Don’t be a hero: Tips for surviving the road

December 7, 2006 — 13 Comments

The bad news across the blogosphere today is that James Kim, the CNet journalist missing this last week, has been found dead. I didn’t know the guy, but like many I’ve been following the story this last week, and the news is sad. Obviously not all the details have been released as yet, but what we do know is that Kim’s car appears to have either broken down or become stuck, and Kim left his family to find help. He’s death however, was totally preventable. Broken down cars and people leaving them to seek help is a fairly regular occurrence here in Australia, and 9 times out of 10 it’s tourists who are in this sort of situation. Here’s some tips for others in case you are ever caught in a similar situation.

1. Never, ever leave your vehicle
You never hear stories of people dying who have stayed with their vehicle, but you regularly here stories of people dying who did leave their car seeking help. If rescuers are looking for you, there a lot more likely to see your car than you. By leaving your car you also leave yourself exposed to the elements. No matter how desperate your situation, unless you know for sure that there was a house 2 miles back or similar, always stay with your car.

2. Buy an EPIRB
Basic model EPIRB’s cost a couple of hundred dollars. They are compulsory in Australia for boats going a certain distance offshore. They should be compulsory for people driving off the beaten track into wilderness areas or similar. If you’re stranded in the middle of no where, EPIRB’s are a sure way for rescuers to find you.

3. Take extra fuel
This is probably more an Australian thing, but if you’re traveling long distances sometimes roadhouses (gas stations) can be few and far between. That extra 10, 20 of 40 litres of fuel in your boot can get you to the next roadhouse.

4. Take water
You can never have enough water. If you get stranded, you’ll need it to survive

5. Get your car serviced prior to leaving
Probably a given, but plenty of people don’t do it. If you do break down, even if you can get help, you can often end up with an enormous towing and repair bill. A couple of hundred for a service is small change in comparison.

6. Let people know where you are going
Telling people your heading to a city but failing to mention you’re taking the scenic route doesn’t cut it. If James Kim had been more specific in letting people know where he was going, via with roads etc, be it a loved one or someone else, he may well have been alive today because there was a delay between when he broke down and when the search effort started. I’m not sure about the US, but certainly in Australia there are services where you can register your movements when your traveling over a long distance. Check with your local State Automobile Association for more details.