December 8, 2006 4:00 PM PST

Survival and prevention tips: Share your suggestions

The tragic death of our colleague James Kim and the wilderness rescue of his wife and children this week have prompted many of us to ask ourselves very personal questions: Could this happen to me? And what can I do about it?

We're asking you to post your tips and advice--especially those that relate to technology--in our "TalkBack" section at the end of this article. Then, next week, we'll summarize the replies and turn them into an article here on CNET

To give you an idea of what we're hoping you can help us with, here are a few suggestions that have been made in the last few days:

Some wondered whether the analog-to-digital switch will imperil mobile coverage in rural areas. Ham radios were suggested as a backup. Even though local police said the Kims used a tourist map, some posts said generally to be wary of maps generated by computers unaware of seasonal road closings.

how to help
Memorial fund
CNET editor in chief thanks readers for their support and gives details about how they can help the Kim family.

On, my colleague Rafe Needleman suggested that a Web 2.0 company could create a "fail-safe service" that would raise the alarm if you go missing. He suggested a system that you'd activate when you go on a trip, and you'd let it know through text messages when you've arrived at waypoints and your final destination.

A response to Rafe's post suggested portable cell towers that could be set up during searches when mobile coverage is lacking, as was the case in the Oregon mountains. Another pointed to a "Fauxjack" demonstration of tracking a car in real time through a clever combination of GPS, Nextel's network, and Google Maps.

Other suggestions included understanding hypothermia and keeping extra blankets in the car. On CNET's internal discussion list for employees, which we call CNET Spam, personal locator beacons and satellite phones--which can be found in the $600 range--have been mentioned. So has, a survival review, information and product Web site.

If you have suggestions that you would like to share, please post them below. And here's information on how to help the James Kim family.

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stay with your car??
Much of the media covering the story mentioned repeatedly to
"stay with your car". You'd wonder after 5 or 6 days alone if help
would ever arrive. One could hardly blame him for setting out
on foot after waiting for all that time.

I've seen the photos of the area posted at Cnet and it seems
much of the snow was melted by the time he left the car on foot.
I'm left wondering why he didn't just walk back down the road.
Perhaps we'll never know.

So my suggestion would be that after waiting by your car forever
and a day and you feel compelled to leave on foot... stay on or
near the road.
Posted by Sparky672 (244 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Have a full tank of gas
It amazes me he tried to drive through any mountain area, and especially in bad weather, without a full tank of gas. The bottom line is they stopped the car because they thought they were going to run out of gas, that never should have happened. I've driven through mountain areas before in GOOD weather, I've always made sure the tank was full and filled as often as possible.
Posted by JmboCov (11 comments )
Link Flag
You don't have to stay with the car, but you had better return to the car before sun down. The car is the ultimate shelter against the cold, the wet, and wild animals.

The best thing to do is bring a bunch of little things you can use for markers. Since the road he was on was rather obvious, markers wouldn't have even been needed for him to find his way back to the car. The rule of thumb is to travel no more than 5 miles ON THE ROAD in each direction (there were only 3) which is 10 miles max (round trip) of walking per day. Make sure you don't over exert and sweat because sweat is moisture and moisture kills when you're in that environment. There was actually a closed lodge 1 mile from where he was that his family could have sheltered in. Even if he had walked 8 miles in each direction over 2 days, he would have found the lodge on the third day.

But that's not what he did. He told his wife he'd be back by mid day but he never came back. At first I thought maybe he got lost on the way back in the wilderness but he wasn't in the wilderness, he was on a road that trucks can't miss. After he went 4 miles on the road, he should have gone back to the car but he didn't and went OFF the road which is suicidal. Since he didn't come back when he was suppose to, his wife carried two small children in the cold to go looking for him and something bad might have happened to her and the kids.

