KENT COUNTY (WZZM) -- Millions of residents along the East Coast are without power and many are trapped inside homes where streets have turned into rivers. How do you survive in the wake of a storm like Sandy until help arrives? Experts say you do so by planning ahead.
"I think one of the things is, people wait until the weather is upon us. The time to prepare for a winter storm is now. Now is the time to get your batteries, radios, food and can goods," said Lt. Jack Stewart, Kent County Emergency Management Coordinator.
Stewart says winter storms are the biggest natural threat Michigan residents face. Although they don't hit with the intensity of a storm like Hurricane Sandy, they can leave residents without power and trapped inside for days.
This week, the world witnessed people in Sandy's path rushing into stores to get last minute supplies before the storm crippled their cities. Stewart says it's smart to store those supplies somewhere safe, in our homes, well in advance of a severe weather forecast..
Jack Stewart, Kent County Emergency Management Coordinator: "You have to be absolutely able to care for yourself for three days. And quite frankly depending on the severity of the storm and how badly the services have been impacted it could be a week.
"I think there is a complacency if you will, that nothing extreme is going to happen in beautiful West Michigan. I hope that is true but I believe in Murphys Law," said Melissa Ponstein, Kent County Regional Homeland Security Planner. "You need a lot of water to drink and then cleaning clothes and cleaning dishes. I recommend having a whole lot of paper products on hand because people don't realize how fast they go through paper products.
As far as water, it is advised to have at least one gallon of water per person per day to drink. But, Ponstein says store as much as you have space for.
While basic human needs, like water, are easy to remember some things are easier to forget. Like can openers.
Stewart says remember to have can openers near your 3-day supply of non-perishable food and keep matches or a lighter nearby as well.
Emergency management officials also recommend keeping an up to date first aid kit along with any medications you need.
In Michigan, your extra blankets, batteries and flashlights will come in handy if you are without power and heat.
One thing often overlooked is garbage bags. People are advised to keep those and personal wipes in a kit for personal sanitation, in case you are without plumbing.
Vist Kent County's website for a video, brochures and a 12 month citizen preparedness program to help your family put together an emergency kit for your home and car.