An emergency has been declared due to an oncoming hurricane, and the city has been ordered to be evacuated. You rush to gather a few belongings and shove them into the back of the car, grab the cat, and you, your wife and 2 kids jam in as best you can. You slam the car into reverse, take one last look at the home you’ve lived in for the last five years, then drive down the block to the freeway.

As you pull into the jammed on-ramp, as directed by the national guardsmen, you look at your gas gauge and realize you won’t be going very far. There is no way to back up or get off the freeway to fill the tank, so you get about a mile before the car runs out of gas. Your car is pushed off the freeway. along with all of your belongings, and you, the cat and the family are shoved into the back of a military transport truck.

You’ve lived in Los Angeles for years, always knowing the “Big one” could come at any time, but since the earthquake never happened, the whole concept of being prepared slipped away. One evening in the summer, the big one hits and you and your family are lucky to have survived without so much as a scratch. You get into the car, thinking you’ll drive out of the city to your aunt’s house in the country, and head on over to the gas station to fill up the almost empty tank.

Don’t Run on Empty

You’ve acted fast, so it only takes a couple of hours to get through the line of people who had the same idea, and by the time you reach the front of the line your car is on fumes. The attendant tells you “cash only” because the credit system is not working. Since you have no cash on you, the attendants push your car into the street and you have to walk through the two miles of the devastated city to get back home.

A simple, yet important task you can perform every day as you live and go about your business is simply to keep the gas tank of your car full. I make an effort to ensure that my tank never goes below three-quarters full.

After a Disaster

Think about what has happened after a disaster. One of the very first things to fail is electricity. In a hurricane, the power lines are blown down by the wind and the substations may be damage by flying debris. During an earthquake, power plants themselves may be destroyed, power lines heavily damaged and substations obliterated. Without power, most gas stations will not be able to pump fuel at all. Those that still can may charge exorbitant, “emergency special” rates to try and skim a little profit off the disaster.

The upshot of this is you will probably need to make due with the gas in the tank of your car at the time of the disaster. So believe it or not, if you make keeping your tank full every day a regular part of your life, you will have given yourself a boost towards surviving that disaster. The best news about this little hint is it does not cost extra; you have to put gas in your tank anyway.

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