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Emergency Prep Review: What's Your Backup Plan?

Elizabeth A. Denton
Elizabeth A. Denton March 11, 2013 Elizabeth A. Denton is a former Business Development Manager at Arlington Transportation Partners.
ATP TAKEAWAY: Create your own scenarios -- from worst case to best case -- and prepare an emergency back-up commute plan.

Well, once again the Washington DC metro area prepared for a terrible snow storm, and nothing happened. The rainy slush that fell last Wednesday (unlike the snow seen in the photo below) was a great disappointment to many, who looked enviously to other areas that did get some snow accumulation. It may seem tempting, after this lackluster winter we have had, to give up on your emergency preparedness, but the trick about emergencies is that they are unexpected. So stay on top of anything Mother Nature could throw at us by reviewing your plan. Timing it with daylight savings is always a good idea. 

Have you ever played the “What If..?” game? "Being prepared for emergencies is as simple as taking a few moments to play the what-if game with family, friends, coworkers -- or even on your own -- and planning accordingly", observes Cynthia Kellams, volunteer program coordinator for the Arlington County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). "This can actually make for an interesting and informative commute, lunch break or dinner hour conversation. What if I got stranded in my car on the parkway during a snowstorm for six hours? What if I drove to work but can't use my vehicle to get home? What if the bicycle I use for my commute gets a flat tire? What if the train I'm riding stops and we're told to remain on it until first responders arrive? Create your own scenarios -- from worst case to best case -- and identify what you might need to cope and recover. It's all about preparing for the worst and hoping for the best."

Thinking these and similar scenarios is a good place to start your plan. If you don’t already carry water, snack bars, a flashlight, emergency blanket, boots, battery operated radio and/or extra battery or charger for cell phone in your car, start there. Request a Personalized Commute Planner from Arlington Transportation Partners, print it out, and keep it somewhere handy, like your workplace or in a bag or purse. Having an electronic version is great – until the power goes out. Similarly, keeping paper copies of your bus routes at work is a good idea, as is keeping comfortable shoes, in case you need to walk to a bus stop or Metro station instead of driving home in heels.

Having a plan and supplies in place will improve your comfort level and reduce your stress in the event of an emergency. If you know what to do ahead of time, you will be less likely to panic, and you can help others from panicking as well. Tuesday, March 12 is Virginia's Tornado Drill. Use the date as a prompt to get started or review your plans. Visit the Arlington County Office of Emergency Management website for more tips in making a plan, and contact Arlington Transportation Partners for information on commute options.

Tags: Employer, Telework, Transit


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