As Hurricane Sandy takes aim at Maryland and the rest of the East Coast, residents living in the storm’s projected path should prepare for possible flooding and power outages. Here’s some advice from the American Red Cross on being ready for a disaster.
PREPARE YOUR HOME
• Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, hanging plants, bicycles, toys and garden tools, and secure objects that cannot be brought inside, the Red Cross says.
• If time permits and you live in an identified surge zone, elevate furniture or move it to a higher floor to protect it from flooding.
• Put plywood over your home’s windows if high winds are predicted in your area.
• If you have a sump pump for your basement, make sure it’s working
• If local officials do not advise you to evacuate, stay inside, away from windows, skylights and glass doors.
• Do not use open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light in case of power or gas outages.
- Beware of downed power lines: the wires may not seem to be electrified but should always be considered deadly. Don’t walk or drive near or over a downed line, and watch out for anything touching the line. If a wire falls on a vehicle, passengers should stay inside until help arrives.
- If the power goes off, unplug appliances like refrigerators and freezers and sensitive electronic equipment like TVs and computers so that they won’t overload when power is restored.
- Don’t use gas stoves or lanterns meant for outdoor use inside your house.
KEEP SUPPLIES ON HAND
The Red Cross suggests including these items in your portable, waterproof evacuation kit:
• Water: One gallon per person, per day.
• Food: Non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items such as tuna fish, peanut butter, crackers and canned fruit. Make sure to include a manual can opener.
• A battery powered or hand-crank radio, flashlights and plenty of extra batteries.
• A first aid kit.
• Medication: A seven-day supply of prescription and non-prescription medications. Include medical supplies like extra hearing aid batteries, syringes, etc.
• Copies of important documents. The IRS also suggests that documents like tax returns, home-closing statements, vehicle titles, insurance records, birth, death or marriage certificates and legal paperwork should be scanned, encrypted and saved digitally on USB drives or CDs. It’s also helpful to take inventory of important possessions, make a list of emergency contacts, said the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and gather appraisals of items like jewelry, collectibles and artwork in a safe place.
• Extra cash. ATMs and credit cards won’t work if the power is out.
• One blanket or sleeping bag per person.
• Pet supplies: Don’t forget to stock up for your furry friends.
PLAN FOR POSSIBLE EVACUATIONS
The Red Cross recommends planning ahead for the possibility of an evacuation:
• Plan your evacuation route. Identify alternate routes from home, work or school.
Discuss with your family members meeting places in case you’re separated during the disaster, one outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire, and one outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.
• Be aware that pets may not be allowed in shelters. Contact hotels, motels, family members and animal shelters to see if they would allow pets in a disaster situation. Keep a contact list of “pet friendly” locations. Take your pets with you.
• If you need to leave, secure your home by unplugging appliances and turning off electricity and the main water valve.
• If you are told to evacuate, do so immediately.