It is time to invest in Hurricane Irene. That does not mean to buy stocks, oil, or precious metals. It means spending money to make sure you can ride out the storm. Your total cost will vary, depending on what you already have in stock.
1. Save your financial life. Get a a water-proof case for key financial records, stock certificates, and personal records. A large cooler will do, if it can be securely sealed.
2. Get your cellphone and PC ready. Each may come in handy if you are trapped indoors for a couple of days. And if you lose electricity, products like the "Power Monkey" ($50) could come in handy. Some come with the ability to use the sun to charge the device.
3. Get some cheap walkie talkies. These can definitely keep you in touch with loved ones for up to a mile if you have to make it out into the storm in an emergency.
4. Three flashlights should be enough for two or three days with new batteries in them. And, you probably already have a flashlight somewhere. Spend a few dollars on new batteries.
5. Get a mobile inverter for your car. It connects to a car's battery or through the cigarette lighter Make sure you have jumper cables in case you need to charge the battery in the SUV that might be needed to travel in the storm. The car battery will last longer if the car is running, so, don't forget to fill up your tank. That tank of gas may be the most expensive thing on the list because regular is still about $3.60 most places.
7. Everyone needs toilet paper. Eight rolls will probably cost less than $10. While you're at it, get some paper towels, too.
8. Load up on plastic garbage bags. They're good for garbage, and to put up on windows if the glass is broken by high wind. Two big packages might cost $20.
9. Fill your tub(s) with water. Clean them first. The water may be absolutely necessary. Depending on what your city or town charges for water, the cost may be a few cents. If you have a well, it's virtually free.
10. Keep a few hundreds dollars in cash. You may need it if you run out of essentials and ATM machines are not working for whatever reason. It may seem like a lot of dough, but if you don't spend it, you don't loss a dime - except for a fee you might pay for get the money from a cash machine that is not at a branch of your bank.
11. Sandbags. These are expensive, but some stores are already selling out as customers stock up. In many cases, municipal authorities, local fire or police offices, or state disaster relief organizations give these out.
12. Generators. These are also pricey. But, if you don't have a car battery or solar power, they may be necessary. Sears sells them for as little as $429.99. And, you can keep them for the next time a storm or summer power outage pulls the plug on your electricity.
Gallery: Costliest Hurricanes