OB19: Plan For Emergencies

Every year people all over the world experience disasters in some form. Floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, this list goes on and on. It’s a good idea to plan for emergencies to happen, so you’re prepared for the fallout afterward. While you may not experience natural disasters on the trail, it’s a good idea to be prepared for what may happen. In this case, vehicle breakdowns and getting stuck in the middle of nowhere are probably the most common occurrences.

What Does Preparedness Mean

Preparedness can be defined as “a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and taking corrective action to ensure effective coordination during incident response.” That is a pretty broad definition that includes functions many of us as overlanders become familiar with as time goes on. The process seamlessly transitions to what we do in getting ready for a trip or expedition.

  1. Plan –write down what you might have happen and plan for the worst case.
  2. Organize – gather the gear you need and organize it accordingly.
  3. Train – learn the skills you will need to survive.
  4. Equip – gather the equipment you think you will need to get by.
  5. Exercise – put yourself through a test scenario.
  6. Evaluate – document what worked, what didn’t, what you used, what you didn’t; did your plan work the way it was supposed to?
  7. Correct – correct the issues you had and start over with the process.

This is a continual process and should be exercised several times throughout the year. Work in some skill usage if you are going to be out on the trail. Put yourself through a test scenario at camp where you only rely on what is in your survival kit. Work through the process and make corrections once you’ve made it back to your home base.

The Three Tiered System

One way to look at being prepared is to break down the idea of emergency preparedness into three sub-tiers. Using a three-tier system ensures you have enough gear to survive at any of the levels. We are going to look at this from the perspective of usage in overlanding. However, it can be applied to any emergency preparedness scenario.

Each tier builds on the last and ensures you have multiples of certain items. Having multiple redundancies is important in situations where your life may depend on it. This eliminates the chances of not having the right tools if something gets broken or is lost along the way.

First Tier

The first tier is what you carry on you. Most people might know this is an everyday carry or EDC for short. These are basic items you carry on you that meet the minimum to survive. There are many different directions this can be taken in. The idea is not to load yourself down with tons of belt hang-on. Things should be kept small and to a minimum.

Second Tier

Second tier gear is stored in a small bag of some sort. It’s gear that is too bulky to be carried in your pockets or on a belt. All of the items offer extended survival capabilities but are still not overly bulky.

Third Tier

The last tier is gear that would offer the option of having to leave your location and would be combined with first and second tier gear to create a survival bag. This bag would allow you to walk away from your location, if necessary, and survive for up to three days.

Building a Survival Kit

Hopefully, it never happens but being prepared for unforeseen events is important. Most of the gear you carry can sustain you through an extended period of being stranded. However, in some cases, you may not be able to access the gear you are carrying. This is where having a survival kit comes in to play. There are many different names for it, but the purpose is to sustain you through an event for a couple of days.

Your survival kit should cover down on the basics items you need to survive. Start with a timeframe and build on what your plan is for survival. One to three days is a good baseline to work from. Depending on how many people you are traveling within your rig will determine how much of certain things you should have in your survival kit. More people means having more food and water available.

The list we put together and included is for a single person. It is meant to sustain them for up to 72 hours, includes enough food and water to do so, and works under the assumption that other gear is not accessible.

Staying With Your Vehicle

When a breakdown occurs, the first thought might be to leave and find help. However, this is the leading cause of death in a breakdown. People who break down in certain situations are not equipped to handle the elements, don’t know how to navigate well enough, or cannot sustain themselves.

The best thing to do in an emergency is to stay with your vehicle. You are more likely to be found within a few days if you stay put. You have all the necessary equipment to sustain yourself for a few days. If you’ve planned correctly, you should have extra food, water, and gear needed to manage a few extra days.


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