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If you are among the estimated 50 million people in the path of Hurricane Sandy, you are hopefully heeding the warning of local authorities and taking disaster preparedness seriously. That may include evacuation if you live in a flood-prone area or of course anywhere where a mandatory evacuation notice has been issued.
The rare hybrid storm, currently off the coast of Cape Hatteras, NC, is expected to make landfall along the central New Jersey coast sometime this evening, bringing with it extended periods of heavy rain, tropical storm-force winds, and a potentially historic tidal surge along the East Coast (including Long Island Sound and New York Harbor), according to the National Weather Service.
The main thing is to stay indoors during the worst of the storm and out of the way of flying debris. And remember, live wires and other ground hazards are dangerous even after the storm.
While you might be hard-pressed to install storm shutters or a power generator at this point, basic disaster preparedness guidelines will help you weather the storm safely at home:
• Stock up on bottled water and non-perishable foods. (Fill up bathtubs and pots and pans for non-drinking water needs.)
• If you have pets, be sure to take into account their needs. You can find more information at Pet Prep for Hurricane Sandy.
• Make sure that flashlights have working batteries, and that candles are at the ready should the power go out.
• Assemble a first-aid kit and be sure to fill necessary drug prescriptions.
• Secure a hand-crank or battery-operated radio to stay apprised of news and weather reports during possible power outages.
• If you are lucky enough to have a generator, make certain it is fueled and operational.
• Make sure your cell phone and other necessary mobile devices are fully charged.
• Secure or store everything that can become airborne from decks, patios, and balconies.
• Make sure your sump pump is in working order; if you don’t have one—get one.
• Place valuables and important papers in a waterproof container and store them on the highest floor of your house.
• If you don’t have a garage, park your car where it can be sheltered by a building (but away from trees).
If you are advised to evacuate, be sure to leave when you are instructed to and follow all directions and orders from local officials. Remember, by refusing to leave you are not only putting yourself at potential risk, but also first-responders who may be called into service.
For more on disaster preparedness, consider: