By Dale Pocat (D-Poc)
As I’m sure you know, emergencies come in all sizes. There are big ones that governments try to take care of, not always successfully I might add, small ones that may only impact you or your family, and emergencies that cover everything in between. A prepper tries to be ready for anything but it’s the little things that can trip you up.
Today I want to talk about minor emergencies. These are more immediate and much more personal and in extreme cases can become deadly. I’ll give you a couple of examples. You’re driving out in the country it’s 110 degrees in the shade and your car dies. Or, the opposite of that which would be driving in your car in a snowstorm and driving off the road into a snowbank. In the first example you could die of heat stroke and dehydration and in the second example you could freeze to death from exposure. I know these are extreme examples but it does happen and the sad thing is that both can be prevented.
When I was younger and didn’t even know what prepping was, I was working in Minneapolis in the wintertime when my grandmother died. I called and talked to my dad who said that he wanted me to come home to Dallas and go to the funeral with him in Texarkana. I couldn’t afford an airline ticket and gas was still relatively cheap back then so I immediately walked out of work and got into my company provided rental car and headed south in a snowstorm.
Now, lets stop there and figure out where I went wrong.
1. I didn’t check the weather before I left, I didn’t know that a massive storm was just starting to hit as I was leaving that was going to wipe out power in several states.
2. The only “survival” gear I had was a cell phone and a duffel bag of clothes. I had no food or water with me and being from the south I didn’t even have a heavy coat.
3. I did check my gas gauge and had about three quarters of a tank but I didn’t fill up thinking I would just get gas on the road.
I was in trouble and I hadn’t even left yet! I’ll finish this story in a little bit for you and I won’t leave you hanging but you can see how one family emergency and me wanting to be with family could lead to another catastrophic emergency by me not being prepared in any way.
I’ve sort of focused on being in a car because most Americans own cars and spend quite a bit of time in them going from place to place. That may not be true in some other parts of the world but the basics are the same.
If you do own a car you should have the basic tools needed to get you out of any trouble stored in your trunk. Such as, jumper cables, assorted hose clamps, a jug of water, flashlight and light sticks, duct tape, and maybe a small air compressor. You may want to throw a small folding shovel in there as well. It’s great for getting out of the snow.
“Well”, you say, “I would just call the auto club and have them come help me.” Absolutely you should, but there are still places that don’t have cell phone coverage and even when you do call them it can take them awhile to get to you.
I read a story about a guy who broke down on a country road that got almost no traffic and he called the auto club. It still took them 3 hours to get someone to him and it was 105 degrees outside. However, he was prepared. He had a small survival bag in his car with him. He had water and beef jerky in it as well as a hat and a bandanna that he could soak in the water to keep him cool. He sat under a tree and waited patiently for the tow truck.
Now I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a much better way to sit out a small emergency than standing around looking at my watch every 2 minutes wondering when and if they are going to show up thinking how hot it is and man I sure would like a big glass of water! It doesn’t take much to be prepared, but it also doesn’t take much to be a victim.
If you don’t own a car you should still be prepared. You could easily shove some water and food into a backpack before you head to the bus stop or train station. Subconciously society has reached the point where we depend on others to provide for us. I didn’t used to carry food or water with me, most everywhere we go there are fast food restaurants and places to just whip in and get something to drink.
Ok, so there I am, a couple hours later driving through blinding snow with a death grip on the steering wheel and focusing on trying to stay in the tracks of the 18 wheeler in front of me when I look down at the gas gauge and realize… I’m out of gas!!
I take the next exit that showed there might be a town and plowed through the snow up the ramp. I made a left turn and saw a sign that there was indeed a town, however, it was so small there was no gas station. Did I mention it was 10:00 at night? I found a very nice person trying to get his car in his garage and he gave me two gallons of gas and directions to two gas stations further down the highway. I couldn’t even pay him for it because I had no cash!
The first station was closed but I made it to the next station and got gas. Now, I was young and pretty dense at the time so I’m going to use that as my excuse not to get bottles of water, food, and cash at the station. I did get a soft drink and a bag of chips though, smart thinking huh?
Back on the road, I drove all the way into Oklahoma. By the time I started looking for gas again everything was closed because the entire northern part of the state had no power. The ice storm was so bad that the power lines were hanging almost to the ground due to the weight of the ice. The grass looked like crystal formations because every blade had a half inch coating of ice on it and the tops of trees were snapped off for miles.
Just as I was about to run out of gas again I got out of the ice and was able to pull over at the first working gas station. I waited 45 minutes to get gas there because of the lines.
I made it to the funeral in time, and as I look back on this story I’ve written I realize that someone or something had to have helped me through all of that because there were just WAY too many things that could have gone wrong.
I like to think I’ve gotten wiser as I’ve gotten older. I have things like a bug out bag, a get home bag that goes with me everywhere, and necessary tools and things needed to get me out of a jam in case I break down. I’ve had small emergencies that I’ve had to deal with since then and now I’m much more prepared to deal with them.
The next time you head out in your car or run to catch that train think about where you’re going and what would happen if the car broke down at the worst possible spot on your journey, or the train broke down in a tunnel. Wouldn’t you much rather sit out that small emergency in comfort? I know I would.