Emergency Preparedness Committee: Auto Preparedness

Auto Preparedness. You might be caught in your car when a disaster strikes or your car may be your only hope to reach safety. You might be stranded for hours, even days, without access to any significant help. Always have some comfort and basic emergency supplies stowed away and check them intermittently. Make sure they are portable in case you need to abandon your car. The amount of food, water and supplies needed varies based on the size and needs of individual families. Always carry a cell phone if for no other reason than to call for help.

Be sure your car is always in good working order. You could easily need to drive several hundred miles or handle gridlock for hours. Keep a pen and a note pad in the glove compartment as information may come too quickly to memorize.

Keep your gas tank as close to full as possible. Especially during the high risk seasons. Consider the half full mark your new empty sign.

Be sure you know how to change a flat tire. Know where to find the spare and jack. Know how to use jumper cables. Regularly check your spare to be sure it’s usable.

Have the right equipment including a general tool kit, axe, crowbar, collapsible shovel, lug wrench, duct tape, jumper cables, electronic flares and a flashlight with extra batteries. Keep a knife in the glove compartment (or closer) in case you have to cut yourself from a seat belt. If your cell phone does not have a camera, carry a disposable camera… you never know when it might come in handy. Consider extra clothes, extra shoes/boots, rain gear, umbrellas and hats. You might consider a CB radio; they can be very helpful with minor disasters, but in major calamities authorities may not be listening.

Have a first aid kit in the car. Have a three-day supply of prescription medications on you or in the car. Also include items such as ibuprofen or Tylenol, Imodium and antacids. Have extra bottled water. Have an old pair of your prescription glasses or a cheap pair of magnifying glasses in the glove compartment. In case your air bag deploys have an eye wash for the chemical irritation. Keep hand sanitizers.

Consider owning a GPS system. The usual landmarks may be altered and street signs may be down. Have a compass and be sure the arrow is fluorescent. Have a portable radio in the car and regularly check the batteries. Check the radio emergency station to know if there’s massive damage and which direction is likely to be clear for passage.

Place copies of all important documents in the glove compartment including a list of your medications, their doses and the prescription number.

Consider installing bike racks or keep fold-up bikes and saddle bags in the trunk in case you need to make an immediate escape from an area of gridlock.

Keep a series of boldly printed signs for your front, side or rear windows such as: FLAT TIRE, CAR TROUBLE, OUT OF GAS AND NEED HELP, CALL POLICE.

Have a fire extinguisher in the trunk and don’t forget to check it intermittently. Bang the bottom to loosen up the powder and change the gauge.

Always have your owner’s manual, car insurance voucher and registration and a copy of your critical contact

list in the glove compartment.

Remember you may have to sleep in your car or stay at a shelter. Consider keeping inflatable pillows, air mattresses and blankets.

Very few tragedies come announced. Be proactive!

—Jan Sener