Friday, December 04, 2009

Mass transit preparedness: Being ready while on the go

From subways to buses, mass transit is a great form of transportation. But with so many logistics involved, the systems can sometimes run into delays or problems that can leave you stranded, stuck or even facing an emergency.

So what can you do to prepare yourself for these unexpected situations? Prepare yourself both physically and mentally.

Whether you are a regular mass transit commuter, a tourist or someone who is taking a trip, it’s a good idea to pack a small safety kit that includes things like a small first aid kit, flashlight, moist towelettes or hand sanitizer, medication, paper, a pen or pencil, and maps of the area. In addition, water, snacks and a charged cell phone can be useful items to have while waiting out an emergency.

Mentally, it is important to be composed, focused and alert for any dangers that may arise when you are on mass transit. It’s okay to have a book, newspaper or charged iPod to pass the time. But remember to be on alert for any emergency updates or instructions that may come up. If you are listening to music, don’t put the volume on too loud. Not only is it impolite to other passengers, but you may miss hearing crucial information for keeping yourself safe.

If an emergency does arise, you’ll want to make contact with your family. Make a family emergency plan (pdf)with your loved ones to prepare for these events. If you are unable to get a hold of other family members in your area, a pre-identified out-of-town contact may be your only form of notifying your family of your safety. Make sure that everyone in your family has a cell phone or access to a phone and knows the out-of-town contact’s phone number. If you have a cell phone, put down this person as "ICE," or "in case of emergency," in your contacts list. If you are involved in an accident, it will give emergency personnel an easy way to get hold of someone you know.

Teaching your family members how to use text messaging can also be a plus during a disaster. Text messages can sometimes get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.

While the vast majority of trips on mass transit are uneventful (and sometimes even pleasant), it helps to take extra steps to be prepared.

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