Disaster Driving

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After almost every disaster, search and rescue teams find victims who might have survived if they had known whether to stay with or leave their cars. The following tips should be remembered by drivers in various types of emergencies. The most important advice to remember is not to panic.

Disaster DrivingEarthquake: Stay in the car. Bring the car to a halt as soon as is safely possible, and then remain in the car until shaking stops. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, overpasses and utility wires. After quaking stops, proceed cautiously avoiding bridges and other elevated structures that could have been damaged by the quake.

Hurricane: Evacuate early. Flooding can begin well before a hurricane nears land. Plan to evacuate early and keep a full tank of gas during hurricane season. Make arrangements to stay inland until the storm has passed. Avoid driving coastal or low-lying roads.

Flood: Get out of the car. Never attempt to drive through water on a road. Water can be deeper than it appears and water levels can rise quickly. Wade through floodwaters only if water is not flowing rapidly and only in water no higher than your knee. Attempt to get to higher ground.

Tornado: Get out of the car. A car is the least safe place to be during a tornado. Leave it and find shelter in a building. If there are no safe place structures nearby, lie flat in a ditch with your arms over your head.

Blizzard: Stay in the car. Avoid driving in severe winter storms. If you are caught in a storm and your car becomes immobilized, stay in the vehicle and await rescue. Do not attempt to walk from your car unless you can see a definite safe haven at a reasonable distance. Disorientation during blizzards comes rapidly. Turn the heat on for brief periods. Leave a down-wind window open to avoid build-up of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow. Exercise occasionally by clapping hands and moving around. Leave dome light on as a signal for rescuers. Sleep one at a time only.

Emergency supplies to keep in the car: Blanket, sleeping bag, booster cables and tools, bottled water, canned fruits and nuts, can opener, necessary medication, shovel, rain gear and extra clothing, traction mats or chains, first aid kit, a 1lb. coffee can, matches and candle, and a flashlight.