1. Put a reflective vest in your car. If you have a family, put a couple reflective vests in your car.
I ended up leaving work at about 6:30pm on Wednesday after the snow had arrived, and most of the roadways had cleared out in the Triangle. I found hoards of people walking down sidewalks, the shoulder of the road, or in the case of one guy, right down the middle of Glenwood Ave. in North Raleigh. Not a single person was wearing any sort of reflective vest, and some of them were very hard to see.
As I ventured further toward home, I came across a pickup truck that had spun sideways at the very top of a freeway ramp (Raleigh people: the ramp that goes obnoxiously high from 440 East to 264 East). I got out of the car to give him a push, and eventually someone else came along with a 4×4 and gave him a tug. Guess what? As soon as his truck got towed away, I found myself standing at the top of a freeway ramp (way too damn high in the air) in the middle of traffic trying to get back into my car on a glare of ice, in the dark. Cars were zipping around my car, and had I slipped, I may have been run over. I was one of those idiots in the road dressed in a black jacket who nobody could see.
2. When you know it’s coming, get prepared:
At my day job I have the opportunity to interact with the general public a good bit. I was amazed how many people were completely unprepared for the storm. Stories of people abandoning their vehicles because they ran out of gas, and walking several hours to get home. People without hats or gloves or boots walking for hours in the weather.
Put together a Get Home Bag that you either leave in your car all the time, or at the very least put it in your car for a situation like this. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but a bag with a few cans of Chunky soup, bottled water, some blankets, warm hat, gloves, a couple fire starters, maybe a stove to heat the soup, and whatever else you think you need can be the difference between having a crappy night riding out the storm in your car, and getting hit and killed trying to walk home.
3. What do you have at home for supplies?
I’m not a full blown prepper. I don’t have 6 months of food in the house, and enough water to fill a swimming pool, but at home I do keep at least a weeks worth of canned/non-perishable food on hand. If you have more, great, you are doing better than I am. If you have less, you should get more. Grab a couple extra cans each time you go to the grocery store, you won’t even notice it on the grocery budget.
Those little battery phone chargers are an awesome thing to have too. Wednesday night after I finally made it home, our lights started flickering on and off in the house for a few hours, and my phone was mostly dead from checking the weather all day. Luckily the power never went totally out (although my wireless router couldn’t handle it and bit the dust. It’s tough not having wifi) but even if it did, I would have been able to get a full charge off of my little battery pack charger. Most retailers have these things for pretty cheap, and it’s a great way to ensure you are able to communicate in a localized emergency like Snowpocalypse was.
4. Stay Put!
This isn’t some “I’m from up north” machismo, but my God, if you don’t have any experience, and you aren’t prepared to venture out, stay where you are. If it means sleeping in your office one night, so be it. It’s better than freezing or getting hurt trying to walk or drive somewhere.