With 128.3 million people commuting to work and traveling to leisure activities in the United States each year, as a nation, we spend a lot of time in our cars. In the event disaster were to strike while you are behind the wheel, would you be prepared?
How to prepare for emergencies that occur while you are in your car
Although I don’t drive, I could be riding in a car or a firetruck when a disaster strikes. If a large-scale disaster occurs while you are in a vehicle, first responders could be delayed in reaching you, due to increased demand or limited accessibility. In this case, you may need to respond and maintain self-sufficiency for at least three days. To be safe, prepare your vehicle so that you could potentially use it for shelter, first aid, food, water and sanitation. If you use public transportation, preparations should extend to a Go-Bag. I’m not big on public transportation.
Since you might have to ‘bug out’ if disaster strikes, doing so would be easier if you have a vehicle that has high ground clearance and could potentially handle rough terrain. We are not suggesting you purchase a new car for disaster preparation. But the next time you shop for one, you might want to consider how well it could perform in such a situation. To escape the path of Hurricane Irma in Florida earlier this fall, for example, thousands of residents faced gridlock along Interstate 95 in what was one of the largest mass evacuations in U.S. history. To avoid the crunch, many ignored driving decorum altogether, heading off road and ignoring signs and signals. If a disaster strikes while you are in a car, remain calm. Take a deep breath and obey the rules of the road, which will help keep you safe.
Shelter in Place (SIP).
In some cases, you might need to SIP in your car. In one Southern California mountain community, for example, a pair of avalanches dumped 15-foot high snowdrifts on the highway, effectively cutting off traffic and stranding motorists for 18 hours, until officials finally cut a swath through the massive drifts.
How to prepare your car
- Keep your gas tank full, or at least at half, in case disaster strikes.
- Check tires (make sure your spare is in good repair and properly inflated)
- Regularly do routine maintenance to make sure your electrical system, fluid levels, and lights are operational.
- Stow jumper cables, flares, and flashlights.
- Carry a cell phone charger.
- Store cat litter or sand for tire traction in adverse conditions.
What to Stow in Your Trunk or Go-Bag
- A whistle.
- Extra clothing and comfortable shoes. These will come in handy if you are forced to abandon your vehicle.
- First aid kit. Include a first aid book, sterile tape, gauze, elastic bandages, antiseptic wipes, safety pins, sterile gloves, tweezers, scissors, alcohol-free cleansing wipes, gauze, antiseptic cream, and distilled water.
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Calorie and protein-dense non-perishable items. And don’t forget about food for your pets!
- Map and compass, in case you need to travel to unfamiliar territory. Cell phone and Internet service could be compromised.
- Matches or a lighter
- Solar Blankets. These are a great choice because they are easy to store and radiate heat.
Safe Driving Tips. If you are on the road during or after an emergency, remember these tips:
- Never drive through flooded areas. Six inches of water can disable or stall a vehicle. A foot of water is sufficient to float several cars.
- Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
- If a power line falls on your car, you are at risk of electrical shock. Stay inside until a trained person arrives and removes the wire.
- If there is an explosion or other factor that makes it difficult to control the vehicle, pull over, stop the car and set the parking brake.
- If the emergency could impact the physical stability of the roadway avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards.
About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System
Check back next week, as we will focus on the second post in our three-part series about disaster preparation: emergency safety at home (or in your doghouse). A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.