Last month, 77-year-old Paul Meiling from Utah was driving on a snowy side road in an isolated area of Idaho when his truck became stuck. Temperatures were well below freezing while he was stranded for days, but Meiling was able to survive by taking shelter in an abandoned farmhouse nearby and starting a fire. When he was able, he walked to an area that had cell service and called his son. He was tired, hungry, and dehydrated, but Paul Meiling was alive at the end of his ordeal. Here are some lessons that we can learn from this incident so that we can hopefully avoid a similar circumstance altogether, or survive if it we can’t.
- Meiling was on his way back home when he decided to take a detour to a summer fishing location on a road that is not maintained during the winter, his truck became high-centered and was unable to get it free. He was reported missing by his family when he didn’t return, but they were looking on his planned route since they did not know of his detour. This illustrates the importance of not only making a plan but sticking to it, and keeping material in your vehicle for getting it free such as a shovel and a bag of gravel.
- Meiling didn’t have emergency gear to shelter in his vehicle and was forced to find shelter in an abandoned house. Always have at least a blanket and some water in your vehicle.
- He started a fire to stay warm. It’s good that he had equipment to start a fire on him. But fire’s can be dangerous as well. He set the building on fire and was forced back into the cold. He found another farm building to shelter in afterward where he found 14 pieces of coal he used to stay warm, and was a little more careful with his fire.
- He was rescued after he was able to hike to a location that he could get cell service. Cell phones are responsible for countless lives being saved. Keep your cell phone on you and charged.
This time of year especially there is a theme of how most survival stories begin, with a vehicle getting stuck, and how they end, with a cell phone call. Drive carefully, be prepared, and keep your cell phone on you and charged.
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