Once he went off the road, it's easy to get wet. Once you get wet you're as good as dead within hours of the sun going down.
Posted by george_ou (18 comments )
Link Flag
How about one of those truck type of beacons
if not mistaken tractor trailer companies have those type of gps systems on trucks and maybe a car could be adapted to turn on with car key, that signals help is needed for those whom own cars?
Posted by planalto (5 comments )
Link Flag
Ten Winter Tips
1) Mountain road shortcuts are never shortcuts. There are some
state highways that I avoid during the winter. What you want is
the road with the maximum number of large snow plows. I was
trapped myself on an Interstate for 13 hours during a blizzard. I
was actually glad to be surrounded by so many other trapped
people. We checked up on each other and shared food while the
road crews were digging us out.

2) Make sure your tire chains fit. Mine didn't.

3) Waterproof gloves are important in a winter-type emergency.
It gets really hard to put those chains on when your fingers stop
working. The gloves the professional chain installers wear are
dirt cheap.

4) Keep some non-perishable food in the car. Your body is a
kind of furnace. Food is what ultimately keeps you warm.

5) If staying hydrated is a problem, don't eat snow! Put it in
something and let it warm up first.

6) Keep your core body temperature up. Cover your head and
chest. Share body heat.

7) Recognize the signs of hypothermia. First you are cold. Then
really cold. Next is uncontrolled shivering. Your extremities
become useless. Then for no reason you start to warm up.
THAT IS BIG TROUBLE. Find some source of heat immediately.
Under the right conditions any temperature less than 98.6 can
cause hypothermia.

8) Batteries stop working when they get cold. You can warm
them up to a working temperature if you think your gadget will
help get you found.

9) Learn how to make and keep a fire going. It keeps you warm
and helps signal your location. As James demonstrated, there
are all sorts of things in a car that burn very well. Assemble
your fuel before you start a fire, that way your fire can be drying
wet things out while it burns.

10) Join the Boy Scouts. If it is too late for that, get a good
survival book and familiarize yourself with it. Make sure it has a
section on First Aid. Keep it in your car for emergencies.
Posted by sbwinn (216 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Checkin Service
Some industrious individual should create a Remote Check in service which allows people to "check in" when they are on vacation or business trips. Basically you would activate the service when you are travelling. At some specified time interval, you would email, sms, phone call, or otherwise check into the service. The service would store your location, etc. each time you checked in. There are many ways to determine your location via GPS, Wifi, phone booth called from, etc.

If you did not check in, the service would contact a list of people that you defined to let them know that you have missed a check in time and forward your last location to them.

If you did not check in over a 24 hour period, these designated people could submit a flag to the service and the service would attempt to contact you to let you know that people are worried about you. You simply check in again to reset - and everyone is notified. If you do not check in again, then it could notify the proper authories and forward them your last few checkin locations.

So that's a rough idea of how this would work. I know that when my sister travels, she always forwards me her itinerary so that I know where she should be in case something happens. This service would automate all that and make it easy to manage.

I think that would be a nifty service.
Posted by songzunhuang (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
someone should....
start this service and dedicate it to Mr. Kim. The Kim Service. Proceeds could assist the family.
Posted by PoeticaL (14 comments )
Link Flag
Great Idea
This is a great idea!

If such a service existed and contacted the authorities about someone not checking in,would a search be started right away?

Is there some time interval a person/family needs to be out-of-contact before authorities consider it serious and start a search?
Posted by l_adira (2 comments )
Link Flag
Yes, that's the start
There's a conversation around this idea on <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by rafe (402 comments )
Link Flag
A good tech idea.
Most useful ideas I've seen come down to (a) what you can do to
avoid being stuck in the snow in your car (b) if you do get stuck
what you can do while you wait to be rescued (c) how to get
attention assuming you are out of range.

As a service check-in makes sense. No alarm unless the
'account holder' fails to check in. For any reason. Would work
for elderly &#38; disabled too. Idea being not to make it intrusive,
just there, just in case.

And, even in situations where electonics don't connect reliably &#38;
roads may not be plowed in winter (happens in NY too) when
things get dicy good idea to turn on your cell's GPS so that if it
comes to that there is a better chance of being traced.
Posted by nyyo (3 comments )
Link Flag
Simple Prevention
These are just simple things to remember:

1) Stay on the main roads, don't take shortcuts and if you still end up on a less-traveled road, pay attention to any signs, especially those that mention snow. In the mountains, a storm can come on very quickly. Knowing the elevation of the area can also help.
2)DO NOT TRAVEL AT NIGHT on unfamiliar roads in the mountains unless you are very familiar with the area. It's easy to become disoriented and the sun is not available to give you an idea of the direction.
3)If cell phones don't work, many other items are useless also, so make sure you know what you are buying.
4)If it is raining or snowing, don't keep climbing on mountain roads. It's logical to think that the road will eventually go downhill, but there might be quite a few miles to go before that happens.
5)DO NOT leave the main road even if you see a locked/gated/fenced road that is open. As happened with the Kim family, that road should never have been open.
I hope my suggestions will help...and I am still so sorry this tragedy happened.
Posted by DeejTu1945 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
In addition to good gloves, food, and other aforementioned
items I would recommend:

1. Road flares, several of them. They can be seen real far away
and their color says danger. Not only can you use them for
signaling, but they can help start a fire when all you have is
damp wood.

2. A big square of orange plastic sheet. Use it for a signal flag,
pull down a sapling and tie a piece on to the top and then let go.
Spread it out on the ground or car roof keep it in place with

3. A survival type of knife and/or a hatchet, some tools such as
screw drivers and pliers. As a matter of fact for Christmas this
year I bought my son a combination tool at Home Depot to keep
in his car; It has a an adjustable wrench, pliers, screw drivers,
knife blades and a saw, all for $5.00

4. A saucepan for heating water and melting snow or ice. If the
only shelter you have is your car you can also heat some stones
in water and bring them inside so that they radiate heat. If you
don't have a saucepan with you then your vehicle may have
metal hub caps. When stored in your car you can pack stuff
inside the pan, soup mix, canned food, a big spoon.

5. A couple of candles and maybe a candle lantern.

4. Fire starters. Make your own by drizzling hot wax onto small
cardboard squares. Pack a few into a watertight tin with some
strike anywhere matches, wrap the seal with electrical tape.
Make waterproof matches by dipping the strike end into melted

5. A big Maglight type of flashlight. Good for signaling at night
and it is club in a defensive situation.

6. If you see search aircraft, but they are not in your vicinity you
maybe able to attract their attention with your car mirror.

7. There are a number of survival books available, read one or

8. You are tougher than you think, don't give up.
Posted by Lee in San Diego (608 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Just sharing some travel/survival tips

I'm extrememly saddened by the loss and ordeal the Kim family experienced. They did not deserve this. I can't even imagine what or how the Kim family is going through now. My prayers are with them.

I just wanted to share what I've done and what I've learned from my grandmother and parents on long road trips. I was always taught to pack enough food/water and clothing to double my trip just in case since you just never know. We'd always pack things that don't spoil as far as food. We've also packed enough medicine and pack a FULL first aid kit that is updated. Since I've had kids I've added to that and pack enough food/drinks/clothes/toys even to triple my trip. May sound like a lot but just to make sure. You'll just never know. You never know if you'll extend your trip or be seperated. I've always kept an extra suitcase in my car for any sort of emergency. My husband complains about the extra baggage I constantly carry in there since its more gas I waste but in case of an emergency, earthquake, house burns down, god forbid, my husband goes crazy and tries to kill me I'm set to go. Be for a trip I also contact as MANY folks I know as possible with my travel itin and for at least one person to check in on my family from time to time to make sure and let them know where I am at. Sounds obsessive but its just in case. You never know what crazy person you may run into or something. You just never know. I also keep full cell phones charged. I have 2 phones both of different carriers. I also use my credit card when traveling to show any pattern of where I'm at. I also check any road conditions before traveling. Print out as many maps as possible and mentallly remember a picture in my mind how that map looks like. I also keep landmarks in my head as we travel just in case. I dress in travel clothing. Forget the heals and dress clothes. Dress in hiking or some sort of athletic comfortable material. My family travels by car a lot and I've seen whats happend. My dad broke down between SD and SF when I was in college with no one to help him. My brother had to drive down from SF to pick him up, repair the car and drive home. Being single in collge and traveled alone many times have taught me to take care of myself and to not to trust anything. You just never know. There may be crazy truck drivers out there or whatever. Right now if you look into my car, you can pretty much live out of it for about a week. Maybe more if I don't clean it out. :)

OH, one really important thing. I NEVER keep my gas tank under half a tank even if I'm driving in downtown LA. I NEVER. You just never know who you'll be running from.
Posted by heathermum (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
sharing more tips
Also carrying personal ID, contact info on your self is very helpful just in case you leave your wallet or purse someplace. I've worn around me my ID, cash, extra contact lenses, keys, cell phone. If you get in a car crash and can't get to your personal items because its under something it may be easier to get it from your pocket.
Posted by heathermum (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Even if it's only power out due to a storm.
1. Space blanket to conserve body heat.
2. Some kind of flasher. Better yet a crank radio/flashlight/
flasher combo.
3. At least some portable calories. Look at backpacking sources
and/or meal replacement sources for things that will survive
time &#38; car temps.
4. Water.
5. Bright yellow plastic poncho - many possible uses.
6. Boots. Hats. Warm scarves (multiuse).
7. Matches and/or fire starting materials.
8. When on the road leave instructions to someone, somewhere,
if you don't hear from me I'm stuck.
9. Blaze Orange stuff including plastic tape used by contractors.
Not heavy, not expensive, designed to be visible.
10. Something to "crank" a cell phone - and turn GPS on in any
evolving emergency.

Most of this come from having gone through a few ice storms in
Western NY with 5 days + without power. And a few hours
(thankfully) stuck on the Thruway (not backwoods) in a bad snow

I consder the Kim family, both Kati and James to have been
heros. They did the very best they could for their family under
awful circumstances.

Asking "what could have been done better" is a sucker question.
They did the best. I only hope if it were my family that we could
rise to that standard.
Posted by nyyo (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You'd walk off the road?
I would look around and leave the car but make sure I go back to the car before sun down and not get wet. But would you walk 4 miles on the road and then go in to a wet creek area and spend the night in the cold with wet cotton clothing?
Posted by george_ou (18 comments )
Link Flag
plan ahead, patience later
First of all I want to say hindsight is the gift we wish we had in many of lifes worst situations.

I believe the Kim family were ingenious in so very many ways. I admire their tenacity and believe strongly they saved their children in a collective effort of love. I have little doubt that faced with the same circumstances I would seek help as Mr. Kim did.

My suggestions for what to take along and what to do to drive safely in the wintertime:

Sleeping bag for every person traveling
They also sell specially made heat/thermal blankets that hold heat in
Extra batteries, place batteries close to body, in pockets to keep warm
Warning triangles
Gloves or mittens
Traction mats
Fire starting material
Window washing solvent
Ice scraper
Paper towels or cloth rags
Booster cables
Lighter fluid
Matches (stored in Ziploc)
Small snow shovel
Snow brush
Sand, salt or cat litter (for creating traction in event car is stuck)
If driving in snowy conditions, take an extra can of gas in approved container.
The snow may melt in a few days, you could perhaps then get out.
Advise someone of your plans
Make arrangements to call a go to person at set times during your day
That person will know when you last reported in and where you were and what your plans are.
If you dont report in they can be your informant.
If traveling with children: extra diapers, formula, triple up what you think you may need.
Books, booklight, boredom will make you impatient.
It helps to be comfortable and remain calm
Stay put, keep warm, wait&wait&wait.
The key is to stay warm, stay fueled (this retains heat).
Whether youre in a group or you find yourself alone a book might assist in passing the time.
They may also be used to start a fire if you run out of fire starting fuels.

I was raised in PA where it snows and there are many backroads, etc. I now live in Florida and tire of hearing about hurricane preparedness, "but" I am certainly prepared for any hurricanes. I believe it comes with living in the territory. I would have to say that if you are not from an area perhaps speaking to people in that area of what you should be alerted to as dangerous might assist as well.
Posted by PoeticaL (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
forseight and patience
A bag of abrasive material, such as sand, salt or cat litter; small snow shovel; snow brush; traction mats; flashlight; window-washing solvent; ice scraper; cloth or paper towels; booster cables; blanket; warning flares or triangles; gloves or mittens; cellphone.

