The weather forecast is grim as it reveals a hurricane approaching your area. We know that hurricane tracking isn’t always precise, but if your home is potentially within the affected zone, you need to prepare yourself and your car for a safe escape.
Prepare to Leave
With time being of the essence, here’s how to make your move as quickly as possible:
1. Determine where to go. The degree of preparation required will depend a lot on where you plan to wait out the storm. If you’re traveling to a shelter across town, fill the fuel tank, check tire pressure and replenish the emergency kit. For longer trips, such as staying in a hotel hours away or with a friend across the state, you’ll need to do more comprehensive planning. Map out a primary route and several alternatives.
2. Replenish all fluids. Your safe place destination may only be 100 miles away, but it might take many hours to get there, especially if traffic is heavy and the alternate routes are also busy or detoured. Such delays can take a toll on your car. Check all fluids before you leave, including oil, brake, transmission, radiator and windshield, and replenish as necessary. If worn, replace the windshield wipers.
3. Examine the battery. Ensure that the car battery is clean and in working order. Remove any dust build-up and secure clamps to the proper post. Use a multimeter to verify the battery has a sufficient charge. Replace if necessary, and bring a set of jumper cables with you.
4. Check your tires. Your tires should have sufficient air in them before you head out. If they are showing signs of wear, rotate them. Check your spare tire and ensure the jack and lug wrench are in place. A flat-tire repair kit, gloves, wheel wedges, flares and reflective triangles are also useful to have.
5. Bring flashlights and batteries. A working flashlight with backup batteries is a must. Along with your fully charged cellphone, bring a USB cable and a backup cellphone battery or charger.
6. Complete a walkaround. With someone assisting, perform a walkaround of the car, checking that all lights are working. These include headlights, daytime running lights, fog lamps, turn signals, brake lights and, if you’re towing a trailer, trailer lights. Extra fuses can come in handy. Store these in your glove box.
7. Load with care. Bring only the items you need with you. Evenly distribute the weight throughout the vehicle for ideal handling and control. For every extra 100 pounds in your car, fuel economy falls by about 1 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
8. Hit the road. Bring insurance documentation for your car and house. Head out as soon as you have secured your home, finalized arrangements for your pets and packed your vehicle. Track the hurricane through the radio or your cellphone in the event the storm changes course or increases intensity.
At Your Destination
When you arrive at your destination, secure your car. Park it away from potentially falling trees, rising water and flying debris. The last thing you want is a flood-damaged vehicle.
Once the threat passes, verify that it is safe to return home. Prepare your car for the return trip, repeating the previous steps as necessary.
Check out all the safety products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on hurricane tracking and vehicle preparation, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.