The stars of the Netflix survival-gear-testing reality show list a few essentials that could help you make it through an emergency on your next road trip.
If you’ve got a Labor Day weekend road trip coming up, now is as good a time as any to make sure you’ve got the right equipment and, better yet, a good plan to make it through potential emergencies that could befall your vehicle, you, and your family.
Many of them can be avoided by making sure your car and your travel plan are in order — checking your tires for wear and proper inflation, having your route planned in advance so you don’t get lost, not letting your gas tank fall below a quarter full, etc. But things can always happen regardless.
Daniel Dabbs (pictured above at left) and Brandon Currin (right), respectively the CEO and the marketing vice president/“resident redneck survivalist” of BattlBox and stars of the new Netflix series Southern Survival, offer some tips for building an emergency kit that could help you out of a jam should you find yourself stranded.
For those unfamiliar, BattlBox is a subscription box service. Rather than grooming gear, cigars, cheese, or wine, though, BattlBox boxes contain boutique camping and survival equipment such as hatchets, flashlights, tarps, firestarters, and coffee. Over the July 4 weekend, Netflix premiered Southern Survival, in which Dabbs, Currin, and other BattlBox employees including product specialist Mikki Montgomery and test specialist Steve Jordan test out products. Imagine MythBusters starring the Duck Dynasty family and you’re on the right track.
Following are items they recommend keeping in your vehicle.
- ResQme tool or other escape tools
- Emergency water for each passenger (or at very least, a way to purify water)
- Emergency rations (freeze-dried meal, energy bar, jerky, dried fruit, survival tabs, etc.)
- Wool blanket is ideal, or something else to keep warm in an emergency such as a sleeping bag
- Tow strap (kinetic tow rope)
- Fuel container
- Flat Out tire sealant
- Jumper cables or a rechargeable jump box
- Tool kit
- Something to defend yourself with so you aren’t a sitting duck should someone decide to take advantage of your situation
- Emergency cash stash
- LED road flare
- Emergency roadside assistance program
- Walking shoes
- Firestarter (lighter, hurricane matches, and/or flint; a pencil sharpener can be used to shave twigs into tinder)
- First aid kit (include antibiotic ointment, gauze, bandages, and gloves)
- Radio (especially in regions prone to extreme weather or natural disasters)
The ResQme tool is a product offered by BattleBox for $9.99 and featured on Episode 2 of Southern Survival. It’s a keychain-sized combination seatbelt cutter (which looks something like a heavy-duty envelope opener) and spring-loaded glass-breaker. In an email, Dabbs recommends attaching it to your sun visor, rear-view mirror, or keys. It’s designed to aid in escaping a vehicle.
“The spring-loaded glass punch is easy to use by anyone and makes quick work of breaching windows,” Currin adds. “Side note: Go for a door window. Avoid your front windshield, as it’s traditionally much stronger and therefore harder to break. It has a seatbelt cutter integrated to allow for easy cutting of seatbelts in the event they are locked up, plus a small clip that you can zip-tie to your visor or attach to your keyring for easy access when needed.”
As far as keeping cash in the vehicle, they recommend $60 or so hidden somewhere in the car or truck.
“This cash should be considered not available unless absolutely needed, such as if you are stuck on the side of the road for any reason — out of gas, flat tire, some sort of breakdown,” Currin writes. “Unless you are in a very remote place, odds are you can flag down someone for help. Consider the situation. Are you alone or do you have others with you? If so, who? Are they kids or seniors? In pretty much any situation, I would not recommend leaving your vehicle and going with a stranger. Especially if kids are with you. Some cash is usually all that's needed to have someone run to the nearest station to get you some gas. Or, hand over a little cash to use their phone to call someone who can come to your aid.”
Rather than get in a car with a Good Samaritan if you’ve run out of gas, Dabbs adds, give them $20 for gas plus a little extra for their trouble and your fuel container.
Dabbs and Currin recommend that you not leave your car unless absolutely necessary. Call for help if you have cell service, they say, or wait for a law enforcement officer to stop if they see your vehicle with its emergency flashers on.
“If, after several hours of being stranded, it appears help isn’t coming, leave a note on the INSIDE window or dash of the car with your name, phone number, the time you left to look for help, and what direction you traveled,” Dabbs writes. “It may be a good idea to indicate what happened to the vehicle (ran out of gas, flat tire, etc.). We recommend also leaving another copy of the same note hidden just inside the gas tank. If something should happen to you, you go missing and are unable to be located, hiding this note somewhere for authorities to easily find will give them a starting point on where to look for perpetrators. Keep in mind, once you leave the safety of your vehicle, you need to be confident that you are within walking distance of finding help. Otherwise, stay put. Place a piece of white fabric in the rear window or hanging out of the vehicle as a distress signal. If someone does stop to help you, stay in your vehicle, kindly explain to them what has occurred and ask them to call for help. If that is not an option, be very careful and only open the door if you think they can be trusted. Trust your instincts. If you get a funny feeling, go with your gut instinct and tell them, ‘No, thank you. I’ve already called someone and I expect them to be here in the next few minutes.’”
Should it come down to having to defend yourself, Currin says the first thing to keep in mind is “situational awareness.”
“Be aware of your surroundings, and if at all possible, always have an out,” he writes. “It’s best to remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible. Only use what you’re trained on or comfortable using. Pepper spray can be a useful tool. However, in a confined space that can be bad for everyone. As far as tools for a situation like this, I like the collapsible ASP or a stun gun. It is recommended to make as much noise as possible too.”
Sound the panic alarm on your car’s key fob or use a battery-powered alarm or other product, he adds.
“But you need to have a plan, know where the tools are at all times, and have them accessible,” he concludes. “Most importantly, know how to use them and remember, having some self-defense training is a plus.”
Photography: Courtesy BattlBox/Netflix's Southern Survival