Safety officials have long warned that if you are caught in a hurricane like Irene, you cannot count on immediate help. You need three days' worth of food and water, flashlights, a battery-powered radio and a supply of your medications.
Here are three things you may not have thought of that you can do right now, if you're in a place where the hurricane has not yet hit. I've added an important reminder for when the power goes out.
1. Fill your bathtub with water, unless you have little children. This water can be used for drinking, washing, and flushing the toilet. Water supplies are often compromised by hurricanes and either become undrinkable or stop flowing.
2. Turn your refrigerator and freezer temperatures down to their coldest settings. This will give your food a bit more of a chance of surviving if the power goes out.
3. Look to see how to turn off your water and gas. If there is damage to your utilities, you may be instructed to turn them off. Better to figure out how to do this now.
And when the storm knocks out power to your house:
Be careful how you use your gasoline-powered generator. An improperly ventilated generator will cause carbon monoxide to seep back into your house. This can be deadly. Following every hurricane people are hospitalized and die from carbon monixide poisoning.
Never run a generator inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented. Many people buy generators right before the storm and don't know how to properly operate them.