Sunday, October 28, 2012

50 Prep Tips for the Superstorm

Within the next 24 hours, many parts of the east coast of the US are expected to be hit by a "super storm".  If you are in the storm's path--and even if you are not (air travel)--consider these tips:
  1. Stay glued to the news.  Information about what is happening could save your life.
  2. If your house is in the storm's path, consider sandbagging and boarding up windows.
  3. If you are told that you should evacuate, do so.  A few days away from your home could save your life (and the lives of rescuers who invariably get called to rescue people who didn't heed the evacuation warnings).
  4. If you have travel scheduled, check with your airline (or Amtrak).  Many flights will be cancelled (even if you aren't in the area, flight delays often impact airports across the country).
  5. Be prepared for power outages.  It is estimated that 10 million people could be impacted by power outages before, during, and after the storm.
  6. Find out if your kid's school will be open or closed.  Some schools have already cancelled class for the next few days.
  7. Public transportation will also be impacted.  The New York subway system has been shut down and no doubt many other community transit systems will be shutdown or curtailed.  If you rely on public transportation, check the company's website before you go.
  8. Wall Street will be shut down but online trading will still be available.
  9. Have you stocked up on the basics to shelter in place in your home?  Many stores are reporting a glut of last-minute customers stocking up on water, food, diapers, etc.
  10. Be aware that when something is in demand (generators now, possibly construction supplies, etc later) there are often shortages, prices may be jacked up, theft may become a bigger issue, and scams will abound.
  11. Cell service may be lost if cell towers go down.  A hardwired land line phone may work when cell phones don't.
  12. Cell service may be overloaded.  Note that when cell calls can't go through, text messages often do.
  13. Consider how you will entertain the family when there is no electricity.
  14. Know where your local shelters are located.  In the event that you must evacuate, know where to go (in this case it will be to higher ground as flooding is predicted in many areas).
  15. Be careful with flood water--it is more dangerous than it looks and any time there is a flood, people end up getting killed in the rushing water.  Don’t walk in flooded areas, don’t drive on flooded roads.
  16. Do you have clean up supplies on hand?  If you are in the path of the storm, clean up will be a necessity afterwards.
  17. Beware of downed power lines.  Never drive over downed power lines, touch them, or touch anything that is touching them (like tree limbs across power lines).
  18. Check on your neighbors.  Make sure that those who need to evacuate know how to do so and after the storm, check to make sure that everyone is OK (medical emergencies uptick during and after a disaster, additional problems can be caused by an extended power outage or cold temperatures).
  19. Break out your communications plan.  Know who and how to call to let them know that you and your family are surviving the storm.
  20. Do you have a full tank of gas in your car?  You may end up driving a distance to evacuate or to seek food/help/etc so make sure your car is ready to go.
  21. Do you have enough water on hand?  You should have plenty of bottled water/canisters of drinking water.  Also consider filling up the bathtub.  Often flooding makes water systems (especially wells) malfunction and you won't be able to drink tap water.
  22. How will you heat your home?  In many areas, snow and cold weather is predicted so during a power outage you will need to be able to keep warm.
  23. You may need to make alternate plans for Halloween.
  24. If you have things in your yard (lawn furniture, etc) be sure to tie it down or bring it in to keep it from flying around in the storm.
  25. It's always a good idea to have tarps and rope on hand in case pieces of your roof fly off or a tree falls into your home.
  26. Stay away from the beaches.  With storm surge and extra high tides, playing near the waves is just too dangerous.
  27. Check your local department of emergency management website for information specific to your area.
  28. If you have medical concerns, take care of them before the storm starts (make sure you have enough prescription medication on hand, enough oxygen, the ability to keep the power on if that is necessary, and ask your doctor what you should do if you need critical medical treatment such as dialysis).
  29. Ask your employer what their plan is during the storm.  Many businesses in the path of the storm are closing up.  
  30. Know that you may need to protect youself and your property.  Disasters tend to bring out looters and other people looking to take what they can get.
  31. If you have plans made for the next few days, check to see if they are still a go.  Many political rallies, sporting events, etc have been cancelled.
  32. If you live at higher elevations, be prepared for snow.  Snow is forecast in many of the higher areas from the Appalachians into Canada.
  33. Do you have your BOBs ready?  Even if you don’t plan to evacuate, things could change and you may have to leave on a moment’s notice.
  34. Keep paper, markers, and tape on hand.  If you need help and can’t call or otherwise seek assistance, post a message on your front window.  Generally after an area is hard hit, local first responders will drive through neighborhoods checking for damage and looking for people who need help. 
  35. Be sure to keep your gutters, downspouts, and drainage covers free of debris so that water can flow away from your home.
  36. Make sure your phones are charged (bonus points if you have a car AC/DC adapter which would allow you to charge your cell phone and other small items if you have a power outage).
  37. If flooding is predicted in your area, move stuff from the first floor to the second floor if possible to save it from potential flood water.
  38. If your basement has a sump pump, make sure it is in working order.
  39. Take a few minutes before the storm to look up important numbers (electric company, gas company, water company, etc) so that you can report an outage or emergency if necessary.
  40. Unplug appliances—especially your computers and TV—so they won’t get jolted if the power goes out then comes back on.
  41. Keep all of your valuables and important papers in one big waterproof Ziploc bag which you can grab in a hurry if you need to leave.
  42. If you are caught in the eye of the hurricane, seek shelter in the basement or an interior room during the height of the storm.  If you are near the beach or flooding is possible, head for the attic (make sure you have an ax in the attic in case you need to go through the roof to escape).
  43. You do have extra cash on hand don’t you?  Banks may be closed and ATMs may not work during and after the storm.
  44. If you haven’t done a home inventory, break out your digital camera or cell phone video recorder and make a quick sweep through your house to document the things that are in your home; you may need to file an insurance claim afterwards.
  45. Stay off the roads during the height of the storm.
  46. Take care with your pets.  Keep them inside until everything has settled down as they may panic and run off if left outside.
  47. Plan for not only the hurricane but for flooding and potentially cold or freezing weather and/or snow (thus the term “super storm”).
  48. If you have a weather radio, leave it on for up to the minute storm information.
  49. After the storm, take photos and videos to document what happened to your area (may come in handy for insurance claims, etc).
  50. Be extra careful to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.  Make sure your generator doesn’t exhaust into your home, don’t use outdoor cooking appliance to cook inside your home, etc.

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