Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Are You Prepared?

I'm not talking about being prepared for the holidays. Or for your next craft show. Are you prepared for winter storm weather? Are you prepared for a natural disaster? If you're warm and safe right now, it's the perfect time to start planning for what you would do in case of an emergency...of any kind!

I experienced the nasty winter storm a few years back that left me stranded on the freeway for 7 hours on the evening commute. I was carpooling with a co-worker when the winter storm hit. A bus had an accident and blocked all the lanes. I was one mile from my exit and there was no way to go around. It was an insane night. I had left the office at 5pm to make the 20 mile trip home. When I finally made it there, it was after midnight!

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For hours, we sat in the car trying to keep warm, taking turns with the engine off and no heat to conserve gas. People were out of their cars talking to each other. I made a snowman between the lanes. It was annoying at first, then kinda fun..like a snow-day from school. Then it became scary. We worried that it would be several more hours before we ever got home. We didn't have food or water or anything to keep us entertained.

At 11:00pm I got sick of waiting (and being hungry) and decided to follow some of the other folks on the freeway. I got out (in my thin work slacks and high heeled boots) and I walked down the freeway toward my exit. When I finally made it up there (about 3/4 mile) I saw the bus, the fire trucks and aid cars and the police. They had the entire freeway cordoned off. They were yelling at people to go back to their cars and wait. I yelled back that my exit was right there... I could just walk off. It's not like it was blocking a foot path, right?

The cop told me if I didn't go back to my car he'd arrest me. Nice. So I started walking back. But I was cold and tired and just wanted to get home. I saw some people veering off the freeway and I followed. I walked down an embankment, over a fence, thru the brush and ended up on a back road.

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Let's be straight--I would NEVER do that again. I was lucky. And now, I'm prepared. I just finished filling up my emergency car kit and have a small kit in my home. The car kit includes (among many other things) warm socks, gloves, hand crank radio and flashlight, sturdy shoes and solar blankets. The kit is one backpack and a small bag in case I need to "Grab and Go". I also bought a window hammer and seat belt cutter...just in case ;)

At home, by my bed, I have sturdy shoes and a flashlight. In the garage (right outside my door) is plenty of non-perishable food and enough water to last 3 days. I've planned my emergency route and confirmed it with my family and my boyfriend. That way, if we get split up, we know where we'll be headed.

This may be completely unnecessary. The bars of food and water in my car may just stay there until they expire. But I will never do that "stranded-on-the-freeway-in-winter" again! Or at least, if I do get stranded, I'll be warm...and full :)

Being prepared doesn't mean being paranoid. You don't need to dig out a bomb shelter. This isn't the big Y2K freak-out. No need to run to the hills and stock up on ammo. ;)

Check out your local Red Cross and other organizations for help with putting together your own kit. Know your emergency evacuation routes. Have your emergency contacts on hand and make sure you designate someone outside of your area as a point of contact. Get to know your area and what possible natural disasters could arise. For example, mine would be floods, snowstorm and earthquakes..and I suppose a volcano eruption.


So...are you prepared? I'd love to hear any of your tips on what to do in certain emergency situations. Or maybe you have a story like mine to share?

5 comments:

  1. haha they were talking about Mt Rainier erupting this morning on the radio. NOT COOL!

    i'm gonna get on this (i swear!). i've never had a kit -- even when i lived in snowy mcsnowsland.

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  2. Lol! Ya the local news loves to sensationalize! I mean "Snow-vember"? C'mon! And every time we have a little earthquake like yesterday they remind us that we're due for the big one and that my rainier is secods away from blowing it's top! I due remember the last big eruption when I was a kid. And I had an evacuation route planned when I lived in pacific. Since you're closer to it, it's a very good idea to have two possible routes ;)

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  3. Haha I love typing on my phone! Makes me look like an idiot!!

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  4. This reminds me of several years ago when I was in college and had just started dating my now husband. We were driving around backroads in a rainstorm and thought nothing of it. We were in his big Ford truck and it was a beast, right? As we turn into a dirt road to turn around and head back to town, we realize that we're stuck. No amount of pushing, grinding back and forth was getting this truck out of the rut. We get out and walk about 1 mile to the nearest gas station to use the pay phone. The pay phone is in the gas station and the gas station is closed. Dumb! We ended up spending the night in his truck, totally soaking wet and having to hitch a ride the next morning. This was before we had cell phones so that was zero help! Needless to say we didn't do that again :)

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  5. oh that is not good! Reminds me of that story of the father leaving the two kids in the car in the winter while he walked off to get help. So cold! Hopefully you guys had a heater! And thank goodness for the invention of cell phones, eh?

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