Most of them, if they’re anything like me, probably wouldn’t have had extra blankets for warmth, or food to fuel them through the night. After all, most of us don’t start our day thinking we might end up a victim of a catastrophe within a few hours. Thankfully, in this case, the highway drivers and their passengers were rescued by mid-afternoon the next day. But not everyone is so lucky.
In his new book Will To Live: Dispatches From The Edge of Survival, TV’s “Survivorman” Les Stroud chronicles the unfortunate story of a young family who found themselves stuck on an abandoned road in the American Midwest during one of the region’s worst snowstorms. With almost no provisions, the couple and their young child were seemingly doomed. Les takes readers through their story by pointing out what they could have done — and should have done — throughout their ordeal to better their situation.
Rather than wait for over four days for rescue, Les stresses that the couple should have taken action, fast, to actively seek out help. By waiting so long to go in search of assistance, the couple burnt out of their already measly food supply and risked not only their own deaths, but that of their young boy’s as well. In the end, they were ultimately rescued, but as Les explains, things could have gone much, much worse (and almost did). This story, like all of the stories in Will To Live, is a firm reminder of why we should all be aware of survival skills and be as prepared as possible to get through any ordeal that may unexpectedly cross our path this winter.
To wit, here’s a list of what Les recommends that everyone keep in their car over the next few months:
A car survival kit is a must in every vehicle, but it is even more important if you live in or travel through areas of remote wilderness or extreme weather, where the risk of ending up in a survival situation is much greater. It may seem like a bit of overkill, because nobody ever expects to be caught in an emergency. We all think that it can’t happen to us, but it can.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on an expensive kit to equip your car for a survival situation. Bring the following:
• a way to be spotted (flares, flashlight, lightsticks) and extra batteries
• a way to get warm (lighter and strike-anywhere matches in a waterproof case)
• a way to keep warm (blankets, extra clothes, sleeping bag, survival candles)
• belt knife with strong blade
• cell phone
• cook set, cook stove, and fuel
• cup (metal, collapsible, for boiling water)
• drinking water (enough for every person in the vehicle)
• food (including energy bars)
• jumper cables
• local road maps
• multi-tool or Swiss Army-style knife (with small saw blade)
• orange garbage bags (1-2, large, for signaling)
• painkillers (a few)
• parachute cord or similar rope (approximately 25 feet, ¼-inch thick)
• shovel (collapsible or folding)
• tire chains
• toilet paper
• tools, such as ax, hatchet, pliers, screwdriver, and/or wrench
• Ziploc bags
Excerpted from Will To Live: Dispatches From The Edge of Survival by Les Stroud © 2010 HarperCollins Canada Ltd