Cars are bug-out homes on wheels – if you know what you’re doing. There are far more ways to use your car other than escaping a dangerous situation, especially if you treat your vehicle as a survival kit on wheels.
Here are 11 ways to survive should you find yourself in a disaster situation with only your vehicle.
#11. Upholstery for Clothing and More
Depending on the weather conditions and how long you find yourself stranded with only your car, you can use the upholstery for something else. For example, use the car’s headliner as a thin blanket. Use the seat covers as bedding materials or makeshift clothing. Keeping a few safety pins or thread on hand can make altering the upholstery to fit your needs even easier.
#10. First Aid
In an ideal situation, you will have a first aid kit in your vehicle. My Patriot Supply has several first aid kit options as well as individual medical supplies you can keep in your vehicle. But even if you don’t have a first aid kit, you can use various parts of your car for first aid. For example, you can use a seat belt to create a tourniquet.
#9. Tow, Pull, or Push
Cars have the ability to tow, pull, or push much heavier items than humans can on their own. This means if you need to move downed trees in the road, you can use your vehicle.
And remember, if you need to pull something but don’t have cordage available, use your seatbelts.
[See also: When Disaster Strikes While in Your Car]
#8. Shelter and Protection
This is an obvious one, but when you need protection from the elements, your vehicle can save your life. In the heat of the summer, you need to stay cool. In the harsh winter, you need to stay warm.
The Guardian reports, “A Swedish man who spent two months snowed inside his car as temperatures outside dropped to -30C is ‘awake and able to communicate’, according to the hospital treating him, where stunned doctors believe he was kept alive by the ‘igloo effect’ of his vehicle.”
During the summer, you can put up some sort of window covers (possibly tearing the upholstery from the car’s headliner) and run the air conditioning to stay cool.
Your vehicle can also protect you from humans and animals – keeping them out and keeping you safe. You can also use your car defensively as a weapon, if necessary.
Your car’s radio will prove lifesaving, especially during natural disasters or wartime.
Tuning in will let you know what is happening outside of your vehicle. If you have a newer car, you may even have communication features like OnStar that connect you to help in emergencies.
Warning: If you don’t want to be found, avoid connecting to satellites or the Internet.
#6. Collect and Store Water
Like fire, water is essential for survival.
There are many parts of your car that can be used for collecting and storing water if you think creatively. For example, your vehicle has a wash fluid reservoir. Clean this out and use it to store clean water. You can also store extra containers for holding water inside your vehicle. Collapsible containers are especially convenient and space friendly.
#5. Build Fires
Fire is essential for survival. And you have the tools you need in your car to build one.
If you have an older car, you likely have a cigarette lighter. Newer cars don’t have this feature so it is helpful to keep some variety of lighter in your vehicle. However, all cars have gasoline, which can be used as a fire starter. They also have tires and seat stuffing or filler that can be used as kindling.
#4. Signal for Help
If you find yourself stranded and in need of help, you can make use of many of your car’s parts and features to signal for rescue.
- Horn: Your car comes with a built-in alarm system. Honk like crazy to help rescue teams find you.
- Lights: If noise isn’t working, use your headlights to send a signal (see the link to an article about Morse Code below).
- Mirrors: Use the sun’s reflection on mirrors to signal for help. Keep in mind that in addition to taking out your car’s mirrors, you can also use the reflective sides of headlights or CDs to reflect the sun. Hang mirrors in the trees or put them on top of your vehicle’s roof.
- Hubcaps: Some hubcaps have reflective surfaces that can be used like mirrors for signaling for help.
Your signals for help will be more effective if you follow the SOS pattern from Morse Code.
#3. Emergency Power
If you have a DC-to-AC power inverter, you can use your car’s battery for power.
If you need 150 watts or less, you just need to plug the power inverter into the 12-volt accessory socket in your vehicle.
If you need more than 150 watts, you can connect these electronics directly to the car battery.
For smaller items that use lower wattage, you’ll need to start your car every so often to keep the battery topped off. You’ll need to run the car while powering larger, high-wattage devices. If your car battery stops working, keeping a power bank in the car like the Wireless Solar PowerBank Charger & 28 LED Room Light will help with charging smaller items, plus it doubles as a light.
#2. Light Source
Headlights, parking lights, brake lights, and interior lights—all of these are extremely useful (and potentially lifesaving) if you have no power in your home or you find yourself stranded. A handheld light is also extremely useful.
#1. Store Survival Gear
The most effective way for your car to become a survival tool is to use it as storage for survival gear.
For instance, if you live in the North, you likely have a vehicle emergency kit in your car for winter weather. However, this is something that every vehicle owner should have – not just those who live in colder climates.
If you store emergency essentials in your vehicle, you will be able to access them in your time of need.
Here are some must-have survival items to keep in your car:
- Good shoes
- Jumper cables
- A small foldable shovel
- Car window breaker
- Road atlas
- No-spill gas can
- First aid kit
- Battery-operated radio
- Solar-powered cell phone charger
- Bottled water or water filtration tool
- Nonperishable emergency food
- Waterproof poncho
- Change of clothes
- Duct tape
You can also use your car as safe storage during an emergency. There are places within your vehicle (i.e., the trunk, glove compartment, or under the seats) where you can conceal and hide items you don’t want others to know you have.
We’ll leave you with this bit of advice from American Outdoor: “You have no reason to be kind to your vehicle during a life-and-death ordeal. Gut it, strip it, salvage it, and use it to keep you alive!”
Practice these tips, friends, and survive wherever your car takes you.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply