Chad Bennion, 52, former Utah state legislator and former Salt Lake County Republican Party Chairman, went missing several weeks ago here in southern Utah. Bennion was heading on a night run near a family member’s home in St. George when he went missing. He was found alive and safe two days later.
One reason he was able to survive for two nights in the desert was his preparedness. St. George police reported that Bennion got lost and then his SUV became stuck. He did the right thing: he was prepared and stayed with his vehicle until a hunter helped him free his SUV and pointed him in the right direction.
So how important is it to have preparedness items in your vehicle, not only in winter weather conditions but when traveling all year long?
John Higley, Iron County Emergency Coordinator, said, “We’ve learned from many sad incidents that when stranded in an automobile, people should stay put and not attempt to walk to help. With that in mind, having a few survival items in the trunk is always a good idea.” Higley then listed items that are good to have on hand in your vehicle:
Water - enough for each person for at least 24 hours
Blankets - space - or reflective - blankets are nice but not too comfortable. Consider a space blanket and a wool blanket.
Shovel - get one of the small ones used by backpackers. They’re sturdy and inexpensive.
Flashlight and extra batteries. Don’t assume the flashlight works…try it before you go.
Road salt. Higley prefers a large bag of kitty litter. It can be used for other emergency activities and is not as corrosive as road salt.
First Aid Kit
Chain or rope - who knows…maybe you’ll be the one doing the rescuing.
Extra clothes - rescuing a stranded motorist is cold, wet and dirty work. You’ll want to be dry and clean in your car.
“Be sure to let people know when you are traveling, your route and your expected arrival time,” Higley said. “If you’re not traveling to see family or don’t have family to call, let a trusted neighbor know and for heaven’s sake call them when you arrive at your destination.”
Some other helpful items might include matches or a lighter and pocket knife. Make sure your gas tank is at least half full.
You may also want to consider avoiding overexertion, shoveling snow or trying to push your car out can be risk or result in a heart attack or injury. Make sure you have fresh air. It’s better to be cold and awake than comfortably warm and sleepy. Snow can plug your vehicle’s exhaust system and cause deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
Remember, it’s not only you at risk by not being prepared; it also puts rescue personnel at risk as well.