You’ve heard the stories: a couple on their dream road trip to the desert finds themselves hopelessly lost. A family on its way to relatives drives along snowy roads and ends up in a ditch—the driver is one of the 100s involved in a massive highway accident. A typical drive to work can quickly turn into a nightmare.
Of course, you don’t like to think it could happen to you. But then, you don’t want to find yourself unprepared if something does. Vehicle safety expert Alex Perdikis cautions drivers ” … to prepare yourself mentally and physically beforehand…” for emergencies. And preparing for an emergency means having a survival kit in your car.
Sure, you can buy ready-made kits. But what’s in your car survival kit can be the difference between life and death. Your kit has to cover all of the basics as well as your individual needs. Here’s how to do it.
Look for a container you can see through, has a tight-fitting lid, and with enough room to store required items.
Surprisingly, you can get a lot in small containers, so experiment a bit if your vehicle space is limited. If you use a backpack or similar non-waterproof container, pack individual contents in waterproof bags before placing them in the container.
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Backpacks have advantages, however, because they’re easy to carry if you need to walk. Plastic containers work well and come in a variety of sizes. Other container ideas include:
- wheeled trash can: If you drive a pickup or large vehicle, a wheeled trash can with a lid is a great choice. They’re easy to maneuver and have loads of space.
- Bucket with lid: Five-gallon buckets provide lots of protected space. A backpack option is available with some brands that add the ability to carry with ease.
- Military duffel bag: Easily stored in tight places because they’re soft-sided, duffel bags come in a variety of muted colors and sizes.
You don’t have to limit yourself to one container as long as each is easily accessible.
Your basic needs must be met within the confines of your kit. That means food, water, and protection from the elements. At the very least, include the following items in your kit:
- Bottled drinking water and water purifying tablets.
- Non-perishable snacks such as high-calorie breakfast or energy bars.
- Blankets and extra clothing. Space blankets are compact but provide heat when needed.
- Flashlights and extra batteries.
- Toilet paper and baby wipes.
- Additional items for child or pet care if needed.
- Plastic utensils.
Pack a separately contained first-aid kit to your arsenal. A purchased basic kit gives you a head start, but add other items to fit your individual needs. Pack a supply of band-aids, antiseptic, bandages, tweezers, antibiotic ointments, gauze, hand sanitizer, and cotton balls.
If you take daily medications, include a few days’ supplies in your kit. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about certain medications, such as insulin. Insulin typically requires refrigeration but some newer formulas remain viable for several days without cold storage. Replenish and replace items as they’re used or become outdated.
Add This — It Could Save Your Life
What’s the one thing no one thinks of adding but could save your life? A can of Rescue teams in the Canadian Arctic explain stranded people tend to finish off the food in their survival kits quickly. Then what? Dog food will sustain you in an emergency. If it makes you feel better, choose a human-grade dog food. And remember to buy a can with a pop-top lid.