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!
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.
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?