Rattle and Ho-Hum

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Rob Daly, Sell-Side Technology

Maybe it's the jaded New Yorker in me or the fact that I appear to be the only person in Manhattan that totally missed this week's earthquake, but I'm feeling that the hype knob is clearly set to "11" over Hurricane Irene, which is barrelling up the East Coast.

Please, don't get me wrong. Hurricanes are probably the most dangerous weather situation on the books. But adding an unnecessary level of hysteria to the mix is throwing gasoline on to an already raging fire. The best thing to do in situations like this is to keep a level head. The best way to do that is be prepared, have a plan and keep the lines of communications open.

Listening to the disaster experts, everyone should have at supply of water and non-perishable food to last at least three days as well as a stock of any necessary medications. Do not play to the New Yorker stereotype and think you will be able to order take out during the storm. Also make sure that you also have enough batteries on hand for flashlights and lanterns. Candles are romantic, but they're also a fire hazard. Do not make the local fire company come out in this weather, they already have plenty to do.

As for a plan, does your family have an evacuation plan? If you had to leave for higher ground, do you already have a place selected and do you know what to pack? If your family is separated during Irene, do you have a remote relative or friend, who will act as a relay for messages and information? Please take half an hour with your family and sort these things out.

Over the past couple of years, I have seen various emergency alert systems mature dramatically. Many municipalities have set up email and text-based alerts that can be sent straight to your mobile phone. I've been a subscriber to the New York City Office of Emergency Management's Notify NYC service since its inception and I recently signed up for my hometown alerts via Nixle. Also don't forget to keep tabs on your local mass transit providers like the MTA or New Jersey Transit.

Most importantly, don't forget to have a battery-powered weather or transistor radio on hand, just in case the cell towers and phone lines go down.

Good luck and I look forward to swaping Irene stories with you on Monday.

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