Friday, September 7, 2012

What's in YOUR car?

How long is your daily commute? Do you live more than 5 minute's from 'town?'  If so, do you stock a 'get me home' or a 'shelter in place' kit in your vehicle? If not, perhaps you should think about it.

I lived and worked in San Francisco during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.  Many people in my office lived across the bay or south of the city. The quake occurred just before 'quitting time.' Rapid transit was shut down immediately pending inspection of the tunnel under the bay. The train schedule for parts south was canceled for the same reason.  Highways were closed pending inspections of the bridges and overpasses.  We all know about the Oakland Bay bridge, a major commuter transportation link.  The airport was shut down for safety inspections. Even the ferries did not run for a while during their dock inspections.

I was fortunate to have parked in an outdoor lot that day, rather than an underground lot -- most of the latter were immediately closed pending safety inspections. Before I left the office for home, about 1.5 miles away, I offered several people rides to my place and a couch or floor for the night. No takers -- probably folks were in denial that they were stranded for an extended period. I later heard the tale of that evening.

At first, the rent-a-guards kicked everyone out of the building. About 50 people had nowhere else to go.  Luckily, the building manager returned to work and reversed that policy, especially for those who could not use their normal means to get home.   Then the city cut power so that the infrastructure could be inspected -- no 1906 fires this time!

The company had no earthquake supplies in the building. Can you even grasp that? There were some emergency lights that came on. Luckily there was a cafeteria, which was forcibly entered. Food and drink were found for the stranded. I'm sure it was a long night in a mostly dark building with the clothes on their backs.  It was several days before travel capabilities were back -- not to 'normal' but to 'available' with a longer delay or longer route to bridges north or south of town.

Most of the 'stranded' were able to get home within 24 hours. Some carried no cash. Others had no comfy walking shoes. Most had nothing helpful in their desk drawers. Few had anything in their cars to support their needs, despite the frequent reminders of the potential -- and the numerous small quakes we had on a routine basis. What if it had been worse?
What about you? What hazards are possible at your work location? What if you needed to shelter in place for 24 hours? Do you have a desk pack that will last you 24 hours? What about in your car? A change of clothes, comfy shoes, compact blanket? How about a flashlight, bottle of water, shelf-stable meals? Don't forget first aid and hygiene supplies -- a toothbrush or wisp, unscented wipes, a little TP? You don't need to buy a fancy pre-made kit. Those tend to be heavy on the band aids and light on the everyday useful things you have around the house. How about that ugly fleece blanket from Aunt Suzie? What better sign of appreciation than to have it where you may need it to save your lives? Chef Boyardee ravioli is incredibly nutritious, inexpensive and can be eaten cold from the can in an emergency. Get the idea?

Do you travel by air frequently in your work or for pleasure? If so, what's your emergency pack for the trip? What additional items are in your suitcase in a fanny pack in case of problems?

National Preparedness Month is not just about being prepared at home.  It is about being prepared wherever you are. Your car is a good place to start.

If you have trouble thinking about what should be in your kit, lots of websites have lists. Among others are the Red Cross and the Church of Latter Day Saints. Because of their preparedness mandate, the LDS Church website has a lot of well-organized emergency preparedness guidance and it's free to all.

1 comment:

  1. You have abbreviated the name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Please don't leave out Jesus Christ.