As Hurricane Sandy moves up the east coast, Cape Cod & Islands will most likely experience heavy rain, damaging winds, widespread power outages, and coastal flooding. Weather forecasts are calling for rain with high winds from Sunday through Wednesday. Visit NOAA to track the storm and the National Weather Service for local forecasts. Cape Cod & Islands residents, along with our New England neighbors, should take a few simple but necessary precautions.
Before the storm hits, it is a good idea to stock up on some basic items - clean drinking water, non-perishable food, baby formula and other needed baby items, prescription medication, first aid essentials, gas or charcoal for the outdoor grill, pet food, batteries for flashlights and transistor radios, candles, firewood and matches. Charge battery powered lanterns, along with cell phones, digital cameras, iPods, iPads and any other electronic devices that are now considered necessities; Verizon customers should locate the old-fashioned rotary dial "Princess" phone that needs no additional power. Comcast subscribers are out of luck. It is also a good idea to freeze extra ice-packs and have coolers on hand to keep refrigerated items safe to eat. Before shopping, organize and take inventory of the refrigerator. Start by eating all of the ice cream in the freezer so it doesn't go to waste if the power fails. No ice cream? Head to Stop & Shop and stock up (note: Edy's is on sale with a coupon). Buy straws too.
Now is the time to put away all patio furniture, children's yard toys and bikes, and to remove any bird-feeders, hanging plants, or flags. Those lucky enough to live on the water, should board or shutter windows. Take a walk around the outside of the house and cage any pink flamingos (or other
When shopping and outdoor preparations have been completed, enlist the whole family to focus on domestic chores inside of the home. Gather dirty laundry, and start the washing machine to ensure that all family members have enough clean underwear to last for a few days. Also, run the dishwasher so that the ice cream dishes don't sit for days in the event of a power failure. Well water users should fill bathtubs, so that toilets can be flushed manually with a bucket of water scooped from the tub. To avoid damage to expensive TV's, personal computers, modems, stereo systems, game systems and all other electronic devices, unplug these items prior to the power flickering. Organize fun things to pass the time and to prevent the kids from whining of boredom if trapped in the house during the storm. Have children put together entertainment survival kits - favorite stuffed animals, flashlights, books, cards, board games, and other old fashioned toys that don't require electricity. Make sure school books are accessible. Even though high school and college students may hope for a week of no classes, homework should be done just in case...
Adults of legal age, 21+, may want to make a beer/wine run while it is still safe to travel. For a local brew, try Cape Cod Beer and Cape Cod Winery. For those who prefer the hard stuff, here is the Hurricane Cocktails recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse. Print now, before the power goes out.
As the storm progresses, watch or listen to the news and heed all state and local government warnings. If asked to evacuate, pack up and go. Make sure to bring valid identification (driver's license, social security card, passport or birth certificate), and cash/checks as ATMs will be inoperable without power; take family pets to ensure their safety. If asked to stay off the roads, please stay at home and leave the roads free for emergency vehicles and clean-up crews. Check out beach erosion when it is safe to travel. Listen to your mother, NO Swimming! Report downed wires and power outages by calling NSTAR at 800-592-2000. In the event of power loss, if it is safe to grill outside, partially defrosted items from the freezer may be bbq'ed before eating non-perishables to make food stocks last longer.
Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is a good resource stay up-to-date with state wide hurricane announcements. NSTAR offers electrical safety measures and some helpful hints on getting ready for and weathering the storm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "What You Need to Know When the Power Goes Out Unexpectedly" offers food safety guidelines. For more disaster information visit the American Red Cross. A list of Cape Cod emergency shelters and current status has been posted by the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee. Pet owners needing information or assistance locating a pet friendly shelter can contact DART, the Cape Cod Disaster Animal Response Team. Those needing transportation to an emergency shelter may call 800-352-7155. Governor Deval Patrick has declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As this very powerful storm continues to arrive, please use extreme caution and good judgment when traveling and avoid dangerous conditions.
Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Be aware, be informed, be prepared, be alert, be safe!