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Friday, April 16, 2010

Preps: Restricted Travel

As we've stated before, in our view, Emergency Preparedness needs to focus more on limiting negative impacts to disasters than on preparing for specific events (earthquake, hurricane, etc.).  We discussed that philosophy and those Twelve Impacts in an earlier post.  You can see all of the items in the series to this point by clicking the 12 Impacts label category.

We're going to drill down into one of the twelve impacts:  Restricted Travel.

The ability to travel when, where or how you want is restricted.

This can come in many forms. It can be the result of a natural disaster destroying a bridge or roadway, and making that route impassable.  Here in Northern California, we saw the Bay Bridge shut down after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. This bridge carries 280,000 vehicles every single day between San Francisco and the East Bay (for perspective, the Brooklyn Bridge carries 137k vehicles each day).

Look what's happening right now in Europe.  A volcano in Iceland has thrown so much soot and grit into the air, it is not safe for air travelers.  It has significantly shut down Heathrow Airport, the busiest airport in the world.  All of the airports in Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland were shut down completely. The airports in Brussels, Amsterdam and Geneva were all shut down as well.

It can be the result of a government mandate, such as travel restrictions being imposed as the result of a pandemic or Shelter-In-Place orders. During times of civil unrest, governments regularly impose martial law or curfews, making it illegal to be outside of your home - even when traveling by foot.

Roadways and public travel sources can also become overburdened in the event of mass evacuations in anticipation of certain events, such as hurricanes.  We've all seen the images of bumper-to-bumper highways as people flee an upcoming emergency event.

Gasoline for your automobile may not be available. There may be disruptions in the delivery mechanisms throughout the country, or if there is a widespread power outage, the pumps might not be able to pump the gas. And there is always the possibility of shortages caused by political unrest in the oil producing regions of the world.

Possible Impacts:
  • Work may become inaccessible - Depending upon the depth and breadth of the emergency, your livelihood may be in jeopardy.
  • Medical treatment - For serious injuries or other medical emergencies (births, dialysis treatments, renewals of prescription medicines, etc.), may be inaccessible.
  • Safe retreat locations - Particularly those along heavily-traveled roadways may be inaccessible.
  • Family and friends – Others that are in danger or in need of assistance may be inaccessible.
Accept The Challenge

The keys to ensuring you are not negatively impacted by travel restrictions are to act quickly, and have multiple alternatives.  I strongly suggest reading the series of posts we did on Evacuation Plans (here, here and here).

Understanding events that surround you is a key being able to act quickly. 

Do we have the likelihood of severe gas shortages as were felt in 1973?  Gasoline supplies seem very stable right now, but skirmishes erupt in the Middle East very easily, and a new one could dramatically affect supplies.

Is there the likelihood of curfews being put in place as they are currently in Philadelphia?  If you were under 18 and living in Philly, getting to a night job would now be illegal.

If a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tornado or hurricane devastated the roadway infrastructure in your area, would you be able to replenish your life-sustaining medications and procedures (dialysis, etc.)?

Remember PACE - Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency.  Identify the items for which you MUST travel, and plan for multiple solutions to any of the impacts which may come your way.

Image courtesy of Shinoda28107

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Unknown said...

Two thoughts on travel.

1. If you don't have a passport you will have a hard time leaving continental US. You need a passport to get on a plane or commercial boat going anywhere and to travel to Mexico by car. Google is inconclusive about Canada by car. Well maybe by slipping across a border or getting on a personal boat is possible but that is another topic. Get a passport so if you absolutely need to (crazy stuff can happen) you could spend a couple months somewhere else. A limited possibility but for a hundred bucks and a small hassle well worth preparing for.

2. If you travel over any real distance have access to a decent amount of money. Things happen like storms or volcanoes or transmissions going out far from home. We got stuck in an airport in Philadelphia for 3 days last Christmas time. I recall a heartbreaking story from that time about a young gal who was stuck in another airport with 3 kids and she was broke. Her folks couldn't put money in her account and there isn't a Western Union in the airport. You need access to money!

Having 10k in cash or a dozen Krugerrands or a gazillion ounces of silver at home will not pay for a bed to sleep in and meals until you can catch a flight or get a new transmission when you get stuck in some random place. Have a solid reserve in an account you can access with a check or a card in your wallet. If you can be responsible with it a credit card with a balance of say 2k or more (depending on your travel patterns) is an answer.

Unknown said...

I meant limit not balance in regard to the credit card.

Chief Instructor said...

TOR, great points about the passports. I've got two family members that don't have them. That needs to be addressed.

The money issue is paramount. You are screwed if you are penniless. You know my old saying, "Money gives you options." Never more true than when you're stranded somewhere other than at home.

Lucas @SurvivalCache said...

Great article as usual Chief,

One of the aspects travel that I always warn people about is having backup documents.

You should have AT LEAST one photocopy of all of your important documents when traveling, or in general for that matter.

The national guardsman or cop at the road block you are trying to get through is not going to buy your story about having "lost" your passport or drivers license.

Chief Instructor said...

Lucas, absolutely! We've recommended important docs be included in every BOB for emergencies. It's a great point for pre-planned travel (i.e., vacation, etc.) as well.