Today, I'm a mom in waiting. My family and I are preparing for the Frankenstorm to hit the East Coast. Maybe this will be the biggest storm we've ever seen. Maybe it will be no big deal. A monster storm hit this time last year, knocking the power out for two days. What follows are lessons I learned from last year's storm. Some of these tips saved time and money. Others saved my sanity. So after you've gathered the canned foods, batteries and water, consider these:
1. Pack a suitcase (including medication and toys) before the lights go out. That way everything is ready in case you need to evacuate.
2. Add bags of ice to your freezer. It will keep food cold longer while the power is out.
3. If you have a deep freezer, put all the food from the fridge in the deep freeze to minimize loss.
4. If you evacuate to a hotel, bring an electric skillet or electric griddle, food and a cooler. Cooking in your room will save money.
5. In advance of a storm locate books, board games, toys and other entertainment that doesn't require electricity. Crayons, paper and art supplies can be a real life saver if you have kids.
6. Make a communication plan with friends and family. Decide in advance if you will stay in touch via phone, text, email or some other way.
7. If you evacuate to a friend's house, bring the fresh food from your fridge. You can share your food with your hosts and keep in from spoiling at your house while you're gone.
8. If you evacuate to a hotel, ask about their plan for hotel guests should the power go out. Some hotels have will have a generator that provides for in room power only. Meaning there will be no lights in the halls. Other hotels will have full power throughout the facility.
9. If you evacuate to a hotel, bring a swimsuit. An indoor pool is a great way to pass the time.
10. If you have a fireplace, pick up firewood before the storm.
11. If you have a gas stove you can likely cook even though the lights are out. Use a match to light the burners.
12. Charge all electronic devices (phones, games, iPod/iPad, portable DVD player) and locate car chargers.
13. Clean the house before the storm. It's easier to locate necessary items if they are in their rightful place. Also, there's nothing worse than stepping on toys, valuables or a wayward battery in the dark.
14. Stock up on pet food and supplies including litter, newspaper and wee wee pads. If your pet needs to potty indoors, being prepared can reduce the mess, odor and frustration.
15. Sign up for text alerts from your state emergency management center and local utility companies.
16. If you participate in a credit card or hotel points program, check you point balance. You may be able to use points for a local hotel, flights or gas.
17. Ask about distress rates at local hotels and apartment buildings. During a recent storm our local hotel was sold out but a nearby luxury apartment building rented out their model units for a very good rate. The apartment building didn't advertise the rentals, but offered the available units to area families that called and asked.
18. If you have to leave your home, leave your porch light on. This allows friends and neighbors check if your power is on without entering your house.
19. Go for a walk or exercise before the storm. You'll likely feel less restless when stuck inside if you have a good workout under your belt.
20. Keep a camera handy. Not only can you record fun storm memories, but you'll also be able to photograph any damage to your home, car or other property.
Be safe and enjoy the storm!