Emergency Preparedness and Snowmegeddon 2014

by Kevin on January 30, 2014

We’ve heard this story before. It was 2011 and ice shut down — and I meantĀ shut down — a majority of Atlanta for four whole days.

In response the city purchased more salt trucks, more scrapers, and supposedly built a plan.

As these things typically go there was either an inadequate plan, no plan, or a poorly communicated plan this week when “snowmegeddon” ran rampant over the southeast United States. When there is an inch of ice on the roads inĀ Mobile, Alabama… the city on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico… you know there are going to be problems. As much fun as northerners like to poke at southerners for letting “2 or 3 inches of snow” destroy major cities we’re talking about serious problems. Southern states don’t have the equipment to handle winter storms, and their citizens don’t drive vehicles designed for this type of weather.

Plus I’d love to see a northerner drive a vehicle with “all weather” general tires on ice-covered roads. Ice is no joke!

Atlanta was in gridlock. Birmingham as well. Nashville got lucky and missed the weather, but Knoxville traffic was bad as well. I haven’t heard any reports of people sleeping in their cars in Knoxville, but that absolutely happened in Atlanta and Birmingham.

Cars abandoned. Kids stuck at school. Teachers continuing to care for them like their own. Churches, offices, and other buildings welcoming the public in and providing them a warm, dry place to sleep.

All of this got me thinking: am I really ready for an emergency?

Preparing for Winter Emergencies

As I took inventory of our home and vehicles I discovered we were woefully prepared for a true winter emergency.

Yes, we had food in the pantry and could survive even without a working heat source for several days. But we have no winter boots and no snow shovel. (It’s east Tennessee! “Snow” means you can still see the grass sticking through, usually.)

What concerned me most after reading all of the stories south of us were our vehicles. I made sure our cars were gassed up before the storm hit, but I did a poor job planning besides that.

  • We need emergency warmth sources like sleeping bags and blankets in each car.
  • We need emergency items for our 6 and a half month old. Basics like diapers, wipes, some form of food we could crush up and give to him if we had to, etc.
  • We need emergency footwear. A simple snow boot goes a long way even in just a couple of inches of snow. I’ve walked in poor conditions in my dress shoes before; it ruins the shoes, keeps your feet frozen and wet, and leaves you at risk of falling due to having no traction.

These are basic items in my eyes.

Coming up with a solid plan for these situations takes a little forethought and extra money. But isn’t it worth it to know you could be trapped for several hours in your car in freezing temperatures (as many were this week) and not completely freak out?

I challenge all of us to go through our homes and check on our emergency preparedness. I remember back in the Blizzard of ’93 how we ran a fire in the fireplace for 4 or 5 days straight just to stay warm because the power was out that long. We had enough food to survive and didn’t have to risk getting out amid downed power lines to go to the grocery store. We had an old camping stove that still worked in order to heat up food. We invited our neighbors across the street to stay with us because they didn’t have a fireplace.

How ready are you for the next big winter emergency? Wouldn’t it be nice to prepare between now and then?

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