Hurricane Irene is on her way up the coast.  You never know what’s going to happen, so be prepared for the worst. . . to lose power, running water, or maybe spend a couple days in the dark (as unlikely as it is). The Essentials: Food : Non-perishable food like ready-to-eat fruits and veggies *don’t forget the can opener Pre-packaged snacks like crackers, granola bars, trail mix, cookies *must have comfort foods – weather extremes can be stressful Plastic utensils, paper cups and plates Water – lots and lots of bottled water : Factor in 1gallon/person/day for a minimum of 3 days. First Aid Kit and any Prescription Meds you may need Toiletries –baby wipes and hand sanitizer are a great idea– they can clean just about anything Pillows and Blankets Weather Appropriate Clothing . . . like a poncho and rain boots Flashlights and Extra Batteries A Battery-Operated Radio Things to Entertain Yourselves: Cards, Books, Games, Handheld Game Consoles Anything you Can’t Live Without – like your child’s favorite stuffed animal, your Red Sox hat, or instant coffee. What type of emergency assistance is available?Check the internet or listen to the local news to learn about emergency assistance in your area.  Especially if you are new to town, you may not know what is available.  Often towns open up schools or other facility that can be used as emergency shelters in times of need. If you are staying home, please do your best to stay away from windows, glass, and using electricity. Have a communication plan. Pick an out of area friend or relative to check in with.  If anyone in your family gets separated, this is a great way to make sure everyone checks in with the same person. Other Helpful Tips: * Keep your gas tanks filled to at least ½ at all times.  When it comes storm time, lines often get long (I’m talking hours . . .) and gas station may even run out of gas! *Collect all the important documents in a waterproof plastic bag for safe keeping. There are many other ways you can prepare, including boarding up your windows and making a plan for your pets, but it is unlikely Hurricane Irene is going to destroy everything is sight.  It has been years since that last hurricane actually hit Massachusetts, and days before it has reached New England, Irene has been downgraded to a category 2.  So keep your eyes and ears open, be prepared, but don’t be disappointed when we only get a rainstorm.