How to prepare your vehicle for the unexpected

This blog is going to go into detail about how to prepare your vehicle for if you ever find yourself stranded due to bad weather, breakdowns, or unforeseen circumstances. Many people drive up and down the country not even thinking about what do they have on them if they were to find themselves in a situation where they have broken down in a remote location, stranded in bad weather, etc. In certain areas it can take a few hours until rescue can get to you and this has to be considered.

Watch this short video where Derek discusses critical items he carries in his vehicle:

Carrying these items will help you thrive instead of just surviving, as well as keeping you safe if you ever found yourself in a situation.

  1. Protection – Starting off with your vehicle, if you are able to, staying in your vehicle protects you from the elements – rain, snow and wind. However if it is not running it won’t protect you from the cold and if it is running then running your vehicle for 5-10 mins every hour will give some minimal heat while conserving fuel. Therefore it is useful to remember about the clothing layering system:
    • Waterproof Jacket
    • Waterproof Trousers
    • Down Jacket
    • Thermal Middle Layer
    • Hat
    • Gloves
    • The clothes you are wearing
  2. Continuing with protection, having methods of fire lighting; matches, lighter, striker, cotton wool etc. You will see in the video above Derek is also carrying tea lights with him as he can light them and have them in the vehicle with him as a source of light and some heat (have it lit on a non flammable base and crack the window open a little bit), another use is to keep a flame if it is challenging fire lighting weather.
  3. Tools; knives and multi tool – this will assist with collecting kindling for the fire, cutting cord to make a shelter and even whittling to keep your mind busy; referring to keeping the Will to Live.
  4. Means of getting located:
    • Whistle – having a pealess whistle is a necessity when going out and about, it is loud enough to get you heard by anyone nearby.
    • Survival Bag – the bright orange survival bags are great for using as a form of protection or as a method of highlighting your location.
    • Phone and battery pack – have a way of charging your phone that doesn’t rely on your vehicle working. This will help hugely. Refer to our blog “DEVICES AND MOBILE APPS; WHAT DO BCS USE” on how we use our phones to help get located other than calling 999. Also keep the battery pack insulated if possible to prolong battery life.
  5. Having a personal first aid kit as a minimum is beneficial, you don’t know what situations you could end up in. Keep the first aid kits stocked up as well.
  6. A compass – if you end up stranded in an area you do not know, this will help orientate yourself and hopefully help you get to safety if your decided to leave your vehicle. If you do have plans to go somewhere, get a map of the area.
  7. Paracord is a fantastic item to carry due to its multi use; it will help with shelter building, making a pot stand to aid boiling water, repairing items, etc.
  8. A method of boiling water. Derek shows his gas cooker and metal pot that does not rely on a fire being established. This way he can always have clean water (as long as he is near a source of water) and he can have a hot drink or cook himself food.
  9. Food and snacks. Have a stash of food like ‘boil in the bag’ rations and some long life snacks stored away. Keeping yourself fed, especially with warm food, helps to increase your internal body heat keeping you warmer.
  10. Keep fresh water. When going away Derek fills up the container/bag with water so he is always carrying around 2L of water with him. This will keep him hydrated as well as assisting with cooking up his food. Having a water filter or chlorine tablets will give you another method of making water safe to drink if you can’t boil it.
  11. Headtorch. Having a good quality head torch and spare batteries is also a good idea. This means you don’t have to use your vehicle lights and waste its battery. It will also give you a light source if you make the decision to leave your vehicle.
  12. Sleeping System. You don’t know how long you may be stranded for so it is always best to be prepared, having a sleeping bag in the vehicle will not only help if you need to be in it overnight but it will also protect you from the cold whilst you are waiting. This alongside a bivi bag and a sleeping mat will help you thrive and stay warm in very cold conditions.
  13. The best advice is usually to stay with your vehicle, however if the situation arises that you have to move, it is useful to have a rucksack so that you can carry gear along with you. This could be used to store your items in whilst not in use as well.
  14. Snow chains. During winter conditions these can be very useful to ensure you can still drive safely on snow covered roads.
  15. Extra fuel. This will allow you to run your vehicle for longer if stranded with it or to drive further to safety when in areas with no fuel stations. If carrying extra fuel make sure you have a funnel or nozzle that fits into the fuel filler cap. Modern filler caps are designed to only let certain types/sizes of nozzles in so make sure you carry one that fits.
  16. Shovel – to help dig you out of the snow if your vehicle became stuck.
  17. High vis jacket, to keep you seen and safe if moving around the outside of your vehicle.

We hope this blog and supporting video gives you some ideas of items to consider having in your vehicle next time you are heading off on an adventure or long drive up and down the country, especially when there is a chance of adverse weather conditions. For further advice or training on this topic or other survival and bushcraft courses please head to our website