Surviving Out Of Your Vehicle in Hot Weather

Surviving out of your vehicle

Some people do live out of their vehicles for various reasons, but there is a difference when it comes to living out of one as part of daily survival, and surviving out of one for short periods due to an emergency.

This article will talk about emergencies that come up while away from home or from civilization in hot weather, where it is just you and your vehicle. There may come a time when you are traveling and cannot make it back home for whatever reason, and you have to turn your vehicle into a survival shelter. Can you do it?

Most people would not decide to go and sleep in their car parked in their driveway. Well some might, because they may not have been able to stumble to the front door, but that subject is for another day. In other words, a considerable number of drivers out there do not have any practical experience when it comes to sleeping/surviving in their cars. Knowledge comes from reading and research, experience comes from having been there.

This does not mean however, that every time you leave for work, or to go on a trip that you transfer all of your belonging from the house into the car. You have your home and you have your vehicle, two individual spaces, and thus, two separate potential survival situations that each requires specific survival supplies.

First, if you are traveling a new route to work or going out of town on a trip, for example, leave a copy of your route with someone back home, or let a family member or friend know that you are taking an alternate route to work.

You will gain a tremendous psychological boost if you believe someone is out looking for you and having the right mindset can mean the difference between surviving and not. Cell phones can be tracked, but if it has a dead battery or you cannot get a signal then this is not a reliable way of finding you anytime soon.

Some of you are already thinking that there is no way you are spending a night in your car if it breaks down alongside the highway. In most cases, you would not alongside the highway, but then again, in the winter you might have too, but that’s a story for another day.

No, we are talking about situations like, your friend tells you about some hiking trail they heard about from a friend of a friend, or about some pristine lake perfect for camping that no one knows about. The only way there however, is by some logging road or fire access road that no one uses. It is only a mile off the highway, but so very private your friend tells you. So private in fact, no one has ever been there, but it’s there, trust me they say.

You find the so-called private access road and after five miles of teeth rattling ruts your car bottoms out or a wheel drops off the shoulder into a ditch and you are stranded. No trail or lake in sight, just a wall of brush on both sides of the car and the mosquitoes are already tapping on the glass, big ones, and when did mosquitoes get teeth. Oh by the way no cell reception, life is never that easy.

Taking shortcuts you heard about from someone or simply guessing which way to go leaves people stranded, and on top of that your vehicle breaks down. Anything can happen to anyone at anytime. If you set out to go hiking or camping then you would have some gear in your car, but what if you had no plans to hike or camp, do you still have supplies in your car.

What’s In the Trunk Junk or Supplies?

The heat is suffocating so sitting in the car is out of the question, but the sun is hot and the brush while it allows for some shade is not adequate when it’s in the high 90’s. The best shade is several hundred yards away under some heavy pine and oak trees.

So What Do You Need

  • Water for hydration and calculate a gallon plus per day to stay properly hydrated, you could require in excess of a gallon a day of fluids to prevent dehydration in hot weather
  • Water purification methods such as tablets and/or metal containers suited for boiling
  • Coffee filters, cheesecloth and/or activated charcoal for water filtration
  • Personal water filtration device/straw
  • Map and compass in the event you have to hike out
  • Tarp, poncho or emergency blanket for sun screening outside of the vehicle, sitting in a car in the hot sun can be deadly even with the windows open
  • Insect repellent and/or netting, mosquitoes are everywhere in the world except for the Antarctica and Iceland possibly or a few other areas you have never heard of, so expect them in the summer along with black flies and other flying pests and you might consider repellent for gear and clothing, as well, such as Permethrin 
  • Cutting tool, brush can be cut/chopped to use along with tarps and ponchos to provide shade A fixed bladed knife, machete and/or small camp ax is ideal along with a multi-tool
  • Duct tape, and there are a 1,001uses for it in any situation
  • Cordage to secure your tarp and if the situation provides you can secure the tarp to your vehicle to provide a shaded area immediately outside of the vehicle
  • Fire starting materials, you would need a fire during the day for signaling, smoke can be seen for miles in the daylight and for warmth and protection from insects, predators, and for cooking/water purification and for comfort at night
  • Signaling material and keep in mind your car is a large object so place signaling material on it such as colored flags, bright cloth/clothing that can be seen from the air
  • Road flares but if stranded off road you have to be aware of the fire dangers involved
  • Walking shoes and make sure they are suited for rough terrain

Too many people start out driving with sandals or even barefoot in some cases, in the summer and then get stranded without any type of footwear suited for walking in the woods or over rough ground or on hot roadways. Footwear should protect your feet from hot surfaces, debris on the ground, snakes, and insects.

  • Flashlight (s) and be careful about only having lights that operate off the vehicles’ battery, because the battery could be discharged due to mechanical problems
  • Battery box to jump start your battery and to charge electronic devices
  • Ground cloth/pad
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Rain gear such as a poncho
  • Backpack, don’t just toss your gear in the back seat or the trunk without having some way of carrying it if you have to hike out of your predicament
  • Toilet paper along with other personal hygiene items like a tooth brush, hand soap and hand sanitizer
  • Change of clothes, people usually dress with their destination in mind and not for survival so pack clothes that are suited for the woods and for walking
  • Small shovel for digging fire pits and burying human and food waste, you want to keep predators and insect away so bury your garbage
  • Food for 48 hours and MRE’s are well suited, because they do not require water or heating, but if stored in a hot vehicle as a matter of routine they do need to be rotated out often, because heat will dramatically reduce the shelf life
  • Snacks such as dried meats, unsalted or lightly salted nuts and dried fruits, avoid chips and other salty or sugary food snacks
  • Books, puzzles and so on to keep your mind occupied, note pads, pencils and pens
  • First aid kit with 48 hours worth of any maintenance medication that is required, include sunglasses, spare eyeglasses/contacts, lip balm, sunscreen, bandanas and hat that provides shade to the head neck and face
  • Glow sticks
  • Self defense items such as a firearm, walking stick, stun baton, stun gun and pepper spray

The list could go on but it is small trunk, so you do have to consider each item carefully and some of what you would pack would be based on geography of the area you will be traveling in and based on your own experiences and level of training. Your objective is to survive for a few hours up to a few days and beyond.