Basic 3 Day Bug-Out Car Kit

Once, long, long ago, I was a young and not too bright young man I recall. One night I volunteered to drive a young lady to her home out in the country in a friends' car. It was a pleasant ride for me having this young lady sitting there giving me simple directions; like, turn to the left here, go to that big oak tree and turn right 'see that barn? Turn there" and so on until we arrived at her house "out in the middle of nowhere".

This was in the State of Iowa when all the country roads were unpaved. It was before "Global Warming" or whatever the cause, but winters were quite severe with below zero temperatures being the norm and notorious for sudden snow and ice storms. The snow along the roadways often drifted high enough a giraffe would have to leap up to take a breath of air. It had snowed previously that night yet there were tire imprints from a prior car I followed to stay between the ditches.

Anyway, I spent an hour or so saying hello to her parents and departed with that warm feeling in my heart and my mind full of thoughts of other things, mostly her. The snow was falling again but I gave it no thought. I was distracted in thought like a young man should be I guess. A few miles from her home, my attention was quickly drawn back to my situation as a storm was raging by that time, sleet was falling and the road became a mirror of reflected ice and quickly the snow became a fog into which I could not see very far. I came to an intersection and decided to turn back to her house, yet even my own tire tracks were covered by then.

Where was that old oak tree? I sure couldn't see any barn. I could not even see a light across the rolling hills. I was lost. And lost on a very lonely & un-traveled road. I knew I could drive only so far as I had only a small amount of gasoline in the car. (Back then for us young people, we did not buy gasoline by the dollar amount; rather, we determined we were going to drive X number of miles and calculated the number of gallons needed and bought barely enough to make the trip). I knew I had to stop so I did. Right in the middle of what I hoped was the road so any other car coming along later would find me. Trying to walk away from the car was a "no way Jose" idea.

It was getting colder by the minute and I quickly scrounged around in the borrowed car to see what I could find to help me survive. In the trunk, I discovered his small toolbox, and inside were some candles, bless his heart. The temperature was still dropping and was well below zero. Inside the car, I soon began to shake from the cold even though I was wearing a good winter coat. The candle was helping me to live, but it did not feel like it at the time. I was no longer able to start the engine momentarily for heat and then turn it off to save gas because soon the snow had drifted too high around the car to make it dangerous to run with the gallon or two of gas left. I finally resorted to ripping up the floor carpeting to act as an emergency blanket. "He might get mad at me, but at least I have to live for him to say anything to me" were my thoughts on the matter. That was a very long and miserable night.

The next day brought a slaking up of the blowing snow, and the temperature was even colder. The last of my candles had been consumed. My being blanketed in the carpet was my only means of survival that day.

Not a house, barn, or shed in sight; nothing. No cars on a highway or road in the distance. No row of power poles to even suggest a road. I was going to be there a while longer. It wasn't too long before my tummy began to growl (I was a young man remember) and I sure wished for some hot tea that we often consumed on a cold day back home. Nothing to melt snow in, but did snack on a handful to wet my mouth while I waited.

Finally, two guys came riding across a field on snowmobiles (they were actually having fun!) and I used the carpet to flag them down. The point being, I survived; as attested to by my writing this article.

That ended my saga and started my lesson plan for lifelong study: Plan for the worse possible situation and prepare yourself by having the basic items with you to survive. We didn't have "those fancy below zero sleeping bags back in my time" however we had plenty of wool blankets and a couple got tossed into my mom's car [friend refused to loan me his car again for some reason] along with some candles and a small woodman's stove.

A well thought out and stocked bug-out bag at home is a great idea, but many forget about surviving when all they have is what's in the car out in the middle of nowhere during an emergency.

Driving even on the busiest of highways does not prevent you from encountering unanticipated life-threatening situations that you may have to deal with for hours or even days. Ever hear of people suddenly stranded for days on main interstates from a blizzard? I recall the TV news image of a man stranded on a principal interstate in downtown Houston when a flashflood of 15 or more feet of water caused even semi-tractors to float or sink around him. Luckily for him, he was on a relatively high point on the road between two lows spots. Sat there for quite a long time until helicopters busy rescuing more dire folks finally arrived to pluck him from the water.

If you traveling to Aunt Millie Sue's house for the weekend along Interstate XX on a sunny afternoon and all of a sudden one of those rare but wicked snowstorms struck and all traffic in both directions had to stop, could you sit it out ok? Would you be concerned? When you see the blowing snow burying the car in front of you with drifting snow in a matter of minutes, how concerned would you become? When the high winds suddenly literally push that small car totally off the roadway and sideways into the ditch, would you become concerned then? How about when you are driving along and a tornado pops up and tears down all the trees before and behind you for miles in this rural area. You're probably going to be there for some time. Do you have with you the things to keep you and your family safe until rescued? Or, if driving along in the sunshine in those flat areas out west and suddenly the road is blocked by raging flooding waters from seemingly nowhere, do you have the food and water to wait it out? Do you have simple items and tools for a shelter? How about that fire for the cold night coming on? (it really does get downright cold at night in the desert even). Could you signal that little airplane or helicopter flying by?

