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
On its blog, Fairfax County gives its own advice for supplies over the next two days:
- Buy extra water. One gallon of water per person (and pet) per day is recommended for drinking and sanitation.
- Buy an extra bag (or cans) of food for your pet.
- Withdraw some extra cash from your bank or ask for cash back at a grocery store so you can make purchases in case there are power outages.
- Review your infant and young children supplies essential to you as a parent or someone who may be taking care of a young child.
- Pickup an extra package or two of the most commonly used batteries in your home.
- Purchase extra over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin or children’s medications you frequently use.
Local officials are also asking residents to rake and sweep leaves on streets near their homes to prevent flooding from wet leaves that could clog street drains.
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.