Hurricane Irene prep tips from a veteran

A work crew with Frederick K. Martin Builders A work crew with Frederick K. Martin Builders board up the Westhampton dunes home of Pat Byrne in preparation for Hurricane Irene. (August 25, 2011) Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

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As a Miami native, I have been through my fair share of hurricanes, so Im pretty familiar with storm preparations. Here are some tips in case Hurricane Irene hits Long Island.

Fill up with gas
Following a major hurricane, some areas could be without power for extended periods. This will affect gas stations. Though you may see trees down in the middle of your street, if your office has power, you may be expected back at work. Be prepared to wait in a line at the gas station, and make sure to have a backup station in mind in case your first choice runs out.

Stock up with water

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Bottled water is key. If power lines fall into nearby water sources, many areas may be under boil-water alerts, and if you dont have power, this is tough to do. Have several cases of bottled water available in case your tap water is unsafe for drinking. Calculate two gallons per person, per day.

Canned food and canned heat
Have your familys favorite canned foods handy in case the food in your refrigerator spoils due to lack of power. You can heat up the food using a canned Sterno to create a campfire-like cooking flame.

Dont have a favorite canned food? Spaghetti-Os and other canned pastas are great for a filling meal. If youre more of a salad person, canned artichoke hearts and hearts of palm were popular in my area.

Get lighting
The last thing you want to do when the house loses power is go searching in a blacked-out closet for a flashlights. Its important to have a flashlight stationed in every room of the house, because youre never sure where you will be when the power goes out.

Head to a safe room

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During the actual storm, it is ideal to be somewhere in your home that has no windows. If you have a two-story house, stick to the ground flood in case the storm damages your roof. Bathrooms and walk-in closets are good hurricane hideaways. Pick a room in your house and take some supplies with you.

Rearrange furniture
Theres no need to redo your whole house, but if your beds and major electronics are stationed under windows, you may want to move them away in case windows are broken.

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Charge electronics
If you lose power, youll still need a way to keep track of the news. Battery-powered radios and TVs are cheap and will get you in tune with what is going on.

Also, have a phone that is completely connected to the wall, not a cordless one because those tend to die quickly when power is out. Write down important numbers before the storm in case your cellphone dies and you cannot access your address book.

Have a camera ready
Buy a cheap, disposable camera or charge your digital camera to take photos of damage to your property following the storm. These photos are important for insurance purposes, so take pictures before cleaning anything up.

Turn down the temperature in the fridge
Right before the storm hits, make your refrigerator temperature cooler to keep your food fresh longer. If you lose power, do not open the fridge or freezer (except to eat melting ice cream). Food should stay good for at least a few days if the fridge is not open and the temperature is cool enough. If you lose power, the rule of thumb is that as long frozen food has frost, it is good to eat.

Tie down basketball hoops, trim trees
Tie down heavy objects near your house or cars that could fall over and cause damage. If you have a basketball hoop outside your home, lie it down on the ground and try to secure it with rope. This way, when the wind gets strong it wont fall on your home or roll into the street. Garbage cans, too.

If you have any large, loose branches on the trees surrounding your property, trim them so they dont fly at your windows or roof.

Prep your patio, pool
Make sure you bring outdoor furnishings inside, as you dont want lawn chairs hitting your house in the middle of the storm. If there is anything you cant bring inside, like a playground set, secure it to the ground with ropes.

As for your pool, dont drain it. The water in your pool weighs it down, which prevents the foundation from getting damaged. As long as your pool has a working drain system, it should be fine during the hurricane.

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