- Always keep your car in optimal condition. Everything on your car--from regular oil changes and newish wiper blades to brakes that work well and lights in good working order--should work as well as when it came from the factory.
- Always keep at least a half tank of gas in your car. You never know when a power outage, longer than expected drive, or five hour freeway back-up will keep you from filling up your tank and you don't want to be running on fumes at a critical moment.
- Always keep your car well stocked. What if you couldn't get home and were stranded in the boonies in your car? Do you have the supplies to keep yourself watered, fed, warm, and entertained for a day or two in your car? Make sure you have a car BOB, extra water, tools and supplies, and anything else you may need to stay self-sufficient in your car for a period of time.
- Practice driving. You may be quite used to driving in your city but what if you had to drive in the mountains? Maybe desert driving is part of your regular routine but driving in the snow isn't. In any case, you want to be well versed in all driving conditions. If a driving situation is new to you, practice (ie: go to a big snowy parking lot and practice your snow driving skills). Ditto for other driving skills. Can you parallel park? Make a quick three point turn? Back up a hundred yards rapidly and precisely? Do a backing 180? Many skills you can learn on your own, others are better to be learned from an experienced teacher. There are a number of schools that teach everything from basic driving skills to executive protection and combat driving skills; seek them out if necessary.
- Be prepared for the most common road disasters you are likely to come upon. In the woods, it is a good idea to carry a chainsaw with you as you never know when a tree will go down across the road and you need to clear it in order to go forward. A wench on your truck is also a nice to have item. In the city, you are more likely to come across a medical emergency or car fire so carry a blanket, some basic medical supplies, and a fire extinguisher. Always carry a cell phone and car charger.
- Have an evacuation plan. You don't want to figure out the how and where of evacuation as the police are driving down your street ordering everyone to leave. That's too late. Keep maps in your car and study them occasionally so you will know which routes are your plan A, B, and C to get away from your home or office. Have your car stocked and ready to go--you don't want to pack up your stuff after you've been given the evacuation order; this causes confusion and important things to be left behind. If possible, evacuate ahead of time. Figure that an evacuation (ie: because of an impending hurricane, a wild fire, a chemical spill, etc) will take much longer than usual and leave before you get the order. By paying attention to the news, you will know that a wildfire is in the area or that a hurricane is heading your way. Also note that if one of these quick-moving disasters is even in your general area, there is a good possibility that it could change directions and head straight for you so leave with plenty of time to spare.
- Consider your family members. Some things to consider: make sure everyone of age has good driving skills; they may need to be your driver in certain instances. If you have young children or medically frail relatives, pre-plan for their evacuation by keeping some of their necessary supplies (diapers, meds, etc) in the car and taking extra time to evacuate them. You will also need a plan D with these types of family members because while your sturdy teenager may find a few nights camping in the winter wilderness a fun experience, great grandpa or your newborn baby will not. Consider hotels or other shelters in these cases.
- Desperate times call for desperate measures. If you are a high profile target (ie: ambushes, kidnapping, and shooting in your direction is to be expected), you may want to consider an armored-type vehicle made for your protection that features run flat tires, bullet proof glass, and reinforced paneling. A good driver can be worth his weight in gold so get one if necessary. A professional security team will also be able to plan routes, set up decoys, and manage other facets of getting you from point A to point B if necessary.
- Some other pointers: I always keep one car in the garage and one outside; if I need to leave in a hurry I will have options. I always back into my parking space/area--it is safer and faster to pull forward out of a parking spot when you leave. My cars are as plain as can be--nothing on the inside or outside of the cars says "steal me". If you do want custom feature on your car, don't make them obvious (ie: if you must have a nitrous system in your car, don't put Nos stickers all over the outside of it; you want to have the ability to do some fancy maneuvering if necessary but you don't want the world to know about it).
Monday, February 9, 2009
As one commenter pointed out in yesterday's post, many people died in the Australian wildfires in their cars. Here's a bundle of car survival tips that may come in useful: