Many along the East Coast are already feeling the damaging effects of Hurricane Sandy, but the worst may still be yet to come. As the “Frankenstorm” continues to barrel along the East Coast, Senior Red Cross Officer Cynthia Gutierrez-White offered some tips for how to best hunker down and make it through the rest of the storm.
Remain inside. Forecasters have predicted that the storm will only get worse as the storm churns toward making landfall in New Jersey late Monday. Gutierrez-White stresses that the most important key to staying safe during the storm is to remain indoors.
“Where we are at this point, the Red Cross recommends for people to be where they are going to be for the duration of the storm. Now is not the time to decide to go to a friends’ house or a shelter,” Gutierrez-White says. “Because some of the bands are hitting the East Coast, now is not a time to hit the road.”
Keep supplies nearby. All essential supplies such as water, non-perishable food, batteries, list of phone numbers, radio, car keys, and flashlights should be stockpiled in a common, central area. Should the power go out, all supplies should be easily accessible.
Don’t use candles for light. In the event of a power outage, always use a flashlight for light instead of candles. Although fires may not seem like an urgent concern during a hurricane, candles are often the source of fires during a storm. Flashlights are a way to easily avoid running an extra risk.
“Why run the risk of starting a fire during the storm. Don’t use a candle, just use a flashlight. Use the extra nearby batteries in case the batteries run out,” Gutierrez-White advised.
Stay informed. Staying informed is one of the most important things to do during a storm, Gutierrez-White says. One way to do so is by using the Red Cross Hurricane smartphone application. The app has up to date weather alerts, information on shelters, and an “I’m Safe” button that uses social media to alert family and friends know that they are safe. According to the Red Cross, more than 235,000 people have downloaded the free app, which has made it one of the most popular free apps.
For those who do not have smartphones, Gutierrez-White recommends keeping a radio nearby. “It’s a very effective way to be in touch with what’s going on,” she says.
Keep kids and pets calm. Children are very receptive to stress, Gutierrez-White says. She advises parents to let their kids relax and have some games on hand. But kids aren’t the only ones who need some extra caring for during the storm. She also advises people to not forget about their pets. “Pets are also very receptive to stress,” Gutierrez-White says. “‘You’ll want to give them some treats and have their cozy blankets.”
Only leave the house when local officials say it is safe to do so. According to Gutierrez-White, who is based in hurricane-prone Florida, the majority of accidents caused by a hurricane do not happen before or during the storm- they happen after.
She spoke of her own experience with hurricanes. “People tend to go outside and survey the damage. If it’s sunny, it may just be the eye of the storm,” she says. “To our friends up North, this is unordinary. But you need to hunker down until you are given the green light to step outside.”
Although Hurricane Sandy is battering the East Coast, it’s affecting people who live all throughout the United States. The Red Cross says nearly a hundred blood drives have been cancelled because of the storm, causing a loss of as many as 3,200 blood and platelet products and affecting people who need blood donations all across the country. Gutierrez-White said people who are not in the affected areas and want to help the Red Cross can either donate or schedule a blood donation. After the storm, Gutierrez-White says the Red Cross will also be offering supplies and assistance to those who need it.