The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Vehicle Emergency Pack

We have had emergency packs in our vehicles for quite some time and it is time to take inventory and update a few things. I have felt the need to get very serious about being prepared away from home.

We learned a lot in Alaska about the need for emergency, survival equipment. The remote villages we lived in required travel by plane, sometimes in a small 207 that would seat six people. During the winter you were not allowed on the plane without adequate gear for warmth - just in case the plane went down. These experiences brought survival gear into the realm of everyday provisions that we wouldn't think of being without.

My emergency pack is a basic backpack. If I ever need to walk, I want to be able to carry my supplies with me as comfortably as possible. That means on my back, not over my shoulder or in my hand.

The current inventory contains:  
Ziplock bag of old peanuts that need to be replaced
Good pair of tennis shoes (this will give me 2 pairs of shoes with the ones I will be wearing)
2 emergency ponchos
Small package of rope
2 emergency blankets with green on one side and silver on the other
Basic first aid kit that includes: Bandaids, gauze, triple antibiotic ointment, hydrocortizone
Roll of toilet paper in ziplock bag
Partial roll of paper towels
3 carabiners

Inside the car are items that would be added to the backpack if I ever needed to leave it and walk somewhere. These items include: 
Small maglight
Flashing hazard warning light (the kind you would put out on the road to warn on coming traffic)
Jacket with hood (this is my car jacket, it's in there year round)
Light rain coat with light insulation and hood

I always carry a variety of items in my purse that would be useful in an emergency situation.
Gerber multi purpose tool
Small maglight
Very small first aid kit
Cough drops
Extra charged cell phone battery

I work about 30 miles from home. In the remote possibility that something happens and I could not drive home, or at least part of the way home, we have several contingency plans that we hope would result in my safe arrival. We have studied maps, driven the possible routes and made ourselves as familiar with the terrain as much as possible.

With winter coming on, I have felt the need this year to upgrade the supplies in my pack. I am adding the following supplies:
New bag of mixed nuts
2 freeze dried meals to add water, let soak and eat
Empty peanut butter jar to soak food or filter dirty water before sterilizing
Bandanna and old towels for stage one water filtering and whatever need arises

Steripen for sterilizing water    2 bottles of water (chlorinated from the tap)
Emergency whistle with compass 
Pair of pants
Long-sleeved and short-sleeved t-shirts
2 pairs of socks
All purpose hat

As I went over the contents of my backpack, I realized that since Frank had installed the Alinco VHF/UHF mobile radio in my
vehicle, I no longer had a radio that I could disconnect from the car and take with me if I had to walk. I felt that this was a big oversight on my part. Initially we were using the Wouxun handheld VHF/UHF radios in the vehicles with a battery eliminator. That would allow us to remove the radio, insert a battery pack and antenna that were kept in the vehicle, and we would be good to go. I really like the Alinco for a mobile radio. We are able to communicate clearly for a much farther distance when I go to work. Now I will be adding a handheld radio to my pack for emergency communications if I am on foot.

Communications equipment in my pack will include:
A handheld radio
Extra battery
A short stubby antenna
A 9 inch antenna 
If I am walking with a radio clipped to my belt, the stubby is better; I would be less apt to bend and/or break the antenna. If I am stationary or trying to receive a signal and the stubby is inadequate, I can change to the longer antenna.

Mental preparation is key to survival. We have been preparing for a long time, but that doesn't mean we think of everything. Like the new radio in the vehicle. It has been there for several months, but it did not occur to me that it would leave me without radio contact if I were on foot. I am grateful that I have been getting this nudge to upgrade my pack, otherwise I don't know how long it would have been before I realized I needed a handheld radio. It may have been too late. This is one instance I am glad to discover the inadequacy now. There are sometimes that failure is not an option. 

Frank has known for a long time that communications will be a key component in a survival situation. There are some basic, simple steps that can be taken to increase your ability to communicate with your loved ones, as well as listen to what is happening in your area should a disaster or collapse occur. Anyone can broadcast on any
frequency, including ham radio frequencies, in an emergency if there are no other means of communication available. The ability to prepare for and survive some of the situations coming our way may hinge on our ability to hear what is coming. If you have a group of people in your area that can communicate via radio in a grid down, collapse situation, it may save your life. You may be able to know if there is danger heading your way. You may be able to warn someone else if danger is heading their way. It is another layer of preparation that may make all the difference in the world. Radio communications will also bring at least some information, whether it is local, national, or worldwide, in a time when all information is cut off. Not knowing anything about what is happening when we are used to massive amounts of information at the click of a button will be a huge change for all of us, and a difficult one, at best.

I challenge you to give some serious thought to your situation and prepare for a way to get home on foot. The day may never arrive when you need it, and I pray that is the case. But, Frank has a good saying that he has picked up along the way. "I would rather be a prepared fool than an unprepared fool." It may mean all the difference in the world to those you love.

Until next time - Fern


  1. Great Blog and such sensible and solid information. Until I met Ralph I lived in a rural area with low population and in full view of the Rocky Mountains. I needed a 4x4 to get out of my place in the worst of winter. A cold weather emergency kit was standard in my truck. Plus tire chains and a tow rope as well as jumper cables and diesel treatment and gas line antifreeze. I worked off farm at a local truck stop 25 miles away and hated that drive in winter. I was always amazed at how ill prepared drivers were. Often not even wearing winter footwear.

    A question about the socks you have in your kit. Are they wool or a new synthetic blend? I used to knit my own with wool that was less had more lanolin in it and seemed to hold warmth when damp well.

    Keep warm and enjoy your wonderful larder.


    1. Wheres your gloves ? And hat ?

    2. Hi Jean,

      Good question! I have gloves in the vehicle, but overlooked putting some in the pack - until this afternoon when I asked myself the same question. I didn't get a picture of the hat, but it is in the pack. Thanks for the reminders. We all need them from time to time.


    3. Hi Fiona,

      About the socks, they are cotton with some polyester. I can't wear wool, it makes me itch. When we were in Alaska we tried a bunch of different socks, but we always went back to cotton. Sometimes up there we would wear a wool or synthetic over a pair of cotton socks, and that would work well. Here it doesn't get very cold for very long, so cotton works great.

      Thanks for asking.