We are used to having one or two cars per family, and we can’t see us living without these useful vehicles. Your vehicle will provide you with transportation to safety, and it may even become your shelter during a disaster. Prepping your car could save lives, and it’s critical to always have a well-prepared and well-maintained vehicle.
Prepping your car – Upkeep and Inspections
Keeping your vehicle in good shape shouldn’t be done only for the end of the world and it should be a general rule. You shouldn’t do the yearly inspection just because your state’s regulations require you to do so.
Do it because that car you drive daily keeps you safe and gets you back to your family. You don’t have to be a mechanic to spot if something is wrong with your car.
Here are just a few necessary checkups you can do before prepping your car:
- Check if the tires are in good shape and properly inflated.
- Check if the windshield wipers are in good condition and if all the lights are working.
- Make sure your brakes are holding without making any squealing noise.
- Pay a good look at the hoses, belts and the radiator and make sure they are in good shape.
- Check the battery for any signs of corrosion. You should replace it every three to four years, to make sure you don’t get any surprises.
- Make sure all your systems are performing well and you don’t have any warning lights/symbols flickering on the board.
If any of the basics checkups listed above made you wonder, you should get the problems fixed right away.
Prepping your car is not only about what others can do for it, but it’s about what you can do for your vehicle. There will be times when you will be on your own and without a repair kit, your car will become a roadblock.
Prepping your Car – Repair Kit
Every car owner should have space for an emergency repair kit in the car. When it comes to prepping your car you should consider the following for your repair kit:
- A spare tire
- A tire repair kit
- Jack and tire iron
- Gravel, sand or kitty litter that can be used for traction on icy road spots
- A box of extra fuses
- Duct tape
- Hose clamps
- Road Flares
- A collapsible or multi-use shovel
- Snowbrush and ice scraper
- Windshield washer fluid
- Oil and engine coolant (the type recommended for your vehicle)
- Jumper cables
- Fire extinguisher
- Pry bar
- An empty gas can, siphon, and funnel (you will have to scavenge for fuel at some time)
These items are a minimum for prepping your car and you should consider getting them. If you know how to do your own repair, a more extensive tool chest is required, but that’s not the case for all people. Most of us will have to find a reliable auto mechanic or use other means of transportation.
This is not the time to learn how to tear down an engine, but you should at least be able to change a flat tire, check the oil and add coolant.
When it comes to my car, I’ve developed the habit of filling the gas tank when it is half full. I’m doing this because I don’t want to be caught off guard if something happens. Gas will be rationed or become unavailable during a crisis and you don’t want to run on empty. You might have fuel stored somewhere, but you need to get there first.
Prepping your Car – Emergency Kit
Besides a repair kit, every car should have an emergency kit. The good news is that you can use your bug out bag for that. Your bug out bag should include most of the items needed for an emergency if you’ve done your homework.
Think about adding these items when prepping your car:
- Water and food depending on the number of your family members
- Energy bars
- Waterproof matches
- Hot packs
- Sunscreen and insect repellent in summer
- A small compact medi-kit
- Light sticks
- Road flares
- Collapsible stove and fuel canister
- Aluminum foil
- Water filter
- Small pan
- Unbreakable cup or mug
- Hand cranked radio
- Flashlight (a hand-cranked or solar rechargeable one)
- A few heavy-duty trash bags
- Wool blankets
- A tarp
- A paracord
- Rain ponchos
- A cell phone
- A GPS system
- Baby supplies, if you have a young child (diapers, baby food, and so on)
- Pet supplies
- A few distraction items (something to keep the kids busy, like their favorite toys, portable video game, etc.)
- Make sure to add an extra set of clothing for each family member when prepping your car (it’s good to have gear that can be used for all types of weather)
- One or more protection items of your choice (firearms, crossbow, stun gun, knife, etc.)
Related article: These items should be in your 72 hour Bug Out Bag
Prepping your car – Travel Safe!
When you start prepping your car, you should start thinking about things that do not require buying or storing items. You might have everything you need in your car, but you are not ready to go without taking some precautionary measures:
There will always be someone who stays behind, friends or relatives, due to various reasons. You need to keep in touch with them even if you’re not close by. Make sure you leave your itinerary with them in case you have to meet up and establish a check-in schedule. This way they can find out you are safe and you will know more about how things are unfolding back home.
Plan your route before leaving and always have an alternative option in case you find roadblocks. You should stick to your course, but you should be smart enough to have a plan B. Every escape route should have two or more alternative paths that point to the same destination.
Fill up your gas tank when it’s half empty and do so with the first chance you get. Don’t say “I’ll do it at the next gas station, we still have enough” because you might not have this opportunity.
Do whatever you can to find out more info about the weather conditions and only go on the road if you know you can make it there. If the weather turns bad, stick to the route you know best, the one that you know you can handle.
If you didn’t stay on the route, you knew and you find yourself stranded, stay with your car. It is the safest place for you and your loved ones. Leave your car behind only if you are in danger and take your bug-out bag with you.
If something happens and you can no longer use your car, stay calm and think about the next steps. Calculate how much time you would need to get to your destination. Ration food and water if you have to and don’t be too strict with your children. Your children will need you at your best and if they panic you will have another situation on your hands that you have to deal with.
If you spot any other vehicle or people nearby, stay put and use your whistle or flares to signal rescuers. Pay attention to the “rescuers” as not everyone might have the right intentions. Your kids should stay in the car, out of sight. Be prepared to defend yourself in case you have to.
Prepping your Car – You should have a Plan B
“No matter what you do in life, you should always have a Plan B.” That’s what my grandpa used to say and I try to follow his words in everything I do. Prepping your car the right way greatly increases your chances of survival, but having a Plan B doubles those chances. There are some things you can do to make sure you always have an alternative because getting out alive is not enough. You’re on the road, you are safe…so what’s next?
First, you need to make sure you have a place to go to before prepping your car. A bug out location, a friend’s house, anything that will keep you safe will do. It’s no use prepping your car and getting on the road if you have nowhere to go, you should target a destination.
For example, if I have to bug out and if my bugs out locations are unavailable, I will reach for an abandoned fishing cabin that I know of. It’s in the same condition since 2003 and last year, when I checked on it, it was still there, untouched. You should think about your alternatives and select the ones that are in the reachable distance.
Second, you must understand that prepping your car is just the beginning and a vehicle is not that reliable. It will eventually break down, you will run out of fuel, and EMP Attack can happen, etc. You will not be able to cover a long distance by foot and you need another type of vehicle in order to make it.
You need a plan B here and it should be a bicycle. It’s probably the cheapest solution you have and you won’t be sorry if you consider it. A well-equipped bicycle will get you to your destination and it will do it sooner than you would expect. There are many other alternatives in case your car dies on you and it all depends on your budget and liking.
Related article: Bug out vehicles you can choose from
And third, be realistic when prepping your car and don’t go overboard. You will be tempted to load it with all sorts of items, even the ones that you don’t need. It’s better to stick to what you need because you will have a hard time carrying these extra items with you when ditching the car. If you want to pack extra items, pack extra food and water. You will consume the surplus on the road and you will have plenty to take with you when that time comes.
Prepping your car is something you have to do even when you go on a long trip and not just for an emergency escape. Keeping a well-prepared and well-maintained vehicle will save you a lot of trouble and you will have a reliable solution to make it out alive.
Stay Safe and God Bless!
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