For my friends and family in the target zone... here is a list of things you should be doing or have done already....be safe, this storm is no joke...
No electricity for days on end is no picnic, but if you do some preparation ASAP, you'll at least be glad you did while you're being inconvenienced, at best and having to deal with the worst of it, as well.
1. Go get $300 or more from the ATM - I am not kidding. No cash, no purchase! When electricity is out - so are the registers - and it becomes an instant cash economy.
2. If you have a car, fill it with gas - NOW! Please trust me on this one. If you have a gas can, fill it, too - you will be in a snarl of traffic if you need to leave, that will make you tear your hair out. Also, if you need to use the car to charge a phone, etc, it's good to have extra gas in it, or gas for the generator you neighbor may have and will let you run an extension cord to, because you're cool to have some gas.
3. You need food that will not spoil - think tuna in a pouch, cereal, snacks, cookies, crackers, bread, peanut butter, etc. (The Northeast infrastructure is old and will not tolerate this well. Power outages are likely to last at least a week or two.)
4. Water - drinking water and water for the rest of the universe. Bleach out the bathtub, rinse it well, and fill with water to wash dishes, ect. You'll be happy about that later.
5. Get a bucket for the bathroom - it will help with #4 and in the event that other things go terribly wrong (like having to flush the toilets).
6. Battery powered fan (oh, trust me on this one!)
7. Batteries - D cell for the flashlights - get about a dozen. Double AA for smaller flashlights, C and D's for radios. (Personally, I like using my camping head lamp - keeps things handsfree and points where you're looking. )
8. Battery operated radio - the cell phone and iPod/iPads will give out, once the charge is gone, and some require wireless internet, which will go down with the electricity and you may not be able to recharge them. This is good not only for diversion but for information and should not be underestimated. It's good to stay in touch with the rest of the world.
9. Wind up or battery operated flash light, lantern, a head lamp because holding a flash light gets old.
10. If you have furniture, decorations, etc. on a balconly, or in the yard - I don't care how heavy it is - it will move and could become a flying object. Bring it in the house, plant it in the living room - you will be happy when it doesn't come flying into your house or someone else's house and they sue you. Garbarge cans, too- stick them in the garage and make sure they are as empty as possible before the storm.
11. Get your insurance documents together as well as any property deeds and stick them in a plastic bag. Also have a camera ready and charged to take before pictures of your place and after pictures - and having been through this with other storms/hurricaines - the more you can produce, the better it will go.
12. Don't Panic - but leave absolutely nothing to chance. The storm surge will flood places that you've not seen flooded in your lifetime. If you car gets wet - leave it - you can replace it. You will likely be killed trying to move it because the intensity of that water is insane. If you can park it in a garage somewhere - not underground - then absolutely do that.
13. Do your laundry before the storm! (you'll thank me! hahahaha)
14. Fill bags of water and put them in the freezer. A full freezer willl keep things better and in the unfortunate event that it does thaw out - you will have that water to drink. Try to have as little as possible in the freezer and fridge before the storm. Really, you don't want to throw out all of that food...
15. Get your most recent grocery receipts together, in case you need to make a claim on your homeowners. I know it seems silly, but this adds up very, very quickly - like $400 - $500
16. If you need to make a claim, see #9 above, and know that everyone else in the neighborhood is going to be doing this, too. You may want to call your agent ahead of time and get information on what to do if you need to move limbs and things before they can send an adjuster.
17. If you live in an apartment and have a management company, do not count on them to board your windows, etc. Get plywood and do what you can - without violating your lease. Those of you on the eastern side of the storm are going to bear the brunt of this. It will mean road washouts, major storm surge and blistering winds. Students - take what you value the most when you head home, or go to help your parents.
18. If you live in a low lying area or close to the coast, please consider taking what you really like and leaving for higher ground. Stuff can be replaced, you can't.
19. If you stay in your low lying area, move furniture to the upper floors, take all the pictures and important documents and stick them in ziplock bags - NOT the zippered type, but the type you have to press together to form a good, tight seal!
