Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How to Prepare for being Stranded In Your Car

As I sit safely in my hotel room hundreds of miles from the current state of emergency at home in Atlanta, I can't help but think about my friends, colleagues and neighbors who spent literally 6-12 hours in their cars on the various highways in our commuter-centric city stranded by a snow/ice storm and bad timing.

The weatherpersons predicted the storm would hit south of the city and only a light dusting would occur on the north side. So, schools weren't closed and people commuted to work as usual. By mid afternoon, it became clear that the front would hit the city and schools were closed early. Subsequently, thousands of office workers hit the roads to go pick up or be home for their children. And the snow came down.What resulted was gridlock, accidents and students stranded at schools and daycares overnight. Motorists eventually ran out of gas, abandoned their cars and took to the streets to walk home or find some shelter. And Southern hospitality shined on. A FaceBook group was formed so people could match resources with need. Total strangers ventured out bringing people back to warm homes and hot meals. Home Depot opened its doors across the city allowing people to find shelter, as did grocery stores and gas stations and drug stores. Prayers by the thousands were offered up.

This morning it is still a mess and I'm not sure I'll even make it home on my 6 p.m. rescheduled flight, but I sit here very proud of my fellow Atlantans and their response to this crisis. So far as I know they have not plundered the places who have offered shelter. Violence and crime are non existent in the news coverage. It has just been a response of love, concern and hospitality. That's why the call us the city to busy to hate.

As I pray for and check on my friends back home, I wonder what it would be like to be stranded for hours in a car. In gridlock. In snow and ice. Alone. Or worse, with my kids. I am a big fan of preparedness. This is why I always have a big bag with me - you never know what you are gonna need! I'd like to think that would help a little in this terrible situation.

A while back I posted about how to winterize your vehicle (not car maintenance but how to stock it) for winter. Now, I think I'd add to that list. Like a back up cell phone charger, since the mobile phone has been a lifeline to so many during this ordeal.
Below are some of the standard things I try to keep in my vehicle year-round to be prepared for come what may:
  • Ponchos for everyone
  • Umbrella
  • First aid kit
  • Blanket/large towel
  • Paper & pencil/pen
  • Car games for kids
  • Notecards, tape, scissors, tissue, bag (for last minute gift wrap)
  • Tissues, paper towels
  • Wipes
  • Trash bags
  • Gallon zip lock bags (in case of illness and to hold toy collections)
  • Extra iPhone charger / camera charger
  • Spark plugs
  • Hair brush and pony tail holders (for pulling kids hair back on way to activities)
  • Change
  • Cups
  • Flashlights
  • Extra pull ups
  • Change of clothes for  little kids
  • Utensils 
  • Travel potty (a small bucket for emergencies)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Travel size powder, deodorant, toothbrush in glove box
  • Earplugs
  • Nuts or granola bars
  • Extra socks for my little guy
  • Ice scraper
  • Hats, gloves and a scarf for everyone
I try to keep it all organized with back of seat organizers, those storage bags you can suck the air out of for under seats, seat organizers that go under car seats, a stocked backpack that always stays in the car and strategic use of the glove box, cubbies and seat pockets.

I also never leave the house or work without a supply of drinks and snacks. What am I missing? What would you want in your car in a 12 hour gridlock?