Mythbusting: Preppers and Car Fires

Written by
Aaron YR

Mythbusting: Preppers and Car Fires

Written by
Aaron YR

Mythbusting: Preppers and Car Fires

Written by
Aaron YR
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Introduction

One of the things we try to press as it relates to disaster management and mobility is "always look for the next thing".

Ideally, we want to go from foot to a bike, or bike to a car. If we can go from a car to a Cesna, better still. This requires a few things: Fuel, skill, and sometimes, some inventive methods of acquisition.

The problem with emergency travel is that as often as not, things go the other way. Sometimes, fate has some pretty horrible circumstances in store for you... Murphy's Law can make life painful, and as my dad says "the adventure doesn't start until you're broken down in the middle of nowhere".

On that note, say hello to "Coyote Works."

Grizz, Coconut Water, and INCH bags

Often as not, someone inspires our articles, so today's message is brought to you thanks to this guy at Coyote Works. A prepper who manages to burn what looks like a brand-new Jeep JKU to the ground, losing his wallet and credit cards in the process.

"Got most of my critical stuff: Light masts, my shovel, my tripod, and now I'm calmly watching my $35,000 jeep burn while I narrate. Plus, I've got a rifle, two pistols, a shotgun, and my Sig on me, of course." 18:43 if you don't wanna waste 30 minutes of your life.

...But good news - he still has his "Grizz".

YouTube is a modern Vaudeville, so all the macabre and ridiculous stuff you find there really isn't any surprise. Despite the fact that this video has all the hallmarks of insurance fraud, vehicles *do* catch fire and that *is* a valid topic.

First though, let's talk about preppers and why they're basically one big myth that needs busted.

One of the reasons we exist is that preppers have utterly crapped in the pool. A century back, having a few months of food on hand, a rifle for hunting and defense, and being able to grow your own food wasn't "prepping". It was common sense. People did those things because that's how you stayed alive.

It wasn't a hobby, or a topic to broadcast to a mindless audience. Preparation is practical and it makes good sense. We're all about preparation.

Prepping, on the other hand, has become an absurd sideshow that is basically just Golf with guns; guys show up, show off their clubs, talk about golf, and might play it badly, they build an identity around their fondness for Golf, but they never really *do* anything. At the end of the day, it's just a game.

Prepping and gun people are all too often like this.

As you probably know, our of our main goals is to restore resiliency in a traditional sense; a collected, practical view of emergency management and the intellectual framework to deal with whatever disaster comes down the pike. So please, Fight the pageantry.

Outcomes

After his vehicle burns to the ground, this guy sets up his camp and says:

  • I'm 30 miles from a major road, if I have to walk outta here I'm talking potentially a 2 to 3 day walk.
  • I've got a rifle, two pistols, a shotgun, and my Sig on me (of course)
  • I managed to save 6 gallons of water for myself... cause again I'm out in the middle of the desert and I need that water to survive.
  • "My INCH bag", or in this case, my "I'm coming home early" bag.
  • My wallet, ID, and Credit Cards were burned.

If we listen to what this guy is saying, he isn't succeeding because of his "preps", he's not failing in spite of them.

Let's talk about mobility.

Mobility: The Don'ts

The first step in mobility is Shank's mare. The Chevrolegs. Your own two feet. In order to move on to more efficient methods, we have to be physically mobile. That means managing our equipment in such a way that we don't have a ton of gear we can't bear to leave and can't carry with us. It also means having a manageable load weight, and not over-stuffing your vehicle with stuff you can't live without if the rig is disabled.

So, when this guy lists what equipment he saved, we have to immediately ask ourselves: "what exact emergency is this guy planning for?"

He's got a routine Type II which is no big deal. Moderately intense, but hey, it's over quickly with no direct threat to his life. If you haven't guessed by now, while we're huge proponents of having guns and being skilled in their use... but if you've got more than you can carry, they are a liability.

We've tackled the concept of "bug out bags" before... short story, bugging out is what refugees do. Your bag should sustain your efforts as you rapidly plan around changing situations. Your vehicle EDC should be simple things that support your vehicle or add comfort to what you can organize with your sustainment bag.

Since we're using this guy as a lightning rod, let's ground ourselves to some priorities:

  1. Don't breath poisonous smoke (3 minutes)
  2. Don't freeze or overheat (3 hours)
  3. Don't die of thirst (3 days)
  4. Don't starve (3 weeks)

He's got 6 gallons of water, some food, and 5 guns. Has he correctly identified *any* of the threats he's facing? Is this prepper "prepared"? Is there an addition to the Rule of 3's that includes having at least 2 guns per hand?

Fight these fights in advance, friends... with good planning, not stuff.

