Basic Off-Road Safety Prep

Before you hit the backwoods in your 4x4, conduct a thorough examination to make sure everything is in working order and trail ready. Ticking off the items on a pre-excursion check list will ensure that you cover all the major points and detect potential problems before they strand you in the middle of nowhere. If you have not done so in a while, you might consider obtaining a few car insurance quotes to compare with your current policy, just to make sure you are properly covered. Maintenance and prevention should include an inspection of:

• The body and frame looking for cracks and other structural damage.
• All belts and hoses with an eye for cracks, bulges, or similar imperfections.
• The complete braking system including drums, rotors, pads, hoses, fluid levels, and lights.
• The battery to verify that the terminals are clean and that the wiring is not corroded.
• The cooling and heating systems.
• The driveline/transmission.
• All fluid levels including transmission, brake, coolant, oil, and power steering.
• All lights including brakes, headlights, and auxiliary lights.
• Tires and suspension.
• Axles and differentials.

Once you are certain the vehicle itself is in proper working order, make sure that you have adequate supplies on hand to get you out of whatever predicament might come up. Be sure to include:

• air pump/compressor
• GPS unit and/or compass and maps
• cell phone and/or CB radio
• personal identification including emergency numbers and medical information
• rope and/or bungee cords
• light sources (both flashlights and candles)
• extra batteries, matches, and fire-starting materials
• climate and season appropriate clothing including work gloves
• basic tools for vehicle repair
• adequate food and water

And, of course, duct tape, the repair and improvisation tool of the modern world.

A particularly important item is a well-provisioned first aid kit. Camping and outdoors stores carry pre-assembled (and well-packed) kits, but make sure whatever your purchase includes such items as:

• adhesive bandages and tape
• gauze pads and rolls
• anti-biotic ointments and lotions like calamine
• hydrogen peroxide
• instant hot and cold packs
• anti-venom kits (both snake and insect)
• scissors and tweezers

Remember to include your own prescription medications including an extra supply just in case.

It's important to tailor your safety and survival supplies to the region in which you will be off-roading. For instance, you may think you won't need thermal survival blankets (sold in incredibly small packages) if you're off-roading in the desert, but find out what the night time temperatures may be in the area in case you get stranded and have to stay out overnight. If you're going to be near a river, you may have the issue of water covered; if not, water purification tablets may be in order. The best off-roading preparation smacks of over-packing and over-thinking, but in an emergency situation, you'll be glad you did both.