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Last-minute Hurricane Sandy tips

I know, I know, Hurricane Sandy is almost knocking on our doors up there in the MidAtlantic/Northeast. But here are some tips both for before she arrives late Monday night and after she's gone.

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If your stores haven't already sold out, here are some items that will help you make it through the storm itself and any powerless days afterwards:

  • Water, and lots of it. Drinking water is at the top of your list. But you also should have some containers with water you can use for personal hygiene (hand washing, teeth brushing). If you have a spare tub, fill it up for use here.
  • Also freeze as much ice as you can beforehand. Not only will it help keep your frozen food good for a while longer if you lose power, but you can melt it to drink.
  • Canned or other shelf-stable (yes, I used to work for a food manufacturer) food.
  • Clean clothes. If you have no power for a while, you'll be very thankful that you have enough pairs of clean underwear to get you through until you can do laundry again.
  • Batteries. Lots and lots of batteries to deal with the aforementioned power outage. Yes, candles work, but they also can be messy and dangerous if you have young kids or rambunctious animals. So go with battery-powered light sources.
  • A first aid kit for those kids and pets I just mentioned.

Hurricane_preparedness_logo-NHCThese should get you through a relatively short-term storm situation. The National Hurricane Center has even more suggestions for a full-fledged disaster survival kit.

Financial preparedness: In addition, to the physical prep, make sure your finances are ready for a natural disaster.

Have cash on hand. When power goes out at your house, it's probably out at all your area businesses, including your bank and its ATMs. Some stores might open soon after a storm, but they might not be able to take plastic. So have some cash. A variety of denominations is always good to have on hand, too, just in case the corner store can't make change for a $100 bill.

Have a credit card available: Even though you might not be able to use it immediately after the storm, have a credit card handy that has a large enough credit line to pay for possible long-term storm recovery. You might have to move to a motel for a while.

Get your insurance in order: Your insurance is what it is now that Sandy is on the way; insurance policies generally prohibit changes once a storm forms. Regardless of your coverage, know your policy account number as well as phone numbers to your agent so you can contact him or her as soon as you discover you have damage.

God forbid you should need it, but also make sure you have your medical insurance information, as well as enough medicine, both over-the-counter items (in your first aid kit, perhaps) as well as prescriptions.

Gather other financial documents: In addition to your insurance info, have on hand other important financial documents, such as a list of your bank account numbers and Social Security numbers. It's a good idea to download this date onto your computer and a CD or flash drive.

Taxes, too: Also dig out your copy of this year's tax return. If your area is declared a major disaster, you might want to amend it to take advantage of tax money you could get this year instead of waiting to claim the storm losses on your 2012 return when you file next year.

I hope you don't need to use these tips, but as the old saying goes, better safe than sorry.

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