have, and how much you’ll likely need to drive back to civilization. If you’re stuck 10 miles from town and have a full tank, then you're definitely in a better situation than if you’re 50 miles out and have a quarter tank.
If you're going to run the car for warmth, you should keep an
eye on the tailpipe. Make sure it's clear of snow or any kind of debris that
could channel fumes back under the car. Shy of that, you shouldn’t need to keep
windows open unless you’re leaving the car running for long periods of time
(that's not advisable in any case). Cracking the window from time to time can’t
hurt to keep fresh air in there.
Here’s my recommendation... if it’s really cold, then consider starting the car every half hour or so, and running the heat for 5 or 10 minutes. During that time, use the radio to check for weather forecasts of the storm passing (or worsening). I wouldn’t recommend using the radio much when the car isn’t running. It would be a shame to kill your battery and not be able to start the car again!
All of this is based on having warm clothing and blankets, and assumes you don’t NEED the heat full time (or at all). Let’s say someone was REALLY stupid and drove well out of town into sub zero temperatures and an oncoming blizzard. Let’s say they were so abysmally dim that they had no emergency supplies and were wearing very light clothing and no jacket. That person will NEED to run the car to stay alive. If the gas runs out... so does their life. Lesson... don't be stupid!
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE... BRING A CELL PHONE! - This is such an essential piece of emergency gear these days. There's likely tens of thousands of lives saved each and every year because folks have cell phones on their person. If you live in (or travel through) areas that are relatively unpopulated, these are even more essential. Consider picking up a car charger if you don't already own one. Cell signals travel roughly on line of sight from towers, so valleys and areas surrounded by hills tend to have terrible reception. As such, if you're stuck and have no reception, you can try hiking to higher ground or even climbing a tree. Anything that gets you higher up will increase the odds of getting a signal out.
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