(NEW YORK) — As East Coast cities and towns hunker down for this weekend’s snowstorm, we reached out to the experts to talk about last-minute preparations.
Russ Paulsen, executive director of community preparedness and resilience services for the American Red Cross, led the recovery program after Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina. He is the expert on community preparedness for natural disasters.
The Most Important Thing
“The most important thing people need to think about for a snowstorm is anything medical that they might need,” Paulsen told ABC News. “If the snow is already starting to fall where you are and you can only make one trip, and if you need any medical supplies, that is a trip to make.”
The Next Most Important Thing
“The second most important thing is to have food and water; food that is not going to spoil, and food that you don’t really have to cook,” he said. Making sure that your food supply is not something that can spoil or needs to be cooked is very important, especially in the event of a power outage. “People look in their fridge or freezer and think ‘I’m okay,'” Paulsen explained. “But are you okay with food you don’t have to cook? What if the power goes out for three days?”
The American Red Cross also recommends putting together a disaster supply kit together that is easily accessible. Some things to keep handy during the winter storm are a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a first aid kit.
Preparation Is Essential
Preparing beforehand is strongly advised because once the storm hits, it can be hazardous to leave your home.
“Once the snow makes the roads slick, it becomes the most common cause of fatalities during storms. A trip that can normally take thirty minutes can take three hours or more, so if you do have to go somewhere for some reason make sure you have plenty of warm layers, gas in your car, and even food and water.”
Finally, Paulsen said it is better to over prepare.
“The snow is supposed to go for almost three days straight, but it can take three days, potentially even more, after the snow stops falling for things to get back to normal, so people should be prepared for about five days or more at home,” Paulsen said.
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