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Five Ways New Yorkers Can Prepare Their Homes Ahead of Hurricane Sandy

By  Jim Scott and Michael P. Ventura | October 28, 2012 5:21pm 

 Kitchen designer George Monos hangs wood planks over the front windows of Waterfront Kitchens on Van Brunt Street in Red Hook.
Kitchen designer George Monos hangs wood planks over the front windows of Waterfront Kitchens on Van Brunt Street in Red Hook.
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DNAInfo/Alan Neuhauser

1. Find Out if You Live in an Evacuation Zone.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has issued a mandatory evacuation of the low-lying coastal areas of the city, including parts of lower Manhattan, Red Hook, Long Island City and coastal Brooklyn and Staten Island.

See the city’s map of at-risk areas to find out whether you’re among those being evacuated.

In addition to those living in the low-lying regions, which could experience a storm surge from the nearby rivers as Hurricane Sandy approaches the city, people living in apartments higher than the 10th floor should also look for alternative places to stay, as they could be exposed to special risks, experts say.

“The higher up you are, the more likely you’re gonna get a stronger wind gust,” said Tom Kines, a senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com. “Broken windows could come into play.”

2. Secure Your Doors and Windows.

To avoid the possibility of broken widows, some may choose to board their windows up with wood. If that isn’t a possibility, experts recommend placing duct tape in an "x" shape across the widow to reduce the risk of glass flying into the apartment.

“That would prevent it from shattering or splintering,” said Michael Rielly, Director of Planning and Response at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia. “Generally you want to stay away from windows.”

City-dwellers should also protect against leaks by making sure their windows and doors are securely closed and water-tight. If you’re using a widow air conditioner and you’re able to remove it, you should do so so that you can close the window fully and avoid the possibility of the unit coming loose.

If you’re not able to make your door water-tight and you live at or below street-level, Rielly recommends moving your valued items away from the entrance.

3. Bring Everything in from Outside.

While most New Yorkers won’t have to worry about securing patio furniture, those with outdoor space, should be sure to bring in all loose objects.

“You don’t want to leave stuff outside because when you do they can become missiles,” warned Brian Ciemnecki, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “If you have balconies or a small backyard, you’ll want to bring whatever’s out there inside.”

4. Stock Up.

Even those outside of the evacuation zones could find themselves without utilities, like gas, water and electricity, for days or even a week, Kines said.

The city’s Office of Emergency Management advised New Yorkers to prepare an emergency supply kit with at least three days of non-perishable, ready-to-eat food and a gallon of drinking water per person per day.

The kits should also include a flashlight, a battery-operated radio, extra batteries, a whistle, iodine tablets or unscented bleach for disinfecting water (in the event that health officials recommend doing so), personal hygiene products, and first aid supplies.

The OEM also suggested taking out some extra cash, in small denominations, and securing important documents in water-proof plastic bags.

Other experts suggest filling your bathtub or sink in advance of the storm and lowering the temperature in your refrigerator to extent the time it remains cool in the event you lose power.

5. Stay Indoors.

Most importantly, experts are urging residents to stay indoors until they get official word that the storm has passed.

Falling glass, tree limbs and other debris are all strong possibilities, according to Dr. Rielly.

“We see that a lot in hurricanes,” Rielly said. “So it's important to stay inside.”

To stay up-to-date on the latest developments, New Yorkers can follow the OEM on Facebook and Twitter.