First of all I want to say hindsight is the gift we wish we had in many of lifes worst situations.
I believe the Kim family were ingenious in so very many ways. I admire their tenacity and believe strongly they saved their children in a collective effort of love.

My suggestions for what to take along and what to do to drive safely in the wintertime:

Sleeping bag for every person traveling
They also sell specially made heat/thermal blankets that hold heat in
Extra batteries, place batteries close to body, in pockets to keep warm
Warning triangles
Gloves or mittens
Traction mats
Fire starting material
Window washing solvent
Ice scraper
Paper towels or cloth rags
Booster cables
Lighter fluid
Matches (stored in Ziploc)
Small snow shovel
Snow brush
Sand, salt or cat litter (for creating traction in event car is stuck)
If driving in snowy conditions, take an extra can of gas in approved container.
The snow may melt in a few days, you could perhaps then get out.
Advise someone of your plans
Make arrangements to call a go to person at set times during your day
That person will know when you last reported in and where you were and what your plans are.
If you dont report in they can be your informant.
If traveling with children: extra diapers, formula, triple up what you think you may need.
Books, booklight, boredom will make you impatient.
It helps to be comfortable and remain calm
Stay put, keep warm, wait&wait&wait.
The key is to stay warm, stay fueled (this retains heat).
Whether youre in a group or you find yourself alone a book might assist in passing the time.
They may also be used to start a fire if you run out of fire starting fuels.

I am from PA where it snows and there are backroads, etc. I now live in Florida and often tire of hearing about Hurricane preparedness, but because of this constant education I am certainly prepared for a hurricane. I believe that perhaps asking someone in the areas you are traveling what you might want to be alerted to as a potential danger may help as well.
Posted by PoeticaL (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I did follow the news of the events and it's very tragic that Mr. Kim lost his life in the attempt to save his family. He was a very courageous man and will surely be missed.

An emergency reflective blanket/sleeping bag is a must, regardless of the season. Just throw one or two in the glove compartment. Carry more food and water than you know you'll need on any trip and extra long shelf life food like MRE's are good to leave in the trunk just in case. A beanie and a pair of gloves in the trunk seems kind of useless...unless you don't have anything at all. You lose alot of heat through your head, and your hand freeze up pretty quick, along with your toes.

I also would like to propose an idea for consideration. I would never suggest this in anything other than the most desperate of circumstances, but I did read that they burned their tires. This is actually something that is recommended because of the thick black smoke that can be seen for miles,...and now for my proposal. If my children's lives are at risk I will take any measure necessary to ensure their survival. If this was a circumstance I personally was faced with after days in freezing weather I would not hesitate to burn trees. A fire gets attention, and a big fire gets alot of attention. I would try to find a clump of trees away from the forest so they would burn on their own, but if need be, I would burn the whole forest down if I needed to. Yes, I would carted off to prison, but my kids would be alive. After serving my term, I would dedicate my life to replanting trees to put back what I took away. Just a proposal, I was wondering what anyone else thought about this? Which is more important? Children's lives, or trees?
Posted by ega278 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Forest fire?
As a forester, I can tell you that you couldn't generate enough
heat to start a forest fire up there this time of year. You would
waste all your starters, be they matches, lighters or flares.

But it would pay to learn how to select kindling, like squaw wood
(dead branches off of standing live trees) and fat wood (pitchy
heart wood) from pine stumps, if they exist in the area you are
stranded. Learn how to make frizzle sticks from the squaw wood
and that is why you need at least a knife or better, a small ax in
your car or emergency kit.

With these kindling pieces, gather sound dead limbs from
downed trees. These might be wet and cold, but they are for
using as they warm and dry from the little fire you start with the
kindling.You need a goodly supply of wood to add and keep the
fire going. then keep it going no matter what.
Posted by carlyee (4 comments )
Link Flag
I have had the same thought- put the last two tires at the base of a
dead tree to make the biggest fire you can. Obviously extreme and
the last resort, but a way to get attention.
Posted by sandsunsurf (10 comments )
Link Flag
A Forest fire???
... in a snow storm???