There are a limitless number of events, natural and manmade, which occur daily around our country that pits an individual against survival situations. Some owe their living through their ordeal to old fashion luck. Unfortunately, I am one of the SOB's you meet in life who has no luck. So I favor increasing my odds of seeing myself and my family safely through those emergencies with two basic principles I can control. Those are planning and preparation.

Before things happen, take some time and think of what you will do if the un-expectant happens. You are cool, calm, and collected now. When a sudden crisis happens I assure you most will not be cool, calm, and collected. Confusion and inability to think clearly will be the order of the day at first. So use a few minutes to think things through. Get your spouse and kids involved if you have them. Make the planning session a family event where all can have some new ideas tossed out and more importantly all know what the final plan is.

Where will you go if a natural or man-made emergency befalls you? Do you know where there is a designated emergency shelter? How do you get there? If you can not get there or it is not usable to you, do you know the location of others? Can you go to a family or friend's home? Where are other places you can go temporarily? If you are tooling down the highway to Uncle Billy Bob's house and come up to that downed bridge, now how are you going to get there? What is the alternative route(s)? In an emergency, you need to know these types of details. Think them through and then write them down. Write them in a small notebook and stash it in the glove compartment where you and your spouse can find them.

You will discover while thinking these things through, a plan of action will of course be prepared, but you will also be thinking of what things you need to have at hand during that crisis. There is no way I nor anyone else, could ever prepare "a list of things you do and do not need" to carry. While thinking of possible emergencies and how/where you are going to deal with them, the things you might need will come to mind and you can jot them down now while you are still cool, calm, and collected.

Keep in mind that a car survival kit should contain the basics of a 3-day bug-out bag. The emergencies that can strike when you are at home are also just as likely to occur when you are away from home and you have only the car kit to keep you going for a couple of days until you can "get out" or make your way to a designated emergency site and then "live" for a couple of days. The good thing about a car kit is it is normally very close to you; either at your home, at work, and of course while traveling.

A small kit of survival items can easily be prepared and unobtrusively stashed in the trunk. Not even seen until needed, but it's there to save you and others when needed. Small enough not to interfere with packing even after making a Wally-World run. (You know, go in to buy one thing and come out with two shopping carts full of stuff).

Here are some things I suggest having in a small bag. I have left out emergency vehicle tools and supplies for those are another topic in and of themselves. While the list seems long, the items can be packed into a rather small package. The items can be purchased individually or scrounged around the house; however, several well thought-out survival kits as sold on this site contain most, if not all, the suggested items.

  • First-aid kit
  • One week's supply of personal medications
  • Road maps of the area, city/county/state/national
  • Small compass
  • Change of clothing for each person
  • Flashlight with spare batteries or dynamo hand crank Flashlight/AM/FM Radio
  • Emergency blankets or sleeping bags for all aboard
  • Emergency Candle, (long burning, believe me on this)
  • Matches, waterproof
  • Cigarette lighter, small
  • Strike-Lite & Quick-Tender
  • Metal cup(s) (Sierra or military canteen cup)
  • Emergency foods for 3 days minimum for each person
  • Quick foods like a few Granola bars, dried fruit, trail mix, jerky (I think it lasts for 2 life times), cheese &/or peanut butter & crackers, tea &/or coffee bags, Electrolyte powdered drink packs, miniature packs of ketchup, mustard, sugar, coffee creamer, salt & pepper packs like from fast food restaurants. A small zip lock bag (with the air sucked out with a straw) works great. Even if you don't like the stuff, it makes for great trading at the emergency center for things you do.
  • Emergency water; if climate permits to be carried in trunk; otherwise move to passenger compartment as you drive to Sister Tyronette's place. Plan on at the minimum of a gallon per day per person and a few gallons if driving/living in a dry region.
  • Nylon rope or 550 Para Cord 25'
  • Plastic tarp, 8' x 10', for shelter and catching rain if needed.
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Lip balm
  • Games &/or books for the kiddies are a must if you have never driven with kids along
  • Small roll of toilet paper
  • Dust masks
  • Safety whistle(s)
  • Emergency contact list with telephone numbers in different states if possible
  • Water purification tabs
  • Multi function tool
  • Pocket knife
  • Chemical light stick(s)
  • Rain poncho(s)
  • Lexan spoon(s) (similar to those heavy duty ones from fast food places)
  • Soap, small bar of antibacterial
  • Duct tape
  • Plastic trowel
  • Paper & pen/pencil for telling "which you way went"
  • Sunglasses for all
  • Spare cash and change stashed for those "we don't accept credit card" places. During an emergency when power and telephone lines are down and credit card machines turn black, I think you will likely see many such signs popping up.

I hope this article does what it is intended. That is to start you thinking. Preparing your personal plans for the variety of emergencies that, God forbid may befall you. Secondly, to assist you in ideas of basic supplies and equipment to have available if an emergency does happen to ensure you survive the ordeal.


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