A double threat: Driving and disasters

Photo: Marvin Nauman, FEMA
Disasters can happen when you’re on the road. Make sure you’re prepared for disasters where and whenever they may happen.

If you’re heading on a trip, find out what disasters are likely to happen where you’re driving. Have emergency supplies in your car. Common supplies include food and water, a first-aid kit, flashlights, batteries and a battery-operated radio. You may also want to have an ice scraper and a bag of sand in case you find yourself in a slippery situation.

Finally, make sure your car is ready for a disaster. This means having a full tank of gas, enough air in the tires and working windshield wipers.

Here are some specific tips to help you stay safe if a natural disaster happens while you’re in a vehicle:
  • Tornadoes: Seek shelter. If there is flying debris, pull over and park.
  • Floods: Never drive in flooded areas. Water can be much deeper than it appears.
  • Landslides: Watch for fallen rocks and other signs of a landslide.
  • Earthquakes: Drive out of traffic and park away from trees and other things that may fall.
  • Wildfires: Don’t drive through heavy smoke. If you have to stop, park away from trees and bushes, leave the headlights on and turn off the car.
  • Blizzards: Pull off the road and turn on hazard lights. Run the heater and engine for 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is on, crack a window to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not leave your car unless you know where you can find shelter.
If you resume driving after a disaster, be careful to avoid downed power lines, cracks in the road and any other road hazards. Remember: It may be difficult to abandon your car, but it’s important that you don’t hesitate if the situation calls for it.

To learn more about disasters and driving, check out our Get Ready fact sheet.

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