If a disaster stuck right now, could you be on the road in under two minutes? More importantly, would you have everything you need to survive? Unfortunately (even for many survivalists), the answer to these two questions is a resounding no. Our goal today is to help you prepare your car with a few simple additions, to ensure it's always ready to get you and your family to a safe haven at a moment's notice. Hopefully you already have an ideal bug out location mapped out, so we can get to work on your vehicle. If you Google "bug out vehicles," you'll find thousands of pictures of fully-decked out SUV's that are jacked up halfway to the sky, with monster truck tires and heavy duty grilles; everything you could imagine in a real survivalists dream car. These bad boys are a lot of fun to drive, but often they're not practical, especially in day to day life. What matters most isn't the all terrain vehicle parked in your garage that's capable of scaling a mountain, you simply need a vehicle with the ability to get you to your bug out location. No matter what car you drive, the real trick is to keep it roadworthy and pack it with the right supplies. Your car kit has to contain the gear you need for a 72 hour period, in addition to a set of automotive supplies to keep your car running. Keep your car well maintained, and make sure there's no problems driving long distances in a range of different conditions. The good news is that this preparation doesn't have to cost a fortune, our team of experts at APE Survival have a number of small additions that massively boost your vehicles ability to get you to safety. The first is to pack two kits for your car. Have a fully stocked bug out bag with survival gear, as well as food and water, as well as a separate kit for your car. This means if you ever need to abandon your vehicle in a hurry, you can leave the automotive kit and save yourself having to cart unnecessary weight when you're booking it on foot. We'll cover a packing list for your bug out bag in a separate post, and read on to find out what you need in your automotive kit.
Vehicle Essentials for Bugging Out
- Spare tire, tire jack and a tire iron. Without tires your car isn't going to be going anywhere effectively. Keep an eye on both the pressure and the tread, especially during winter, and consider keeping tire chains in your car if you may need to drive through snow. If you need to go off-road to reach your bug out location, consider keeping a full set of spare tires in your car, and a can of Fix-A-Flat to get you out of a pinch.
- Battery and jumper cables. Without power, your car's not going to start. Replace your battery every four years, as they can lose their ability to properly hold a charge over time, and if you keep a spare in your car, routinely check it to ensure its maintaining its charge.
- Spare fluids. Change the oil and any fluids in your car regularly yourself, and have a spare bottle of every fluid that you use in your car kit. This means you've got coolant, or power steering fluid handy, right when you may need it most.
- Gas. Without fuel your car will not be going anywhere, so make it a habit to never let your tank drop below half full. This ensures you've always got some gas to get out of the immediate area in a disaster, and store a couple of jerry cans at home to give you greater range when you're bugging out. In this same line, keep a prybar and a siphon pump with you, in case you need to top up your fuel from any abandoned cars as you're bugging out.
- Communication. Have a means of communicating with the outside world. This includes a working radio in your car, and perhaps even installing second CB radio to give you the ability to broadcast and receive locally in a disaster. Keep a charger that fits your mobile phone in your car, and consider also a power inverter so you can charge any electronic devices when you're on the road. A flare gun is a favorite of the team in APE Survival, and while it lacks discretion, there's nothing better to help you signal for help or draw attention in a survival situation.
- All Purpose Toolkit. If your car breaks down you're not going to be able to do anything without basic tools, so put together a kit with at least a flashlight, screwdrivers, wrenches, a hammer, pliers, a set of sockets, tow straps, and a roll of electrical and duct tape, at a minimum. At this point check to see if your car's manual is still in your glove compartment, and consider investing in a full-on repair manual for your make and model so you can perform any emergency fixes and get it running again. Plus, a handful of items like spare spark plugs, fan belts, and oil filters can come in handy in a pinch, especially if your bug out location is in a remote area.
- First aid supplies. Pack a more comprehensive first aid kit than the one you carry in your bug out bag, as you've got no concerns on weight because you won't be carrying this one away from your car. Remember the whole point of being prepared is to ensure you have the supplies you need to survive.
- Paper maps and a compass. Our recommendation at APE Survival is to never rely on electronics alone, as they require power and can be damaged quite easily, rendering them useless in large scale disasters. Whilst maps and a compass seem a little old fashioned, they are a lot more resilient than the GPS in your phone as they don't rely on having access to a power source.
- Important documents. Depending on the disaster, you may not get the chance to pack, or to even return home to grab important items like your passport, birth certificates, or any other critical information. Having copies of these ensures you can head straight to your bug out location, and avoid any of the risk present in returning to your home.
- General survival gear. The final items to pack are your general survival items, like food and water, clothing and protection from the elements, as well as a means to defend yourself. Most of these are covered by keeping a personal bug out bag in your car, but a little extra food and water and a spare firearm will never go astray in a disaster.