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How to Prepare for Hurricane Sandy in Arlington County

County, FEMA offer advice for residents in advance of 'Frankenstorm'

Hurricane Sandy is on track to affect Northern Virginia — and officials say there'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

Arlington County gives its own advice for supplies over the next two days:

  • Arlington County is now recommending that every household keep a 10-day supply of items in their kits for each member of the household.

What Residents Can Do:

  • Make sure you and your family members are prepared for an extended weather event.
  • Expect downed trees and power outages.
  • Have flashlights and extra batteries, a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio in case power goes out. Ensure mobile phones are fully charged. And consider pulling out your old-fashioned land-line phone.
  • Have food that does not need refrigeration and one gallon of water per person per day.
  • Other important items are a first aid kit, medication, and other supplies.
  • Don’t wait till Sunday evening to hit the grocery store.
  • Don't forget your pets and others who may need special assistance, including elderly neighbors.
  • Have a communications plan. Make sure all family members understand who to call if you get separated.
  • In these types of weather events, excessive rain will loosen tree root systems so a greater potential for downed trees can be expected.
  • With heavy winds expected, ensure outside items in yards and on decks and patios are secure.
  • Clean out gutters, storm drains, etc. — keeping drains clear of trash, leaves and branches — so rainwater can easily flow, reducing possible flooding and ponding. Also rake leaves to cut down on flying debris.
  • If you live in an area prone to flooding, be prepared to relocate your family and vehicle before flood waters have an impact.
  • If you are driving and see a street that is flooded, turn around.
  • Sign up for Arlington Alert.

How the County is Preparing

  • Monitoring weather closely and coordinating with regional partners.
  • Departments are reviewing emergency plans and procedures.
  • Topping off fuel tanks, vehicles.
  • Checking/refueling generators.
  • Checking roofs/gutters, cleaning them out.
  • Checking and clearing storm drains.
  • Organizing/positioning heavy equipment to deal with storm damage.
  • Checking backup equipment, fuel levels.
  • Removing/securing equipment that may be impacted by high winds.
  • Developing staffing schedules for the storm and aftermath.

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-inch marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. The agency notes that 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. 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.

More tips on family emergency plans can be found here.

kris holmes October 27, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Everyone should get a Powerocks rechargable battery for cell phones. Check them out on PowerocksUSA.com. My daughter had one during hurricane Issac and for 3 days they were without power. Of the 7 people she road the storm out with she was the only one with power to keep me posted on how she was doing. Thank goodness she had it or I would have worried so much more.
Luxstar1 October 28, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Since power outages are inevitable having a long run time flashlight is a good idea. Lowes has a 65 hour run time flashlight for under $5.00 http://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-Flashlight-Mod-Increases-Run-Time-36X/?allstep I got mine in store. I also got one at Target. More: http://armageddononline.org/forums/threads/34318-Cheap-long-run-time-flashlights Or go micro solar for under $50.00. http://www.instructables.com/id/Uses-For-Dead-Car-Batteries-And-Sealed-Lead-Acid-B/?allstep Emergency Led Lighting Made Ridiculously Simple: http://www.instructables.com/id/Emergency-Led-Lighting-Made-Ridiculously-Simple/?allstep

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