When a disaster evacuation occurs, there is often a fuel shortage and many people are unprepared to deal with this situation.
While electrical outages, food and water shortages are common enough that we have learned to adapt to them, many of us have never had to consider the risk of a fuel shortage – that is until recently.
Fuel shortages are common in other parts of the world and as we have recently seen they also affect the United States when a mandatory evacuation or natural disaster happens.
Things That Can Cause A Fuel Shortage Include:
- Disputes between fuel providers and their suppliers or employees.
- A long term, large scale electrical shortage causing the shutdown of gas stations.
- The slow reduction in fossil fuels creating physical, financial, or legal restrictions which will stop us using fuel.
- Natural disasters.
In these situations, it is vital to be prepared well in advance so you are not caught without fuel.
A lack of fuel can cause severe problems for people living in areas that are affected by a natural disaster.
Fewer gas stations are able to operate during these events, causing panic and desperation for those seeking refueling options especially if they are trying to get away from the situation.
Fuel shortages are one of the most common occurrences when natural disasters occur because they are so difficult to prevent or prepare for.
Here Is How To Prepare For A Fuel Shortage
When you are suddenly facing a fuel shortage, one of the first things to consider is how you will get around.
This is especially important if you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes, where driving can often be unsafe due to flooding.
If you are unable to drive or if gasoline becomes unavailable, your best bet may be a bicycle.
Bicycles have many advantages over cars and other vehicles when it comes to fuel shortages.
They are cheaper and easier to maintain than cars and can be quickly fixed on the go with a screwdriver or wrench.
They don’t require as much space as motorcycles, so they can fit on sidewalks more easily than those two-wheeled vehicles and bicycles store well in areas where space is limited, making them easy to keep on hand during a disaster scenario.
You can carry a bicycle in your vehicle just in case you run out of gas so you can at least get to a safe place.
Other options include:
- If a fuel shortage looks like it will affect you for more than a few days, figure out how to use less fuel so you can conserve what you have on hand.
- If you live far away from town consider purchasing a month or more of groceries and focusing on frozen, freezable, or canned goods, to minimize shopping trips.
- If you live in an urban setting, walk or ride a bicycle to shop even though this means you will have to shop more frequently – or take a wagon or stroller with you so you have a way to transport the groceries you buy.
- Consider working from home if at all possible, or condensing your work days so you have to travel less.
- Carpooling and public transport are other potential ways of getting where you need to go in the event of a fuel shortage.
Have A Low-Fuel Or Fuel-Free Transportation Alternative Ready
If you really need to get around but your regular vehicle uses a lot of fuel, consider keeping an alternative vehicle which uses less fuel or keep some gas on hand safely stored in proper containers.
What your alternative vehicle is will depend on where you live and what you can afford.
If you live in the city and are close to the places you need to get, a bicycle is a good choice.
But if you live far out in the country and need to cover greater distances, a low-fuel motorbike or scooter could be a life-changer.
Some people who live rurally will also benefit from using horses, donkeys or cattle for travel.
If you don’t have your own livestock, make arrangements with someone who does in case you need emergency fuel-free transportation.
Keep A Stockpile Of Fuel On Hand
This is a very clever idea, but many people get it wrong.
The common mistake is to a bicycle is a good choice, fill them, and stash them away long term.
Petrol or diesel in a gas can in your garage only has a healthy life of three to six months before it becomes useless.
If you intend on keeping a stockpile, fill up your gas cans with 4 month’s worth of regular fuel use and cycle them.
That means keeping a date sticker on them, when your fuel is low topping up from the oldest can, and filling a new one.
This cannot be done as effectively with more sensitive engines, though, as it can wear them down.
Keep Your Gas Tanks Full
A simple way to make sure you are ready for a brief fuel shortage is just to keep your vehicle’s topped up.
Again, you rarely get much warning when a fuel shortage hits, it is generally well into it that most people find out, and by then it is too late to fuel up.
By never letting your tank drop below half full you can make sure you have enough to keep you moving if there is a brief fuel shortage.
This could make the difference between getting things done and not getting things done in a fuel shortage, or between running out of fuel fast and having enough fuel to get you to an area where the gas pumps work again.
While some might think keeping a filled gan can in your vehicle is a good idea just in case you can’t make it to the gas station, do not do this!
Gas cans release fumes, not to mention how flamable gas is and you never know when an accident might happen.
Have An Alternative Heating Option For Your Home
Finally, if your home uses gas, petrol, or diesel to run your heating, then you will need to have a few alternative options.
A simple metal stove which burns coal or a wood burning stove that has a chute to direct smoke out the window, and warms up the room quickly, could be a literal life saver if you need fuel to heat your home.
Be sure to have a stockpile of wood or coal as well as an ax to cut up wood in the event you need more.
Never burn green wood.
A woods or other natural area is a great place to find large branches that have been down for some time and are safe to burn.
Be sure the wood you choose is dry.
While electric heaters are great, keep in mind that chooing an alternative heating option that does not rely on the grid really is your best option.