20. Pur your external hard drive, ipod, and jump drives into a ziploc bag, too, if you plan to leave. When it's raining like crazy, you want that stuff to stay dry.
21. If you are really leaving, empty your fridge and freezer and unplug it. The mess of rotten food will overwhelm you and will stay with you, your house or apartment, forever.
22. Take your pets with you, if you leave, please! They will need to be cared for and deserved to be out of harms way, too!
23. Zip ties, garbage bags, duct tape, purell hand sanitizer, toilet paper, baby wipes, paper towels all come in handy. Paper plates and plastic cups, disposible utensils - you won't want to be washing dishes during the storm and for the time after. These are all things that won't go bad, so buy them now before everyone get in a tizzy.
24. Don't assume that restaurants or other places will re-open quickly. If you have a grill, make sure you have some supplies on hand so that you can cook food that is in your fridge, with no electricity, after the storm as fully passed.
25. Flame wands, those things that are not matches- these are good!
26. A manual can opener to open the stuff you bought at the store... LOL
27. Ice. Ice. Ice. Ice. Ice... it's a great thing.
28. A paper list of important phone numbers so that you can call someone from that ancient land line when your cell phone dies and the cordless won't work because of no electricty, or a neighbor's cell phone dies and you can't remember a single number because we have all become so dependant on those silly things.
29. If you are even remotely considering leaving, PLEASE do it before the mandatory evacuation, when everyone else is waiting to leave, too. You know what every day traffic is like, this will only be worse... much worse. If the storm doesn't happen, well, you've been prepared and now you have a clue how to do this... yes, you are ahead of the game, but do not wait for someone to tell you that you must leave. A government official is the last person you want to rely upon for this, just do it! The 19 hours in traffic to go a 100 miles is not worth the grief.
30. I am not an expert - by any stretch of the imagination. I do have experience in this area and want nothing more than my friends to benefit from that experience. Feel free to share, or add....
ADDED: DO NOT PLUG computers, cell phones, etc directly into a generator - it's considered "dirty" electric.
it is best to have a filter on the power from your generator, an inverter is best. The power from a generator fluctuates, so it can overload a computer..
Pay any bills that are due. You may not have postal service or online access for a bit. Some companies may forgive late payments due to long-term outages, some may not.
Here are some last minute things to do before a hurricane/major storm hits:
1)if you have not filled up your car, do it now, pumps don't work w/o electricity.
2)Make sure that you have enough water for a long-term event---1 gallon/person each day.
3) Charge your cell phone. Text messages work better than voice. Know where your car charger is. You can charge your phone in your car if power is out
4) Make sure that you have an old-school can opener.
5) Do your laundry today.
6) Solar powered yard lights can be brought indoors at night for light.
7) Get some cash out of your ATM now. They don't work without power.
8) If you must use candles, keep them in the sink....
9) If your storm drains are clogged with leaves, clean them out
10) pay your bills that are due. Mail service may be suspended and internet access may be out
11) set your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings
12) 1/2 fill ziploc bags with water and squeeze as many as you can in to available space in your freezer
13) if you have meat in your freezer, put it in garbage bags now. If power goes out, the rotten meat won't damage your freezer. If you evacuate, empty your freezer and refrigerator.
14) find your most recent grocery receipts. You will be reimbursed for food losses...$3- 400 can add up in lost goods.
15) Fill a plastic cup with ice cubes and put it in your freezer. If (when) the power goes out, you will be able to tell if the cubes partially melted or fully melted before the power came back on - if fully melted, toss the food in the freezer. If partially melted, you'll need to use your judgment as to whether the food is still OK to eat...
16) charge your camera and take "before" pictures and "after" pictures if needed
Of course these tips are in addition to the important tasks that should have already been done such as locating insurance and other important papers, securing photos and keepsakes, taking care of pets and elderly, securing outdoor items, boarding windows, having flashlights and batteries, battery operated fan and radio, etc... most of all, stay diligent, use your brains, and stay safe!