I've learned that it doesn't matter where you live—in a disaster-prone region or not—evacuations happen. This week, in our tiny Vermont area, it was a derailed gas car. Obviously, as I write, in Southern California it's the wildfires. In coastal regions, it's hurricanes. No matter what the emergency, people need to be prepared. I've looked at various sites that give advice on how to prepare for evacuations, and the guidelines are pretty simple. The message: We all need to be prepared. The very first thing you need to know is whether you have time to make preparations or if your evacuation is immediate. Now, long before you are asked to leave, make sure you know your evacuation routes and what media outlets you will turn to for updates and information. Never, ever take a shortcut if you are evacuated because those routes may be blocked. If you have time, secure your home by unplugging all electrical equipment except freezers and refrigerators, unless there is a risk of flooding. If you need to gather disaster supplies, do so. Check out our article, "Assembling Your Disaster Kit". Your best option is to have disaster supplies on hand and ready in case of a rapid evacuation. These supplies include key banking information, prescriptions and medical supplies, water and sturdy clothing. Keep a full tank of gas in the car as gas stations may be closed or empty. Have a battery-powered radio on hand. Let people know where you will go in case of an emergency and make plans with friends or relatives who can provide you with a safe place to stay. For more information, look at the Red Cross, FEMA or FLASH web sites. It makes sense for all of us, no matter where we live.
Since this is winter and we hear a lot of stories every winter about people being stranded in snow and ice storms, a kit should be put together for the car.
First, keep your gas tank at least 1/2 full so you can keep warm for an extended period of time. Turn off the engine after the interior of the car is warm. When it starts chilling off, restart until warm again.
Keep a blanket or afghan in the trunk of your car to cover up with.
Most sporting goods stores sell hand and foot warmers. Some need to use lighter fluid, but others you just bend or twist to activate and will keep your hands and feet warm for hours. They're smallbut do a great job and they're quite inexpensive.
Make sure you have caps and gloves handy in the trunk in case you didn't wear any when you went out expecting to be gone only a few hours and not spending extended time in your car.
Get a good flashlight. One that shines both white light and red light is good.
Keep a jug of water in the trunk and some of those fold-up cups they sell at sporting goods stores in the fishing area. You will need to keep hydrated.