Finally, we have an exemplary story where people used their heads to stay safe and survive a situation that could have easily turned deadly.

This past Sunday, a group of six family members from northwestern Nevada took their Jeep Wrangler into the backcountry to enjoy a ride through the snow. But after the vehicle turned over, slid down a bank and landed upside down in a crevice, their trip took a horrific turn. James Glanton, 34, his girlfriend, Christina McIntee, 25, and the four children accompanying them, ages 3 to 10, could have perished on that first night of the emergency, as temperatures plummeted to 21 below zero.

But Glanton used some creative thinking to keep his family safe from the intense cold. He built a fire outside of the Jeep, heated stones, and placed them in the spare tire inside the vehicle as to serve as a space heaters. After the family was missed Sunday night, hundreds of rescuers (including other family members) spent the next 48 hours trying to find them.

On Monday, authorities received some encouraging “pings” from Glanton’s phone. But since the cell service was so spotty in this remote area, the Civil Air Patrol had to employ its cell phone forensics experts. This work narrowed the search area, and the family was found around noon on Tuesday. No one died, or even had any signs of frostbite. They were simply cold and dehydrated, but otherwise in astounding condition. One of the most remarkable things to consider from this story is that there were young children involved, including two 4-year-olds and one 3-year-old.

Glanton and McIntee, along with their two children and McIntee’s niece and nephew, were taken to Pershing General Hospital. Dr. Doug Vacek of Pershing General remarked that the family was doing “very well.”

“They just expressed that they’re really happy and they’re going to enjoy this Christmas.”

What They Did Right
The most important thing the family did was to stay with the vehicle. Using heated stones to keep the vehicle cabin warm was incredibly resourceful and clever. Given the brutally cold temperatures and the remote setting, walking out could have killed everyone involved. They also had a small amount of food and water and heavy winter clothing, which was better than having nothing at all.

What They Did Wrong
Travelling in the snowy backcountry, with a vehicle full of kids and minimal emergency supplies, could have easily been the death of them all. Let’s use this as a cautionary tale about the emergencies that winter can dish out. If you’re driving in cold weather in a remote location, you’d better be carrying sleeping bags, food, water, tools, and supplies in your vehicles. And dress appropriately for the weather. It’s better to have too much stuff than to get caught without it, especially in the cold.