This post was authored by Jason of JK cOlllllllOrado, reprinted with permission. Safety is the number one priority when off-roading any time of the year, but especially during the winter season. These rules are a great reminder for experienced wheelers and a must-read for beginners.
Rule #1 - NEVER GO ALONE!!!! EVER! I don't care what tank you drove in the Army, I don’t care how much you bench press, I don't care where you’re from or how much money you have built into your rig. If you can't find someone to wheel with, DON'T GO. Welcome to Colorado where the weather changes within the hour.
Rule #2 - Take enough supplies (clothes, food, water, fire) to last you through the night. Yes, you planned on going up for a few hours before the wife gets home... but guess what, that guy you are with broke down and we don't leave people! You’re spending the night or repairing a rig that can last all night. (Please note: lighters don’t work the same in high altitude).
Rule #3 - MEDICATION! This goes along with rule #2. If you or any of your passengers take any sort of medication, make sure you bring it! Before you take someone, ask them if they take any medication and tell them to bring extra. There is NOTHING worse than hearing there is a broken down vehicle with a kid in it, that doesn't have an inhaler.
These three rules will keep you and your passengers alive. These three rules will keep you breathing until you are found. Guess what.... we still need to find you!
Rule #4 - Let someone know EXACTLY where you are going and when you plan to be back. We call this a check in. It’s better to do a check in with someone in the hobby like an off-road group or other wheelers, but none the less, check in with someone. It's great to tell your spouse or mom, but they typically don't know who to contact that can actually get to you. Missing persons reports, police and standard rescue teams can't get where we can.
Rule #5 - Communication. So you and your group are stuck. You have a CB radio that barely works with the jeep next to you and a cell phone. You are either staying put or walking out. Staying put means you are waiting to be rescued when your check in realizes you haven't come back and coordinates a rescue. Walking out means you are walking out to reach cell service and call for help. Walk out in a buddy system (not alone) and GPS your location before you leave if possible. Use Google to drop a pin of your location or a location as close to you as possible. When you finally get cell service, you need to be short and precise of where you are, what you need and who you’re with.
I am in no way an expert at survival and the list can go on, of what you should take with you. We didn't even touch recovery gear (winch, recovery points, tree savers, tow ropes, tarp etc). The point of this post is to alleviate the simple mistakes that most of us see every single year and to raise awareness of how dangerous our hobby can be through the winter, if not prepared.
A great resource in Colorado, if something should happen to you or a friend, is to join Colorado 4X4 Rescue and Recovery. Spend a little time in the group and educate yourself on what is needed for the group to rescue you. This is the most organized and most capable group that can get to you immediately.
Be safe and have fun everyone!!!