Posted by KittyWhacker (1 comment )
Link Flag
A Few More Suggestions
I have lived in the Northeast, Mid Atlantic, Midwest and the Northwest and the West Coast. Having lived through the great Blizzard in Boston and more recently in Northern VA when Washington, DC was shut down for a week because of impassable roads, I learned a couple of things........

1. when driving in an area where there may be potential snow fall or icy conditions, always drive a 4 X 4 or an all terrain vehicle or have snow chains and know how to put them on yourself (water proof gloves and essential tools required)
2. no vehicles can drive on ice.....upper elevations (I lived in a remote mountainous area near Mt. Ranier) tend to get much colder when the sun goes down....I always carried a large bag of ice melt in my trunk......several times it saved me from getting really stuck
3. a large bag of sand is also useful to use for traction when you get stuck
4. I always check the weather never know
5. if you don't know how to drive in snow or ice and you are caught in the beginning of a winter storm (light snow or sleet) head for shelter and get out of the bad weather
6. do not drive at night in unfamiliar remote areas and particularly when the roads are icy..... ice on asphalt can be quite treacherous (it has the appearance of a rain slicked road and is the cause of many spin outs for many unsuspecting drivers)
7. always, always carry fresh water (minimally a gallon for each adult passenger)
8. carry several flashlights with a very large beam (I prefer halogen bulbs)and make sure the batteries are kept fresh. also helpful is a light
you can wear on your may need both of your hands for a more pressing task...
9. a small can of WD-40 and a small can of de-icer
10. rugged, waterproof hiking shoes with multiple pairs of thick stockings
11. clip on spikes for walking in icy areas
12. wear waterproof outerwear and layer natural fiber clothing under it

There have been many excellent suggestions here and I've jotted them down to use in the future. I am definitely going to buy a survival manual.

It is my hope that we all learn something from this heartbreaking tragedy. I have been so sad....writing this has helped a lot. I hope you have found my comments helpful. Thanks for reading this.
Posted by santacafe777 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Personal locator beacons
I am a backpacker, and quite a few of us heading into remote areas have started carrying PLBs. When activated, these send a signal to a satellite saying you are in trouble and also transmits a local tracking signal to let rescuers home in on you. They are expensive, but there are places that rent them.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

As others have also mentioned, proper route planning, checking with locals, and keeping aware of the weather are musts. Heading out into the teeth of a winter storm is never safe. Better to get a hotel for the night while it blows through then check with the police if the road is open. Loosing a day of your vacation is much better than seriously risking your life.
Posted by tcristy (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Redundancy of Systems
As a sailor, climber, and backcountry adventurer I can tell you that the best survival tip is redundancy of systems, having several systems in place in case the first or second fail. Technology is only part of the solution. You must have non-tech solutions ready to go as well. And you need to be psychologically strong enough to make rational decisions when you are hungry, cold, tired, and frightened, and people's lives are at stake.
Posted by Xenu7-214951314497503184010868 (153 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Posted by Rnaylor2 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Managing fear, maintaining common sense in the wilderness
All the gadgets in the world won't help if you are terrified about what is happening. Fear will kill you faster than anything because it can drive you to make unwise decisions about your predicament.

The way to managing fear is knowledge about the problem occurring. In this case, dealing with cold, the elements, lack of food, etc.

One way to conquer your fear is to go at it in safe circumstances, such as learning to live in the wilderness and learning to deal with its dangers. Camping first, backpacking in groups second and after you are an expert, backpacking in a controlled manner by yourself, with monitoring and redundant systems to help you if you get in trouble.

All of these things involve skills that can take years to develop, and I can understand that if you live in an urban environment, have never been without food, water or electricity, have never strayed from safety or home or your car in a way that would require your mind to save you, it can very very easily defeat you.

I would recommend getting involved with wilderness groups, etc. who take regular weekend packing trips into the Sierra or coastal ranges. After you have the skills you can then begin to `practice' with family and friends.

Keep in mind, there may come a time when the comforts of safety are removed for months or years. These are important skills to have.
Posted by keeperplanet (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Common sense
Use common sense. Check the weather report before starting out. If the weather is bad, stick to main roads, don't go taking the scenic route even if your spouse and kids call you a wuss. If you miss a turnoff, double back! Don't assume the next exit will take you where you want to go.

