by Ali Berman
Categories: People.
Photo: NASA

Most people down the south side of the east coast know the drill. Board up the windows, buy lots of supplies. But if you’re like me, near New York City or some other place that doesn’t get too many big storms, you’ll want to do a bit of research on how to prepare. To start you off, here are some tips and resources for you, your family and your pets.

For Humans

1. Lighting: Get yourself some candles, matches, batteries and if you don’t have one already, a flashlight. Power outages can cause you to be in the dark for hours, days, or even weeks. No joke.

2. Bottled Water: I know. Normally on Ecorazzi we rage against the stuff, but sometimes in a big storm, you can lose access to drinkable water. To be more eco-friendly about it, buy at least gallon sized containers. They produce less garbage than lots of little bottles. Or, you can do what I’m doing. Take all your jugs and fill them up with tap water in advance so you have some good ol’ fashion tap water at the ready.

3. Food and Medication: Stock up on foods that don’t need to be refrigerated. My favorite is peanut butter. Crackers, nuts, and canned foods like beans are good options. Anything that doesn’t depend on your refrigerator or need to be cooked. If you’re on any important medications, make sure you have enough to get your through the week.

4. Refrigerator: Before the storm, turn your refrigerator to its coldest setting. That way, if the power does go out, your food will last a bit longer. However, if your power does go out, start eating. (Keep the refrigerator door closed as much as possible to keep in the cold.)

5. Gutters: If you live in a house, make sure that you’ve cleaned out your gutters. Water is going to be coming down fast and hard so you want your gutter system to be clear to send water away from your foundation to prevent flooding.

6. Trees: If you have any dead looking branches or shrubs around your house that look like they might fly off when the wind really starts blowing, trim them now so they don’t damage your home.

7. Windows: Stay away from windows during the storm. If you live in an area that is going to get hit really badly, board up your windows.

8. Evacuation Plan: If you do need to evacuate, have a plan, and make sure it includes your pet.

This is not an exhaustive list. Just some helpful tips. Check out the FEMA site for more information on what to do before, during and after the storm.

For Pets

1. Keep Them Inside: Make sure all of your animals are inside! If you have an indoor/outdoor cat, bring him/her in now. Otherwise, they might get hurt, disoriented or worse.

2. Comfort Them: Remember, your companion is scared. Reassure them and comfort them. If they want to hide under the bed, all the better.

3. Food and Supplies: Make sure you have enough food, litter and medication (if they are on something) to get you through a week or more. It’s all about being ready for the worst case scenario.

4. Water: Remember, your companion needs water too, so get enough for everyone.

5. Tags and a Photo: In case your companion does get out, make sure he or she is wearing a tag. Also, have a recent photo.

6. Evacuation Plan: If you do need to evacuate, have a plan, and make sure it includes your pet.

7. Stay Inside: After the storm, don’t let your cat out for a few days. There may be debris and your cat might be disoriented from the strange smells and damage.

Check out HSUS’s disaster guide for more tips on how to keep your animals safe.

Any other important tips you can think of? Share them in the comments.

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is the author of Choosing a Good Life: Lessons from People Who Have Found Their Place in the World (Hazelden) and Misdirected (Seven Stories Press). She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Her published work can be found on her website at In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

View all posts by Ali Berman →
  • Missy

    Tell your neighbors to keep safe as well and just generally be on the look out for those who might need extra help and or vigilance such as the elderly and or sick. And yes, their pets as well.

    Great article. Cheers!

    • Ali Berman

      Awesome suggestion, Missy. Thanks!

  • Kate

    I’m wondering how my dogs are going to go to the bathroom. Especially since we’re advised to stay inside, and if there is flooding. They hate water.

    • Jenny

      Get some wee wee pads and lay them down in several places for them to pee on. My dogs will be using these while it’s bad outside. : )