In 2002 Roger Sargeant and his family went into the Arizona desert for a leisurely afternoon of target practice and picnicking.
After their leisurely day enjoying the beauty of the desert they loaded up in the truck and headed home.
As the sunset dipped past the horizon, and the terrain darkened they missed a turn … a very important turn. After a little while they came across a dried wash out. The dry creek bed didn’t look deep, but the darkness hid the dry washout’s true depth and danger.
They thought they could make it through … but upon entering the wash the bumper hung up on the bottom lifting the rear tires into the air. And since the truck was 2-wheel drive they were going nowhere anytime soon.
The family spent two days wandering in the desert looking for help. Without water – yes they only took a few bottles of water into the desert – they were on the brink of perishing until Roger happened across a road and a friendly park ranger. Then the ensuing search quickly found the rest of his family.
During their ordeal they broke open cactus for moisture, which probably made them sicker (you shouldn’t consume the meat from cacti!) Cactus flower and fruits are edible. Only certain species of barrel cactus contain water safe to consume, and then only the water, not the flesh.
They were even harassed by possible Mexican cartel members! At one point when Roger flagged down and asked a man in a truck for help the man spit in his face and said that someday someone would find his bleached out bones in the desert! Another truck attempted to run over the rest of his family as well.
Somehow they managed to survive this ordeal.
The Sargeant family was not prepared at all to survive being stranded in the desert.
You can read more about their harrowing tale here: Lost in the Desert
And this scenario isn’t rare; the internet is full of stories of survival and death from becoming stranded in the desert!
Remember to be prepared for any scenario, especially if you’ll be traveling in or through dry arid desert-like regions. There is an amazing beauty to behold in the deserts, and plenty of recreational activities.
And enjoying the desert can be safe, especially with the right survival preps and mindset. Use these tips below to survive a possible “stranded in the desert” scenario.
Keeping Your Vehicle Maintained and Prepped!
Your vehicle is a mechanical marvel of engineering. But if just one little thing goes wrong it can leave you stranded, and it’s usually in the most extreme environments …
High temperatures are tough on your car just like hey are on you!
Before you take your vehicle into extreme environments it’s important to check it out first, and address any issues prior to your excursion. If you aren’t mechanically inclined go to a certified mechanic. Don’t get yourself or your family killed just because you’re cheap! But beware of the ‘everything needs fixin’ trap.
What to check for proper maintenance:
Make sure they are all properly inflated. Check your manufacturer specifications usually found on the driver’s side door.
Adequate tread is super important. It’s what provides traction and grip. Also on hot surfaces your tread will wear out faster. When your tread is gone you’ll get to the belts and that’s a recipe for disaster!
Also check for cracks appearing on the tires. This happens because of rot and can cause epic failures. This is uncommon for most Americans because we usually wear out the tread before our tires rot. If it’s not an everyday driver this is a larger concern.
And don’t forget to check your spare!!! You don’t want a flat in the desert only to realize your spare is flat as well … or missing!
- Belts and Hoses
Belts and hoses are vital to your car making it from point a to b. If they are worn or cracked or even old they can fail leaving you stranded. And the only way to get back on the road is usually replacement. Once again a mechanic can help you find these issues if you aren’t confident to.
- Bushing and Joints
Your vehicle has dozens of bushings and joints. They’re used on your suspension, steering among other things.
- Fluids and brakes
Always check your oil and radiator fluids before venturing into dangerous environments. While you’re at it top off the windshield fluid and check your brake fluid. Please keep your brakes maintained well no matter where you drive. They keep you from killing other people on the road!
Stocking your Vehicle’s Emergency Gear
Your vehicle is made to carry passengers and their cargo. Please ensure that your cargo includes the necessary provisions to survive a possible desert stranding when traveling this summer.
Here is a list of the items you should consider stocking in your vehicle:
- WATER!!! Yes you need plenty of water. Keep extra stored in your trunk or an area not exposed to direct light.
- Sun protective clothing like wide brim hats and loose fitting full cover clothing are important for desert survival. You want long pants and long sleeves to protect you from the sun. Also don’t forget the proper footwear like sturdy leather boots.
- First aid kit with snake bite kit. There are a lot of ways to get hurt in the desert and help can often be far off.
- GPS unit and a MAP + compass. It’s easy to get lost in the dessert so a good GPS unit can be handy. Beware regular vehicle GPS … they’ve gotten people lost and killed! Learn how to navigate by compass and map for a reliable backup: Map and Compass Orienteering
- Spare vehicle fluids like radiator fluid and engine oil.
- Emergency kit of your choice. Pocketknife, string, paracord, plastic sheating or garbage bags, tweezers, safety pins, matches whistle, signal mirror and the likes.
Having the gear and supplies is important, but they will do you little good if you don’t know how to survive in the desert.
As mentioned earlier a super important tip is that you should not consume the flesh of cactus in order to obtain hydration. It can often make you sick, lead to diarrhea only increasing dehydration! The flowers and fruit of cacti are edible however and contain some moisture.
These are great resources for you to learn desert survival! READ THEM PLEASE!