If you're on unfamiliar roads, don't let your gas tank go below the halfway mark before you tank up. Keep food and water in your car. In winter, add some chemical heaters.

Take advantage of available technology. I'm surprised that as beloved of gadgets as poor James was, he didn't have a GPS unit in his car. At the very least a GPS could have shown him his current location relative to other places -- something you can't reliably do with a paper map. You can point to a spot on a paper map and say, "This is where we are" and be off by a dozen miles or more. A GPS will pinpoint your location with better accuracy and you'll have a better idea of how to go from point A to point B. It might even show you the way to go to extricate yourself from a bad situation.

Finally, let someone know where you're going and when you expect to get there, and to call the cops when you're overdue by, say, 12 hours.
Posted by eCurmudgeon (21 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wamrth, food, signalling
Tech is not the answer to everything. Other posters covered
most of these:

1) Space blankes for warmth and signalling

2) Fire starters for signalling and warmth
-Waterproof matches
- Home made "Buddy Burner" (search the web for this)

3) Other signalling devices
- flares
road flares for long burning
aerial flares (from marine store)
- emergency strobe (from marine store)
- signal mirror (can use CD in an emergency)

4) non-perishible food; spare water in dry areas

5) first aid kit
Posted by rbergerpa (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Navigation is a tool to support human orientation, not to replacement it.


Use it before you hit the road at:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by walweb (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Is 'Low Tech' the 'Best Tech'? What about a CB?
When my wife and I set off on a tran-continental journey 15
years ago, we did not have a cell phone. They were rare and
much more expensive than today. We bought a portable CB
radio for emergencies- just in case we go caught in an early
winter storm in the Rockies. We've never used it- thank God.
(and I will definately test it now.) It is still in our Van- the
vehicle we use on long trips after all these years.

I have no idea the range of CB's. Not sure if it would have done
the Kim's any good in the remote, mountainous area where they
were stranded.

My sympathies to the Kim Family.
Posted by yeeha77 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Radios could have helped
CB's are very limited in their range, they are popular amongst truckers who are talking to each other when they are close by but for distance are pretty much useless for any distance over 4-5 miles. In reality unless they had an HF radio or a powerful VHF or UHF radio they were probably out of luck. CB's operate with around .5 watts where a UHF/VHF radio can operate anywhere from 5 to over 100 watts. HF radios can have low wattage and with an experienced user you can talk to stations around the world. You need a ham license to use those types of radios.
Posted by 38ffems (2 comments )
Link Flag
Basic Information & Preparedness
If you have young children or babies in the car, take extra precautions and do not take risks. If you need to be at work on Monday, but there is a severe winter storm - too bad. Your and your family's safety comes first.

When going on a road trip, always notify someone of your route and planned travel time.

If your car does not have GPS, or you cannot afford a portable unit, do more than bring a paper map. Check routes on the Internet prior to departure and/or hotlines for up-to-date road closures and conditions.

When driving through snow, be prepared for outside conditions in case you need to get out of the car for any reason (e.g., to change a tire, put on snowchains, dig yourself out of a jam, etc.). Have gloves, proper footwear, head coverings, chemical heater, etc...

If you do not have a 4 x 4, then chains are a must. Definitely do not drive through mountainness backroads without a 4 x 4 or chains. Never drive through backroads at night, unless absolutely necessary.

If your car does not have LoJack or TelAid (two way communication), then consider a portable beacon, two-way radio, or CB radio that family's commonly used on ski slopes.

Always have a basic emergency/survival kit, which includes candles/matches, rope, gloves, space blanket, chemical heaters, high range whistle, flares, water, food bars. These are fairly inexpensive and you can put them together yourself. I've gotten several survival and emergency kits as gifts from family. Give one to a friend. Order kits online for convenience.

If you miss a turn off, TURN AROUND right away, especially if young children are in the car. Never let your ego or angry passengers take control. Stay calm.

Never let your gas run low. Always keep filled up while on the major highways. Many highways will tell you when the next GAS or Food is available. Be prepared.

