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Commuters told to pack emergency kit for drive around solar eclipse

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Drivers are expecting packed roads and heavy traffic leading up to and following the solar eclipse next Monday.

A family living in the path of the eclipse told KATU News they're prepared to camp in their car in case traffic is so bad they can't make their way home.

"I drive about 120 miles a day," Becky Ginsbach said.

The grandmother lives outside of Albany and travels along Highway 20 multiple times a day to take her daughter to work. Her two-year-old grandson makes the trip with her.

"I myself and her baby spend probably two to three hours each way with our commute. It could be longer. It could be shorter," she said.

Her daughter works in the service industry and needs to work on the day of the eclipse when a surge of people will be in Albany. Ginsbach isn't sure if she'll be able to make the long commute home in the days around the eclipse.

Hotels and campsites in the area are full for the week. Ginsbach said she is getting her car packed with food, water and supplies for her young grandson.

"Worst case scenario, we stay in our car two to three days," she said.

The American Red Cross told KATU News people should try to do what they can to stay home during the day of the eclipse. Those who must travel are encouraged to pack an emergency kit in their car.

The Red Cross is telling drivers to pack the following items in their car:

  • Pack an emergency kit in case you get stuck in traffic or can’t find a place to stay. Include water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications you take daily, supplies for an infant if applicable (formula, special foods, diapers, medications, etc.), a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items including toilet paper, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area (physical copies) and emergency contact information.
  • Let family or friends know where you are going and the route you plan to take to get there before you leave in case there are disruptions in communications.
  • Dress in layers so you can adjust for changes in weather conditions.
  • Create an emergency plan. Determine a location to meet in case someone gets separated from your group, and where to go if severe weather occurs.
  • Because cell service may be overwhelmed, print out your directions.
  • Know where you’re staying at night. Hotel rooms along the eclipse route are mostly sold out, and rentals are extremely high in some cities. Plan to camp if necessary.
  • Keep your gas tank full so you don’t run out while stuck in traffic.
  • Download free Red Cross apps to help you be better prepared.
  • The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe with instant access to large-scale event tips, weather alerts as well as the location of any open Red Cross shelters.
  • The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid scenarios at your fingertips including heat emergencies. Download these apps by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.
  • If you are planning to view the eclipse, remember, looking directly at the sun is unsafe. Don’t forget your eclipse glasses!

More planning tips can be found on the American Red Cross guide to prepare.

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