5 Disaster Evacuation Essentials: Vehicle Survival Edition

If Hurricane Sandy taught the rest of the country anything it’s that no matter how tough a city’s residents are, Mother Nature will beat us to our knees if we take her lightly. Now not all of us have a jacked up 4×4 Jeep that can survive the apocalypse but with a few purchases you can make any vehicle a formidable evacuation survivor.

When my family evacuated for Rita the roads were a disaster, people were running out of gas and walking in gridlock traffic for miles, gas stations were sold out and the situation turned desperate very quickly. Here are five things we decided we would never leave without again.

  • Roof Racks: These large racks can be found to fit the top of any car from a Hummer to a Volvo, and the great thing is you can install them in about 15 minutes. These are a great idea for storing all of the extra equipment you will need to carry in a disaster situation. Double up on food, clean water, and clothes in watertight bags and throw it on top to leave room for your passengers.
  • Snow Chains: Now some of you may live in areas that have never seen snow, but that is not the primary usage here.  Snow chains are incredible for fighting your way out of a mud pit. Simply apply them to each of your tires and watch your car become a tank. The chains really dig into the ground and provide much greater traction than your tire alone. This is a must have as the roads can be so congested an off road route may be necessary.
  • Tow Cables: Another absolute must have for disaster situations, because even a 4×4 can get stuck in a bad situation. I recommend chains or steel cable as I have seen many ropes and tethers break under the weight of a vehicle stuck in mud. These are great for assisting a friend but also if you are stuck alone standing near your car holding the tow cables in the air show that you know what you’re doing; which gives you a better chance of getting some help from a good Samaritan.
  • Fully Functional Spare: By this I mean have a spare tire that is an actual tire, not some donut that might hopefully get you to the repair shop. In a disaster the repair shop guys have already left, you CANNOT depend on professional help. Consider yourself on your own, 1 spare is good, 2 would be better; also be proficient at changing your own tires. It could be the difference between safety and a night spent sleeping on the side of the road.
  • Gas and other Gear: During the evacuation from Rita without exaggeration I saw at least 50 people run out of gas on the road.  Luckily my father’s truck had a double tank (and we barely made it) gas stations along our route were sold out for miles. A man held up a station at gunpoint to get the last few pumps; the desperation is no joke. Buy large gas cans, keep them filled in your garage, DO NOT put these on your roof rack, advertising you have gas is a bad idea.  Double up on food, water, and batteries. A road survival kit is a great way to have everything you need e.g. road flares, tools, jumper cables.
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