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.