Real Life Survival: Could You Stay Alive in the Frigid Wilderness with Only the Supplies in Your Vehicle?
How prepared are you to survive a few days in the frozen wilderness with only the supplies you have in your vehicle?
A family of 6 discovered that they have what it takes when their Jeep flipped over in the middle of the Seven Troughs mountain range in north-central Nevada last week.
Miraculously, the two adults and four children managed to escape the ordeal relatively unscathed, without even suffering frostbite. The family members included James Glanton, 34, Christina McIntee, 25, Shelby Schlag-Fitzpatrick, 10, Tate McIntee, 4, Evan Glanton, 5, and Chloe Glanton, 3.
James Glanton, a mine worker and hunter, showed true resourcefulness, and as one rescuer stated, “did one heck of job keeping those kids safe.” He immediately took charge of the situation and used his survival mentality to prevent his family from becoming victims. He adapted to the situation at hand by using what was available, and because of his decisive actions, succeeded in surviving in an event during which many would have perished.
All of the rescue workers were volunteers, who searched relentlessly for days for the family, with no state emergency funds forthcoming. Some volunteers covered more than 700 miles looking for the missing family.
This real-life story is a perfect example of how disaster can strike when you least expect it. As preppers and survivalists, what can we learn from James Glanton? There were several items that I felt it necessary to add to my own vehicle kit after reading this story.
Identify your priorities
During any winter survival scenario, your priorities are:
- Shelter (including a means of staying warm)
Glanton said that immediately after the accident occurred, his first concern was to keep the family from freezing to death in the negative temperatures. He told reporters that he “knew that they had to stay warm, and the first thing he did was build a fire and he was able to keep that fire going the entire time while they were out.”
Glanton then put large stones into the fire and heated them up. He brought them into the vehicle and allowed the radiant heat to keep the family warm. (You can learn more about this technique HERE.)
Fortunately they had a supply of food and water in the vehicle because they had intended on spending a full day playing in the snow.
Decide whether to go for help or stay put and wait for rescue
Rescuers agreed that in this particular situation, the family’s survival hinged upon their decision to hunker down in the vehicle instead of setting off on foot to search for help. With small children in tow, a storm brewing, and the remoteness of their location, a trek would have very likely been ill-fated. They were 25 miles from the nearest town, so walking for help was really out of the question.
They were fortunate on several counts:
- People knew where they were going and when they were expected home. When they did not arrive home as planned, search and rescue was alerted that they were missing.
- Rescuers were able to triangulate an approximate location from cellphone signals, even though the family was out of range at the accident site. This helped to narrow down the search area.
The take-away from this? Always make sure someone knows where to look for you. Also, invest in some signalling devices to help searchers locate you. (This is something that Glanton did not have.) Consider adding flares to your survival kit, or make something large out of found objects to place on top of the snow to catch the attention of planes searching the area.
The family was located when a sharp-eyed searcher saw their Jeep upside down in the snow.
The right supplies are vital
Without the supplies that the family had on hand, their chances of survival would have diminished greatly.
- Glanton had a magnesium fire-starter and hacksaw in the vehicle – this allowed him to make a fire with the damp wood they found in the area.
- They had food and water, which they carefully rationed.
- The family was clothed for a day playing outside in freezing temperatures, so they had the right clothing for the environment.
The ingenuity of how they survived
Making the best of a terrifying situation, James Glanton used resourcefulness and ingenuity to keep his family safe and warm. Because the accident took place in a canyon housing an old mining site and they were able to use some items from the site to help them survive.
The artifacts left behind Wednesday — a burned tire, rocks and snow-packed footprints — told the great Nevada survival story.
The small canyon houses ghosts of an old mining camp with bedspring wiring, a rusty stove, pipes and what appeared to be steel roofing. A bent piece of steel was used to reflect heat for the fire where the vehicle flipped, said Charles Sparke, Pershing County emergency management director.
Officials say the family was prepared for a day in the snow. Glanton even brought a magnesium fire starter, which can turn wet twigs into ready-to-light kindling, Sparke said Wednesday.
He also had a hacksaw, which he used to cut kindling, and a spare tire to burn.
The Jeep was removed from the scene Wednesday. Inside the vehicle remained an old lighter and burned doors. Officials said Glanton burned rocks and put them inside the Jeep to keep the family warm. (source)
Are you ready?
If such an accident occurred, how would you and your family survive? Do you have all of the necessary supplies to hunker down for a few days in frigid temperatures?
Here are the minimum supplies you should have in your vehicle at all times:
Fully loaded backpacks with the basics of survival should always be handy in the even that you do have to hike away from the scene of an accident. Additionally, have cash in small denominations for other types of emergencies.
Food and Water
You should always have some non-perishable foods in the vehicle, and water filtration equipment as well as water, in the event that your emergency lasts for an extended period of time.
- Peanut butter
- Canned stew or chili
- Canned baked beans
- Canned fruit
- Granola Bars
- A few gallons of water
- A portable filtration device like the Sawyer Mini or Berkey-to-go
Vehicle Emergency Kit
This should always remain in the vehicle:
- Backpacks -if space is an issue, these fold down very small but expand to hold a lot
- Escape tool
- Sleeping bag specific to your climate
- Small tent selected for your climate
- Lightweight emergency tent
- Lighter, magnesium fire starter, waterproof matches
- Lighter fluid (this can help start a fire even in damp conditions)
- Candles – long-burning tea lights don’t require holders and still hold their form if they melted in the summer heat
- Survival knife
- Pocket survival handbook
- Signal flares
- Space blankets – don’t go cheapo on this. The better quality could save your life.
- Up-to-date road atlas
- Police flashlight/taser combo
- Extra batteries
- Mirrors for signalling
- Signal whistles for making noise to help rescuers find you
- A few gallons of water
- Berkey-to-go for each family member (or other portable filtration device – I also like the Sawyer Mini)
- Collapsible pet dish
- Pet food
- Weapons and ammo of choice
First Aid Supplies
You should always have a well-stocked first aid kit. Be sure to include the following:
- Pain relief pills
- Antibiotic cream
- Allergy medication (Benadryl) and an Epi-pen (My daughter has a food allergy)
- Motion sickness medication
- Alcohol wipes
- Anti-diarrheal medication
- Rubbing alcohol
- Hydrogen peroxide
Extra clothing and footwear
Always keep spare clothing and footwear in the vehicle. Particularly in cold temperatures, dampness is the enemy. If your clothing or socks get wet, this greatly increases the risk of succumbing to exposure.
- Snow pants
- Long underwear
- Sturdy, comfortable walking boots
Make sure you have basic tools on hand.
- Basic automotive repair tools
- Heavy-duty booster cables
- Tow straps
- Staple gun
- Assorted screwdrivers
- Bungee cords
- Duct tape
- Lubricant like WD-40
What do you keep in your kit?
If you were in the same situation as the family who survived in the Nevada wilderness, how would you fare? What items do you keep in your vehicle that would help you to survive?