It's the calm before the storm and now is the time to prepare for Hurricane Sandy. Liz Crenshaw's Consumer Watch has a few ideas of things you can do right now to make the mess of Sandy easier to deal with.
To fight the rain, you need working gutters and downspouts. Clear leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts so that the rain flows away from your home's foundation. You might consider getting downspout extenders just to make sure the water runs away from your foundation. Make sure that if you have an outside stair to your basement door, you clear the drain at the bottom of those stairs. If that area fills with water, you will have water in your basement.
When it comes to your windows: put up window screens and drop storm windows if you have them. Secure anything around your home (patio furniture, hoses, umbrellas, etc.) that may become airborne. Also, secure your gas grill in your garage or shed.
After you've made sure your home is prepared, FEMA recommends making an emergency supply kit. The kit should be able to help you and your family could survive on your own for at least three days. It should include items like water (at least a gallon of water per person per day for at least three days). Your kit should also include a three-day supply of non-perishable foods like canned foods. Don't forget the manual can opener. Other items like flashlights, batteries and a hand-crank or battery-powered radio are also important to include.
When it comes to tap water, you'll lose it as soon as the power goes out if you live on a well. Also, some people who live in high rises may lose drinking water if the power goes out. For all of us, if the storm is strong enough, we could lose clean drinking water due to water main problems, or water plant problems. To avoid this problem, FEMA recommends filling up water bottles now. You can also fill up bathtubs and large containers with water in case tap water isn't available. Use bathtub water for cleaning purposes only or for flushing the toilets.