by Patrick Appel
From Jeff Master's forecast:
Irene is likely to cause one of the top-five most widespread power outages in American history from a storm. The record power outage from a Northeast storm was probably the ten million people that lost power during the great Blizzard of 1993. I don't think Irene's power outages will be quite that extensive, but several million people will likely lose power.
More hurricane tips from a reader in New Orleans:
1. If you leave, put all of the food in your freezer and fridge into “contractor” garbage bags. If you lose power, you can throw it out when you get back and save yourself from the stench of having to clean out the fridge, and it can also ruin your fridge. If you don’t lose power, you can just pull it out of the bags and all is normal.
2. If you have an answering machine and a land line, make sure it is on so you can check to see if you have power or not while out of town.
3. If you stay, make your own ice by freezing full water bottles. Keep them in an ice chest so they can keep other items cold. Save your cubes for your cocktails. When power goes out, ice is like gold. After the ice melts, you have more drinking water in case the water systems is knocked out.
4. Also, place as much as you can in your freezer. It will help the freezer stay colder, longer. You will be eating the food in it in the days that follow. Place things that you go to often in your ice chest. Try to open the doors to the fridge as little as possible. Your fridge will keep things cold for about two days.
5. And lastly, if you are going to leave, leave now and take the mandatory vacation. Go far if you can. Don’t go 90 miles away so that you lose power in your hotel room with sealed windows.
If you don't have water bottles to freeze, ziplock bags filled with water also work.