Emergency Preparedness: Lessons From Winter Storm Leon

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Emergency Preparedness Against Winter Storm Leon

Winter Storm Leon made a mess of several cities in the Southeastern U.S., including Atlanta and Birmingham. Because of the incredibly fast onset of ice and many people getting on the road to drive home at the same time, roads were quickly turned into parking lots in every direction. As a result, commuters were stranded, children were stuck on school buses and salt trucks were unable to de-ice the roads. Many people sat in their cars for more than 12 hours, some over 20 hours for as little as a three mile trip home or to pick up their children from closed schools.


Imagine sitting in gridlocked traffic for 12 hours, when you were expecting to be in the car for an hour or less! Perhaps you skipped lunch to TRY and get ahead of the storm, but wound up in the thick of it. Maybe you left your medication at home… What would you do?

The charitable people living and working in the areas surrounding the gridlock came out to deliver food and water to those trapped in their vehicles…but even then, they weren’t able to deliver these goods until hours after the traffic jam began.


You’ve probably been advised to keep a few items in your car for emergency preparedness, but you couldn’t imagine any emergency where you might need to be this prepared – especially if you live, work and play within a five mile radius, as many of the stranded people did.


Now you know.  No one could have ever expected the traffic to stop for as long as it did. No one could have ever thought of abandoning their car in the middle of the interstate to attempt to walk home. Those are things that only happen on TV and in the movies!


We thought now was as good a time as any to focus on emergency preparedness. The most important items in an emergency kit are simple, cheap, easy to find and they could just save your life.


  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable food items such as granola bars
  • Baby wipes
  • First aid kit
  • Ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory/pain reliever
  • Any prescription medication that is needed daily (i.e. – insulin, blood pressure medication, etc.)
  • LED Flashlight
  • Knife
  • Small fire starter kit
  • Hand warmers
  • Small wool blanket
  • Gloves
  • Extra socks
  • Hat
  • Extra cell phone charger
  • List of emergency contacts
  • Map or atlas
  • Spare eyeglasses if necessary
  • Flare


These items won’t take up much space in the trunk of your car and they could at the very least keep you comfortable while waiting for assistance, or to get through a traffic jam like the one caused by Winter Storm Leon.


Here’s hoping that ice doesn’t strike twice and we’ll never have to experience a winter storm that severe again!

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