As Hurricane Sandy unleashes its fury on the East Coast, Federal Emergency Management Agency government officials recommend taking several safety precautions to remain safe.
1. Gather an emergency supply kit that includes:
Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation; you can fill a bathtub with water before the storm gets underway if you haven’t bought any bottled containers.
Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
Get a two week supply for your pets
Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit
Whistle to signal for help
Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation if you lose water
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Manual can opener for food
Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
2. Before the storm gets underway, secure your home: Close storm shutters and tie down outdoor objects or bringing them indoors. Turn off utilities if you’re instructed to do so because of a flooding threat. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator and freezer to its coldest setting and keep doors closed if you lose power. Head to your wind-safe shelter if you’re ordered to evacuate.
3. When the storm hits, seek the safest place in your house: If you live in a high-rise building, hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations, so you should head to a lower floor. Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors. Close all interior doors, and secure and brace external doors. Keep your curtains and blinds closed to shield against breaking glass. Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level. Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object. Avoid elevators.
Keep an eye on your pets since they can become anxious or more aggressive during times of very low pressure due to storms.
4. After the storm, avoid risky after-effects: Follow these food safety tips if you lose power during the storm to avoid getting food poisoning from spoiled food. You should also steer clear of downed power lines. Make sure pets don’t wander outside if there are downed power lines. Also, familiar scents and landmarks may be altered by fallen trees and branches, which can be confusing to your pet. Snakes, insects or animals driven to higher ground by floods can also be dangerous to your pets. Columbia Gas of Massachusetts told residents who experience flooding in and around gas meters and appliances to call them at 800-525-8222. They also recommended turning off the electrical power to each appliance and leaving it off. If you notice a strong gas odor, or if there is other evidence of a natural gas leak, do not enter your house.
Any wet electrical wiring is extremely hazardous, and the main electrical supply should remain shut off until a municipal inspector conducts an inspection of the wiring. Any loose wires should be considered “live” and a hazard. Do not attempt to place natural gas appliances back in service yourself, recommended Columbia Gas. A licensed plumber or contractor needs to check, clean, repair and pressure test all gas pipes, which may have been clogged with mud or debris.
Deborah Kotz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.