Here is some more information from officials at the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for before and after the hurricane.

--On carbon monoxide: This is generated by gas-powered appliances such as generators and charcoal and gas grills. It's invisible, odorless, tasteless and highly poisonous.

Signs of trouble include fatigue, weakness, chest pains for those with heart disease, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion, impaired vision and loss of consciousness. Officials recommend not using the appliances inside the home or close to windows outside. Sparks may also cause fires.

--On emergency kits: When you get a kit together make sure to include all regularly taken prescription medications and first aid items. Officials point to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for advice on packing the rest of the kit:

+one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation +at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food +battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both +flashlight and extra batteries +first aid kit +whistle to signal for help +dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place +moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation +wrench or pliers to turn off utilities +can opener for food (if kit contains canned food) +local maps +cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

--For after the storm: If the electricity goes out, remember food is likely to spoil, according to the state Office of Food Protection and Consumer Services.

Perishable foods from the refrigerator and freezer that climb above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours should be discarded. That's all meat, milk, yogurt, eggs, mayonnaise and dressings, pastas and deserts.

Food that keeps for a limited time without refrigeration includes hard process cheeses (cheddar, Swiss, provolone, Romano and Parmesan), butter and margarine, opened canned fruits and fruit juices, peanut butter, jellies, jams, mustard and vinegar based dressings, rolls, muffins, bagels, waffles, and herbs, spices and raw vegetables.

It is okay to refreeze food that still contain ice crystals and feels cold and hard to the touch. Toss anything that comes in contact with floodwaters including canned goods. Give a good washing to utensils, pots, plates and other items with hot soapy water and sanitize them by boiling in clean water or immersing them in a solution of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach per quart of water for 15 minutes.

Spoiled good should be double bagged in plastic, tied and put in animal proof cans.

A well functioning freezer half full will usually stay cold enough for food for 24 hours. Fully stocked and unopened, the freezer will keep food safe for 48 hours. If in doubt, throw it out.

*** Aug. 25, 2011 10:19 AM

The city's Office of Emergency Management is monitoring Hurricane Irene, which could bring heavy rains, flooding and possible power outages across Maryland over the weekend. And city officials are asking residents to be prepared.

They suggest getting a three-day supply of water, a battery operated AM/FM radio and a flashlight. Some non-perishable food and some non-electric entertainment might not be a bad idea to have on hand too.

"As we have learned from previous hurricanes, just because we are not in the eye of the storm does not mean we are free from danger," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, in a statement. "High winds, rain, and a storm surge can cause flooding and downed power lines. It is absolutely vital that we prepare for whatever Mother Nature throws our way."

For the latest updates, go to Frank Roylance's weather blog.

UPDATE: More tips on getting ready are at http://www.ready.gov/america/getakit/index.html. It suggests gathering prescriptions, glasses, cell phones and chargers, pet food, baby supplies, a first aid kit and other items that could last a week.