With Hurricane Sandy upon us, it's smart to be prepared for heavy flooding, power outages and other storm damage.

Many people prepared over the weekend by bringing in outdoor furniture, garbage cans and Halloween decorations.

Dave Schrader, spokesperson for the American Red Cross in Philadelphia, says it's not too late to do some smart and "quick planning" during the storm.

"One thing we tell people are to keep a car phone charger ready in case there is power loss," said Schrader. "We recommend that people text message instead of calling each other. If the lines are busy or down, a text may still go through."

He also recommends downloading the free Red Cross "Hurricane App," available for iPhone and Android, which monitors local conditions and has preloaded content that gives users instant access to "critical action steps" even without mobile connectivity.

The websites http://www.ready.gov/hurricanes and http://oem.readyphiladelphia.org are two great places to find valuable information about storm planning and tips.

Here are 12 helpful tips:

1. Sign up for ReadyNotifyPA, the region's emergency text and email alert system, by logging on to www.readynotifypa.org, or by texting PHILA to 411911. (The alerts are free but standard text messaging rates may apply.)

2.  If you lose power and are using a portable generator, do not, DO NOT operate it indoors. The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from doing so is high.

3. Have extra batteries, candles, matches/lighters on hand.

4. Keep your cell phone charged and preserve the charge by only using it for emergency calls. You can use your cell phone to report an outage to your service provider.

5. Know the phone numbers of your service providers, like PECO Energy Customer Service: 1-800-494-4000, PECO Energy Emergency Hotline: 1-800-841-4141, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD): 215-685-6300 and the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW): 215-235-1212

6. Keep perishables cold by turning the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keeping its doors closed. Keep Ziploc bags or other containers with water in your freezer to set around perishables in case of power loss.  That will keep them colder longer, and if you do lose power, you can use the melted water in the bags later on.

7. Prepare an evacuation kit with important papers (including insurance documents), medication and other items in case you need to evacuate your home.

8. If your home is flood-prone, elevate furniture and electronics off the floor with bricks.

9. Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.

10. Do not attempt to walk across flood water more than knee deep and never drive through flooded roadways. (One foot of moving water can sweep the average car off the road.)

11. Keep a supply of water sanitary purpose such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.


12. Know where you'll go if you need to evacuate. Check with friends and family to see if you can stay, or locate a local American Red Cross shelter in your area.

If you have other tips you'd like to share, use the commenting space below. Thanks.