Stay in the car. If you've informed someone of your trip and you don't arrive at your destination, someone will come looking for you. It's easier to spot a car, then a person.

Get an early start. Drive while you are refreshed and there is light. This can make all the difference. Tired people don't always use good judgment.
Posted by dinajwhite (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Extra clothes and signalling gear in winter
In addition to the basic emergency/survival equipment mentioned in the article I would add a dozen road flares, a warm hat and gloves, an extra coat, sweatshirt and sweat pants and a wool planket. Also a basic first aid kit with a good amount of bandanges and tape. All of this extra stuff will take up a significant amount of room in the trunk or elsewhere in your vehicle but it doesn't weigh a lot.
Posted by SharpD0g (16 comments )
Link Flag
basic survival
i realize having some extra technology will definitely help... but as we advance into the future, we'll definitely become more and more dependent on them. however, the only best and sure way in a situation like this is learn the basic rules of survival.
Posted by ohcdc1 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
GPS, blankets, water, etc.
A handheld GPS can be used to actually determine your location. Maps are nice, but are useless if you don't know where you actually are. Some GPSes have emergency locator beacons that broadcast on certain emergency frequencies that are picked up by search &#38; rescue, and even by commercial airliners, who then alert the authorities.
Blankets are important, of course. Shelter and keeping warm is essential.
Water is also essential to survival. Earthquake survival food packs. Such stuff should be readily available in grocery stores in earthquake areas like SoCal or San Francisco.
Something as simple as a mirror is helpful too, to signal search &#38; rescue crews, e.g., search helicopters. I carry a signal mirror in my first-aid pack. Flares serve the same purpose.
Several European countries, btw, require that each car has a first-aid kit.

And finally, one of the most important things is to combat "get-there-itis." If the weather turns bad, change plans and stay in the town you are, instead of pushing to try to reach the originally planned destination.
Posted by JoeF2 (1306 comments )
Reply Link Flag
James Kim's tragic death
This is to all the people who knew him. If you want to prevent a tragedy like this then make sure that road has a gate on it in winter that can't be opened by vandals. Another man died in almost the same spot 11 years ago. He staved to death in deep snow in his pickup truck. He left notes to his wife during his 3month ordeal. This gate blocked the road and was opened by vandals
Put a gate up in the name of Kim and make it so vandals can't open it.
Posted by hsteffee (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gates can't be put everywhere
FS 23 from which the Kims turned off is a main USFS arterial that
provides access to multiple ownerships. The BLM was gated, but
the lock was cut by vandals (I have questions about that, since
most BLM gates have alock guard around the actual lock that
pretty much prevents some one using a bolt cutters on the lock
or shooting it off.)

As for the death in 1995, this guy never left his truck during all
the time he was keeping his diary. "God, will provide
(paraphrase)", he wrote. He wasn't in the same place as Kims. If
he had walked just a short distance he would have been out of
the snow lcoals had related.
Posted by carlyee (4 comments )
Link Flag
Gate locking idea using technology
Thinking that whomever had broke that lock,the idea comes to mind,had some form of lock device been attached between the lock and the bar that closes the road access, some beam of information technology could be forwarded to local law officals or park police to access area,in advance of future problems.
When viewing that CNN report of road on left or road straight ahead,i would have also chose road straight ahead too and would not have been good choice.
So, get some computer genius guy or gal to invent some form of anti-lock breaking alarm system so detection is known today and not only when people are in trouble?
Posted by planalto (5 comments )
Link Flag
Never, ever leave the main road...
As Someone for Whom Driving long distance is a daily reality, NEVER EVER leave the Interstate or a state highway in bad conditions or in threat of bad conditions. The state will always clear those roads first or if they can't and your are stuck you can easily be found. As bad as weather can be, conditions will always be worse for longer on secondary roads.
Posted by jmmejzz (107 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Major roads ?
Often the primary roads are closed for precautionary reasons or for the convenience of snow plow crews and secondary roads are indeed passable at these times. It is a risk. And during the search for Mr. Kim, a great of time was spent "searching" the major routes on which it was unlikely anything untoward had taken place and not been detected.
Posted by FoolsGold (30 comments )
Link Flag

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