This post is by Bernie Carr,
Just before New Year, we went on a road trip to visit family. After checking traffic and weather conditions, and finding no issues along the route, we set out. While driving on the freeway, we noticed traffic began to slow down. We thought it was typical holiday delays until the traffic stopped completely.
We checked Google Maps and it showed a slowdown, a red area, in front of us. The automated voice said an accident was up ahead, and we now have a 35 minute delay. Well, we thought, “OK, then we’ll just have to deal with it.” As time passed, the time delay shown on Google Maps just kept getting longer. Still it showed an accident.
After an hour and a half of waiting, we were getting worried. We had not seen any police or ambulance vehicles. Drivers were getting desperate and driving on the shoulder, causing even more problems.
Using my phone, I checked for traffic reports on the internet. I found out the freeway was completely shut down. It was not snowing where we were driving, but up ahead, snow was falling heavily. Several accidents had happened and officials decided to shut down the entire freeway.
I found out many people who were further along the freeway had been stranded for four to five hours. Drivers went on Twitter indicating they had to shut down their car to save gas, but were now freezing because they could not keep the heater on. Many travelers did not have water or food in their car and their kids were hungry.
How do you prepare for this?
Getting stranded can happen to anyone, so it’s best to be prepared just in case.
Your car survival kit
Make sure you have a car survival kit that contains:
- Bottled water
- Energy bars
- Extra blankets, gloves, scarves to keep you warm in case you are stranded in cold weather
- First aid kit
- Seat belt cutter/window breaker tool
- Flashlight with batteries
- Matches or lighters
- Ice scraper
- Umbrella and other rain gear
- Paper maps
- Travel-John disposable urinal
- Toilet paper/baby wipes
- Trash bags
- Emergency clothes
Your car kit should have:
- Tire chains
- Tire sealant
- Road flares or safety triangles
- Jumper cables
If you have children, it’s even more important to have provisions. Include extra diapers, baby wipes, toys to keep them entertained. If you have a pet traveling with you, make sure you also have extra water and food for your pet.
Plan alternative routes
Plan your route ahead of time and have alternate directions in case. Keep paper maps in case you lose connection to GPS.
Try other apps
I also learned Google maps and other programs do not always give accurate information when there is a freeway shutdown. Download alternatives to Google maps such as Mapquest or Waze.
Whether you’re driving your normal commute or heading out of a road trip, there is always a possibility of getting stranded due to weather, accident or other disasters. Now is a good time to get your car survival plan in place.