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Prep for Worst, Pray for Best Storm

You might want to start making an emergency kit for Hurricane Sandy even though the projected track of the storm right now is landfall in New Jersey, not New England.

Hurricane Sandy's path north is being watched very closely. Some of the most recent computer tracks indicate it will make landfall along the Delaware and New Jersey coast.

But this storm -- already described as a "Frankenstorm" or a "perfect storm" -- is so large that the entire East Coast and southern New England up to Maine is being threatened with heavy rain, wind and high tides.

It's not too early to get prepared for the worst in Barrington if the storm's track suddenly veers farther northeast. And when and where the hurricane sweeps into the region will determine the potential damage. If it’s a low tide, that’s good. If it’s a high tide, not so good.

Check with local officials to determine if you are in a low-lying area, such as Hampden Meadows, Bay Spring, and Mathewson Road, if you don’t know. A storm surge and astronomical high tides would push water much farther inland, meaning you could be in danger if you live in a low-lying area.

Shelters will open as needed. Primrose Hill School in Barrington and the Martin School in Seekonk are the Red Cross-approved shelters. They have generators to provide power if electrical lines come down.

The National Hurricane Center and the Weather Channel are all predicting that Sandy will arrive sometime very late Monday, Oct. 29, or early Tuesday, Oct. 30 and then stick around for a couple of days.

Follow the instructions below from the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA), the health department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the National Hurricane Center,  which is operated by the National Weather Service to get prepared.

If a hurricane watch or warning is issued:

  • Follow hurricane progress reports from the National Weather Service or other storm trackers, such as local TV stations.
  • Store drinking water in clean jugs, bottles, or in your bathtub
  • Store or secure lawn furniture and other outside objects that can be blown away or that might shatter windows.
  • Store valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container.
  • Protect all windows with shutters or precut plywood.
  • Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings, unless instructed by officials to turn off utilities. 
  • Fill your car's gas tank. (Gas pumps are electric.)
  • Review evacuation routes and gather emergency supplies you would need if you have to evacuate.
  • Evacuate safely, if ordered to do so.

If a hurricane passes through:

  • Return home only after officials say it is safe to do so.
  • Beware of downed or loose power lines. Report them immediately to the power company, police department, or fire department.
  • Enter your home with caution.
  • Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, quickly leave the building and leave the doors open. Call the gas company. (Do not use candles or open flames until you verify that it is safe.)
  • Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or frayed wires, turn off electricity at the main fuse box. If there is standing water around your electrical box, call an electrician.
  • If you suspect there is sewer or water line damage, call the water supplier.
  • If a Boil Water Advisory has been issued for your water system, do not drink or prepare food with tap water until notified it is safe to do so.
  • Clean and dry out your home if there has been flooding.
  • Take pictures of the damage for insurance claims and contact your insurance agent.

The Red Cross recommends that you “build a kit, make a plan and be informed -- the building blocks of readiness.”

Build an Emergency Kit. Emergency kits should contain a three-day supply of water for each person in the household, along with food that doesn’t require refrigeration, flashlights, a battery-operated radio and a first aid kit. A full list of suggested items is available on redcross.org. Be sure that you include food and water for your pets.

Make a Plan. Do you have a family evacuation plan? Know potential routes out of your area and have possible locations where you might be able to temporarily shelter with family or friends or at a hotel or motel. If you have pets, make sure you factor them into your plans. Whether you need to evacuate or shelter in place at home, make sure that you have a several days’ supply of any important medications for yourself and family members.

Be Informed. You should know your community’s risks for storm hazards like flooding. If evacuations are a possibility, know where you will get information on routes and locations. Check with local officials to learn where to get this information. Also keep up with Patch and other local news reports when a storm is predicted for your area. Hurricane Sandy is still several days away and impacts may change; local weather updates will help you prepare.

You can also stay informed by downloading the free Red Cross Hurricane App. It puts real time information and safet tips at your fingertips. Among its features:

  • The app features information on Red Cross shelters, a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm.
  • The one-touch “I’m Safe” button lets someone use social media outlets to let family and friends know they are okay.
  • People across the country planning to travel to areas predicted to get hit with the storm can use the app to receive weather alerts.

The Hurricane App can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

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