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Motor Vehicle Preparedness

If a disaster occurred while you were driving, would you know what to do? Making the wrong decision could be fatal.

These are some safety tips for drivers when they find themselves in different types of emergencies The most important thing for you to remember when faced with an emergency is DON'T PANIC.


Stay in your vehicle
Avoid driving in severe winter storms. If you are caught in a storm and get stuck, stay in the vehicle and await rescue. Do not attempt to walk from the vehicle unless you can see a definite safe haven that is close. A visible light in the distance does not necessarily indicate a safe haven.

Turn the vehicle's engine on for brief periods to provide heat and recharge the battery. Periodically make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow and always leave a downwind window open slightly when running the engine to avoid a buildup of deadly carbon monoxide.

Generate body heat by not remaining in one position for long, clap your hands, stomp your feet, or just move around a bit. Avoid exposure or overexertion from trying to dig or push your car out.

Listen to the radio or television for the latest National Weather Service Bulletins on severe weather for the area in which you will be driving.


Avoid Driving
Gale force winds can easily push a car out of its lane of travel or off the road. The larger the vehicle, the more susceptible it will be to the force of the wind. Avoid driving when gale force winds are predicted or present. If you are driving when high winds occur, pull safely off of the road and seek shelter in a building. Being in a parked car is safer than being outside, however, being in a building is safer than being in the car.

During and after periods of high winds, be cautious of debris in the roadway and downed or low hanging utility wires.


Stay out of parked vehicles
During hot weather, heat can build up rapidly in a closed or nearly closed car. Children, the elderly, and pets can die from heat stroke in a matter of minutes when left in a closed car

Never leave anyone or any pets in a parked car during periods of high temperatures.


Get out of your vehicle
Never attempt to drive through water on a road. Two feet of water can float most cars, and not much more will float a large pickup. The water can be deeper and moving faster than it appears, and water levels may rise quickly.

Water weighs 62.4 lbs. per cubic foot and flows downstream 6 -12 miles an hour. A foot of water will exert about 500 Ibs. of force against a vehicle. Floodwater can erode roadways and hide sections of road and bridges that have been swept away.

Wade through floodwater only if it is no higher than your knees and is not flowing rapidly.

If your car stalls in floodwater, get out quickly and move to higher ground. The water level may still be rising and the car could be swept away at any moment.


Stay in your vehicle
Pull to the side of the road, bring the vehicle to a halt as soon as safely possible, and shut off the ignition. If possible, stop clear of buildings, utility wires, and overpasses/bridges. Also be sure to stop clear of any steep slopes or cliffs where loose rocks may land on your vehicle. Because of the vehicle's suspension, it will shake violently, but it will be a safe place to stay.

When the shaking has stopped, proceed cautiously, avoiding bridges, overpasses, or any other elevated structure that might have been damaged during the quake. Be aware of utility wires laying on the road or hanging low over it and be prepared to respond to aftershocks.


Stay informed
During emergencies such as severe weather, hazardous material spills or earthquakes, keep a radio or television on and wait for further information and instructions If evacuation is recommended, the area to be evacuated will be announced along with the routes to be used, the location of evacuation shelters, and other related information.


To keep in your vehicle
All personal and work vehicles should be equipped with supplies, which could be useful in any emergency. The items you keep in your vehicle will depend on location, season, climate, and personal needs. Long trips, especially when severe weather may be encountered, require additional items.

Items that should always be carried:

Blanket[s], jumper cables, tools [to do minor repairs], first aid kit, flashlight, flares or warning triangle, work gloves, bottled water, change [for pay phones].

Additional items could include, but are not limited to:

Maps of the areas around your routes of travel, sleeping bag[s], canned food/nuts, can opener, shovel, traction mats/chains, rain gear, extra clothes and shoes, warm gloves, necessary medications, personal hygiene items, paper and pen, spare pair of glasses, paper towels, matches, candles