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How to Survive a Car Breakdown in the Desert

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Vehicle breakdowns are no joke — especially if they happen in the extreme environment of the desert. With a little preparation and some practical strategies, you’ll be equipped to survive getting stranded in a desolate area.

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Be prepared for a desert breakdown

  • Make sure to pack items you might need in the event that you get stranded while driving through the desert. Bottled watter, nonperishable snacks, blankets, a flashlight, sturdy walking boots, and extra clothes are a great place to start. The following items are also wise to bring along: antifreeze, matches, road flares, spare tire with a jack, smartphone charger, first aid kit, and a GPS device.
  • You might also want to pack hard copies of whatever maps you’ll need to navigate your route. These will come in handy if you’re traveling through areas that lack cell reception.
  • Always call a friend or family member before driving through the desert and give them your ETA. That way, they can call emergency services if you don’t show up at your destination at or near the time you gave them.
  • Top off all fluids in your vehicle and make sure the gas tank is full. If your vehicle is  in need of an oil and filter change, do so before you embark on your desert trip.

Photo: Pixabay

What to do during a desert breakdown

  • In the unfortunate event of a desert breakdown, keep calm. Pull your car as far over to the shoulder of the road as possible and turn on the hazard lights. Prop open the hood and close a piece of cloth in the door, so any approaching drivers will know that you’re stranded and need assistance.
  • Set up road flares, if you have them. It’s best to place the first one 100 feet behind your vehicle, and the other one a bit closer to the bumper, at 50 feet away.
  • If your smartphone is working, call for a friend or relative for help. Inform them of your exact location so they know what to tell emergency services. Next, call a tow truck if you can’t get your vehicle to start at all. If you can’t reach an acquaintance or towing service, call 911 to send a trooper to your location.
  • Stay hydrated. If it’s daytime and the heat is strong, sit next to your car in the shade or sit inside your car with the windows down. If it’s nighttime and the air is cold, put on the extra clothes and wrap yourself in the blankets that you packed.

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