Apparently the reports were not exaggerated. It’s clear that Hurricane Sandy is going to have a direct impact on my life for the next few days. This storm is huge, with tropical storm-force winds extending notheastwards 520 miles from the center, and twelve-foot high seas covering a diameter of ocean 1,030 miles across. Conditions will be deteriorating as the day goes on, and we will start to get a taste of Sandy’s worst some 24 hours before she makes landfall predicted to be along the coast of New Jersey around 2 a.m. Tuesday. New York City (75 miles away) will be shutting down its transit system later today at 7 pm.
Everyone in the Northeast who still finds themselves in the calm before the storm should be using these remaining hours to get ready for anything – wind to the east, high tide on the shore, storm surge in the Sound, and heavy precipitation to the west, including snow in the mountains.
Yesterday we did our outdoor prep – bringing in all the items that might become airborne, securing the solar-powered attic fan so it would not achieve lift-off. Now we’re doing the last-minute checks to be sure all the storm windows are down all the way and taking action to cope with all possible scenarios.
As a newly-certified Connecticut Master Gardener, I find myself on an email list for all kinds of info. Among the most recent was a series of links and tips about household safety in case the power goes out. [During Hurricane Irene last year there were a large number of CL&P customers who were out of power for a week or more.]
Here are some highlights from the list plus a few of my own:
- Make sure you have enough bottled water on hand to last each family member several days. [Either purchased or in scrupulously clean containers.]
- Be certain you have plenty of non-perishable food that does not requiring cooking and a non-electric can opener to open any cans.
- Get items in small sizes; you may not have a way to store leftovers.
- Set your the freezer and refrigerator to the coldest settings; remember to set them back to normal once the storm is over. If you lose power, open the doors as little as possible.
- Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator, or coolers in case the power goes out. If your normal water supply is contaminated or unavailable, the melting ice will also supply drinking water. Zip lock bags work fine. A packed freezer will stay cold longer.
- Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately-this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
- Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerated food cold.
- Print out this chart from FoodSafety.Gov detailing how long various types of perishable food will last.
- Fill your bathtub with water for flushing your toilet if you rely on a pump.
- Pay a visit to an ATM now. They don’t function when the power is out.
- Get out your old school portable radio and make sure it has batteries.
- Keep your cell phone fully charged. If you lose power, turn it off except for emergency use. And remember that texting uses less power than calling.
Check out these links for more tips, and be sure to print them out now so you have them on hand if you lose power.
- From the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- From the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- From the American Red Cross: a page of preparedness fact sheets for all kinds of disasters. You can also get their Hurricane app for your smartphone, which of course is only good as long as your phone is charged.
Don’t forget a flashlight with good batteries (or a hand crank).
And get to the store soon if you need bread. It’s always the first item to go…
Take care and stay safe.