Los Angeles, Calif., was recently named as the number one traffic-congested city in the country. This dubious honor is no surprise to southern Californians, especially to those who commute on a daily basis. The freeways are constantly crowded, so planning driving routes around peak commute times is a way of life here in the southland. Recognizing the amount of commuters, ‘The Great Shakeout 2012,’ theme was devoted to disaster preparation tips for those on the road during a disastrous event. Since there is no way to predict where you will be during an earthquake, there important precautions that should be taken when driving.
• Recognize that you are in an earthquake situation. • Use your senses — it may feel like the vehicle has a problem, or the road my jolt or shake.
• Avoid bridges, overpasses, ramps, signs, building overhangs or any other hazards that may fall on your car.
• If in a parking structure, exit the car and crouch low and close to the side of the car. Do not get under the car.
• If possible, safely move to the side of the road, turn off the engine and set brake. Turn on the radio and listen for updates, warning, or advice. Keep your mind focused on safety and realize there other vehicles on the road and drivers who may panic. Stay in the vehicle until the shaking stops
• Once the shaking stops, get out of your vehicle, check passengers for injury and perform first aid if required. Do not call 911 for minor injuries because emergency responders will be busy with higher priority issues.
• Proceed home or to a shelter if possible. Remember, it may be safer to stay where you are if there is chaos on the roads. Be cautious of road damage. Stay away for bridges, do not drive through floodwaters and beware of landslides. If you are on a coastal road in an area that could potentially be a tsunami zone, drive to higher ground as quickly as possible.
• Do not, under any circumstances, drive over a downed electrical line. If a power line falls on your car, stay inside, call 911 and wait for help.
• Be prepared for aftershocks
Maintaining an emergency kit for the car will increase chances of survival after a disastrous event. Recommended items include:
• light sticks or matches
• emergency blanket
• first-aid kit
• small amount of water and non-perishable food items
• supply of medications if necessary
• pair of walking/running shoes
These items should serve as a baseline for your kit. Define your personal needs and use common sense. Maintain essential items to avoid expiration. The information provided will assist with personal preservation plans following a major disaster while in your vehicle. Start simple and add as you see fit. Consider the storage space, number of passengers, as well as the conditions you may be driving through when preparing your kit.
These prepatory measures are simple and knowing you are ready will be gratifying, particularly when confronted with the challenge to survive a major shaker.
Remember, it is not if a major disaster happens, but when.