Would you know what to do if your car broke down in the middle of nowhere? You can’t always count on having a cellphone signal to call for help, so here are a few tips to keep you safe if you’re stranded:
Plan ahead. Unless you’re always inside the city, outdoor survival expert Brian Brawdy has a list of things you should always keep in your car: A few gallons of water, a fleece blanket, and a tarp. You should also pack a first aid kit, matches, and – in case you run out of bottled water and have to find a stream – a container of water purification tablets.
If you do get stuck: Don’t leave your vehicle! Face it, a car is a lot easier to find than you’ll be on foot. And it’ll provide at least some shelter. Every year, people abandon a broken-down car to look for help and end up being found dead from exposure or dehydration; long after their car was discovered.
Use the floor mats or trunk lining for insulation on a freezing night, or shade on a scorching day. You can also use a broken-off mirror to signal for help. And if you get really creative, you’ll find something – like the console lid or glove box door – that’ll hold water if you break if off.
If your car’s operational, run your engine for 15 minutes every hour to help cool or heat your car. That’ll also allow you to use the horn and lights to attract attention without draining the battery. But beware of carbon monoxide poisoning! The deadly gas is colorless and odorless, so keep the fresh air flowing by cracking the windows. And if you’re stuck in snow or sand, get out every hour or so to make sure the tailpipe isn’t blocked with debris.
Do some light stretching inside your car. Our outdoor survival expert says that’ll help you keep warm, relieve stress, and give you something constructive to do while you pass the time waiting for help to arrive.