The Automotive Survival Kit
It is 1:00 AM on a desolate stretch of Interstate and there’s barely a star in the sky. The night is aggressively cold, and there’s a light layer of frost on the road. Looking down to change the radio you look up at two glowing eyes puncturing the darkness. You swerve, slide, correct, and come to rest cradled between the two banks of a drainage ditch. Thankfully, you’re uninjured, but your car won’t start and you have no cellular reception. This is a bad time to figure out you’re unprepared.
A survival kit in your vehicle is a good idea. A few simple provisions can go a long way and can make a night on the side of the road a much more comfortable and safe experience. I’m notoriously unlucky, and I’ve spent more than a few unexpected nights on the side of a road. I always have a survival kit in my car, and so my hapless predisposition to breaking down has never gotten me killed.
First off, every survival kit is personal. A survival kit is made for you to help you be more comfortable in a tenuous situation. Some guy from JohnDoeSurvivalGear.com doesn’t know that you like orange chamomile tea when you’re feeling sad. It’s fine to scavenge parts from other kits, but compile your own list of necessities. A first-aid kit is a baseline. Not only is this for your safety, but also it’s useful if you need to provide assistance for someone else on the road. Next, you must account for your environment. I’ve added hand warmers to my first aid kit. This is an indispensable item if you are spending a winter night outside, and it’s easier than making a fire. Have a pair thermal bottoms and tops (long johns), warm socks, an insulated upper layer, and a windproof/ waterproof jacket or Shell. Even in the summer, temperatures can dip into the 40’s or lower. If you are wet this is cold enough to make you hypothermic, so you need to have a way to get dry and warm. This brings me to my next point: fire. Have a way to make a fire. You can use it to get warm, get dry, and signal help. Lastly is sustenance. I know that while sitting in your car over night you won’t starve to death, but I know I get rather cranky after twelve hours without food and water.
As mentioned before this is not a list to copy, you must put thought into your survival kit, be pro-active, do some reading, be prepared. Build your survival kit, throw it in your car, and breathe easy knowing you’ll probably never use it. Nevertheless, following old-woodsman logic, “It’s better to have something and not need it, than need it and not have it.” Safe travels.