Sandy is barreling up the coast and right now we can’t be sure just what, if anything, she has in store for us. With only a few days left before we know for sure, it behooves all of us in the possible path to get ready for heavy rain and winds and the likelihood of power outages. Here’s a checklist for your convenience. Feel free to direct people over to the site if they have questions about how to prepare.
  • Clean up your yard and secure lawn furniture and yard ornaments. Toys and empty flower pots can become missiles in high winds.
  • Fill your car with gasoline and make sure to park it away from trees if you can. Park facing out.
  • Fill spare gas cans.
  • Check chainsaw fuel and supplies (for cutting downed trees in the aftermath).
  • Refill any prescription medications, even if you have to pay out-of-pocket for an extra few day’s supply.
  • Clean up your house. A tidy home will not just feel better but will also be a lot safer to navigate in low light.
  • Clean out your refrigerator. Get rid of leftovers and soon-to-expire food.
  • Fill your freezer with jugs of water so there is no empty space. A full freezer will hold the cold longer than a partially empty one.
  • Fill water containers or purchase bottled water.
  • Bring up a cooler. If the power looks like it will go out, put milk and lunch meat, condiments and juices in the cooler with jugs of ice so you will not need to open the refrigerator door. Put the cooler in the coldest part of the house and cover it with a heavy blanket or quilt.
  • Wash the globe or glass chimney of any lanterns or candlesticks. A clean chimney is more efficient than a dirty one. Trim the wick and fill the reservoir. Set matches in an accessible spot.
  • Give each person in the home a flashlight to keep next to their bed.
  • Review fire safety with your children and review how to use the fire extinguisher
  • Make a menu for ten days worth of meals. It may seem like overkill but a lot of people were without power for longer than that during Irene. Make sure you have all the ingredients and a way to cook the food. Simple is better. This is one time when it may pay to have individual packets of things like mayonnaise. You can make tuna sandwiches and not have to worry about a big jars of condiments to keep cold.
  • Charge your cell phone.
  • Do any chores that require electricity. You will be happier if the laundry is done and there are clean sheets on all the beds.
  • Make sure there are extra blankets on the beds and that everyone has warm sweaters and caps.
  • Stock up on necessary baby supplies.
  • Make sure you have enough pet supplies.
  • Review first aid kit, replenish supplies as needed.
  • Check on elderly, single or disabled neighbors.
  • Get out some games and puzzles and some read-aloud books.
Please don’t wait until the storm track is clear. By then everybody will be rushing around looking for candles and batteries and non-perishable food. Preparing ahead will allow you to anticipate the storm with a sense of adventure rather than fear.

Kathy Harrison
is the author of Just in Case, Another Place at the Table, and One Small Boat. She is a national spokesperson for both foster parenting and family preparedness and has appeared on The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and National Public Radio. She lives with her family in western Massachusetts.