How to Prepare for Hurricane Sandy
Loudoun County, FEMA offer advice for residents in advance of October's 'Frankenstorm'
Hurricane Sandy is on track to hit Northern Virginia starting Sunday night — and officials say that's plenty of time to prepare for the worst case scenario.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends all residents develop a ready kit, including water, food and other emergency supplies.
The basics, according to FEMA: At least three days worth of non-perishable food and one gallon of water per day for each person in your household for at least three days, for both drinking and sanitation.
Emergency supplies FEMA recommends:
- "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
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger"
Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman has alerted all essential personnel and county administration officials are urging residents to prepare now for the possibility of high winds and heavy rains next week. These precautions include simple steps, such as:
- Stock or re-stock emergency supply kits, including extra batteries, etc.
- Clean out gutters and storm drains. Keep drains clear of trash, leaves and branches, so that rainwaters can easily flow, reducing possible flooding and ponding situations.
- Remember food safety. Have a cooler on hand to keep food cold in the case of a power outage. Group food together in the freezer now so it stays cold longer.
- Have an adequate communication plan. Be sure friends and family know how to contact you. Teach family members how to use text messaging as text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call can’t get through.
- If there is flooding, avoid walking or driving through any flooded areas. It takes only six inches of fast-moving flood water to knock over an adult and two feet to move a vehicle. Remember: Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
- Keep up to date with local conditions by following media reports and monitoring the National Weather Service at www.weather.gov (http://mobile.weather.gov on your phone) for the latest forecast.
- If you have not already done so, sign up for alerts from the county including emergency information, news releases, traffic information, and more through Alert Loudoun at www.loudoun.gov/alert.
To protect your property, FEMA also suggests:
- Cover your home's windows, either through permanent storm shutters or by boarding up windows. (Recommended: 5/8” marine plywood, "cut to fit and ready to install.") The agency notes " tape does not prevent windows from breaking."
- Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
- If you're able, trim shrubs and trees surrounding your home. This makes them more wind resistant and can prevent damaged or dead limbs from crashing onto a home or a car as winds pick up.
- Reinforce your garage doors. FEMA says "if wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage."
- Tie down outdoor furniture — including garbage cans, patio sets, decorations, large garden ornaments, and anything else that is not tied down.
- If you live in a high-rise building, seek out potential places for shelters on the 10th floor or below — or, identify a location underground you can get to safety at the beginning of the storm.
Make a Family Emergency Plan
FEMA also encourages every household to make a family emergency plan, which includes giving each member of the family a contact card with cell phone numbers, email and physical addresses for places of work and residences. Keep the cards in briefcases, purses or backpacks.
Families should also identify out-of-state relatives or friends who can act as a coordinator in the event of an emergency. Family members can call that person to let them know they are safe.