Monday, June 4, 2012

There's no place like home

Preparedness sites often speak of GOOD (Get Out of Dodge), meaning an escape plan for fleeing the house and reaching a remote safe location in case of hurricane or other mass evacuation. The problem with such plans is the "mass evacuation" part; roads become quickly clogged and a single accident can stop hundreds of thousands of people from going anywhere.

Few sites ever mention the reverse problem - going home during a crisis. Unless your home is in the immediate path of danger, like a fire or beach house in a hurricane, experts agree that it's the best place to be for the average person during an emergency. Hopefully your home is supplied with tools, food, warm clothes, etc that you'll need. It's a place you're familiar with and are comfortable with. [There are very few with a well-stocked retreat cabin in the country with running water and game to hunt, etc]

Take a look at Your Get Home Plan, by J.A.F., a typical urban commuter for Washington DC who every day must drive, take a train and ride the subway. Not unlike many workers in NYC.  Ideas include:
1. Have a good pair of walking shoes at your office. I got horrible blisters once walking a distance in my dress shoes in DC.
2. Have a go-kit with food & water for the trip home, along with a hat, suntan lotion, etc in case you have to walk when the train or subway is not working.
3. Learn alternate routes.  Can you use a bus or taxi? Do you know which neighborhoods are safe to walk in and which are not?
4. Find a place to stay. Is there a friend who lives near the office that you can stay overnight with?  Do you have a change of clothes if forced to sleep at the office because you have no-where else?

During the North East power black-out a decade ago or so, there was no commuting (no trains, no subways) and no hotels (electric key cards on most doors). Most shops with electric cash registers could not sell food or were forced to toss food with no refrigeration. I had no evacuation plan at the time but I did have a go kit (this was after 9-11).  So I slept at the office in Manhattan and ate my power bars.

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