Dealing with Car Fires

Handy Dandy chart showing which Extinguisher to use for which situation(s). They're not all universal! Get the right tool for the job.

There are a number of things that could have caused the fire, so here's a few:

  • Hot exhaust over tall dry grass
  • Loose oil cap spilling oil over hot engine 
  • Poorly wired accessories without fuses
  • Other fluid leak such as Automatic Transmission fluid, and I'm sure there are more.

What we have here is a failure of awareness, and/or technical knowledge. If you don't already know, fire extinguishers are not all created equally.

There are classes that define their capability, so matching the extinguisher to the job is mandatory if you want a good outcome. We can't know if Coyote Works matched his extinguisher to the task, but so you know, the correct type is the ABC dry chemical variety. 2.5 pounds is about the right size for most common vehicle problems if you get to the fire quickly.

Remember to hit the fire low and sweep. Don't worry about what the dry chemicals might ruin. If your car burns to the ground, the outcome is worse.

A word on caution:

If you're driving around, keep in mind that your vehicle gets hot. Yes, that's common sense, so it follows that you shouldn't then park your car on dry grass. When preppers do stuff like this - whether it's their fault or not - they make anyone interested in preparation look foolish.

Part of our mission is to revitalize usefulness and cut a swath through the nonsense that reasonable people can follow. As such, consider this. Our actions must be 'beyond reproach', if we're to be taken seriously. If you make a mistake, own it, correct it, and fail fast. Mistakes happen.

Moving Backwards

So we discussed mobility and how we want to move forward towards more efficient mobility. If the worst happens and you lose that edge, we need a couple things:

  • A manageable weight sustainment bag that will keep you alive on foot.
  • A good degree of physical conditioning that encourages mobility.
  • The knowledge that we didn't over-pack our vehicle with expensive, difficult to replace items we couldn't really use anyway...

For this reason, we want to take a minute to consider our vehicle kit.

The stuff we load into our vehicles should be additive in nature; just as our sustainment bag is additive to our EDC. For example, we might carry the tools necessary to improvise a water filter on our 1st Line/EDC. On our second, we carry some vessels and a water filter. In our vehicle, we might consider something like water bricks, which can be filled ahead of time and supplement our backpack.

If our vehicle then burns up and all we can get is our backpack and a brick or two, we're no worse off than we were in the previous step in the mobility cycle, when we were on foot. We can still get and clean water, we can still move, and we still have all our basic supplies... we're just burning calories instead of liquid fuel.

Conclusion

Trauma Kit and ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher; right towards the rear hatch, easily accessible... even when the vehicle is full.

Whether or not Coyote Works was negligent in the way the fire started, how it was handled was 30-minutes of archived-for-the-ages cringe worthy of YouTube. As with most subjects, I don't like to talk about them unless I know a thing or two, so here's a short anecdote to end on. I'd been taking a winter trail through the Cascades way back when. During the trip, the oil cap rattled loose and started spilling oil on the block. It had been on for hours... the trip was short in terms of mileage, but it was rough terrain and the road was washed out in a few spots, requiring some off road time. I pulled into the town of Packwood and immediately smelled oil... so I did what that guy did: I lifted the hood.

The oxygen hit the heat and fuel, and *woosh*, instant flames. I slammed the hood shut (cutting off the supply of oxygen) and ran to get the water I brought anticipating nice weekend of solo camping in the Douglas Wilderness. I lifted the hood, and doused the flames as much as I could, before they died down. I didn't carry a fire extinguisher in those days because I was broke and stupid, so learn from my mistake. Have one that's properly matched to your vehicle.

In any case, here are the takeaways:

  • Don't expect help. A guy across the street stopped, looked on and took the time to say "Well, that's not good." Special thanks, pal. Move along.
  • Have a fire extinguisher as a profilactic measurement.
  • If you do smell smoke or have concerns, make your way to an area that's safe and non-flammable. I choose a small side street that was poorly traveled. Had I chosen a gas station, how would that have turned out? How about a dry field?
  • Load your most vital stuff in the easiest to access places. Fire extinguishers, first aid kits, mobility/sustainment bags, firearms; they should all be easy to access (and don't overpack).
  • If it gets out of control, it's time to adjust quick and control the damage. Major props to this guy for that. After setting up his camera (eye roll) he hit it hard and moved some earth to stop the fire from spreading (sincere applause).

So that's it. Pack smart, don't follow the crowd off the cliff, and make good decision about bad situations before the happen. I've made a lot of boneheaded mistakes and that's why I don't mind commenting on them. We have a choice in life: learn the hard way, or pay attention to those who do and don't make the same mistakes.

Cheers,

ISG Team