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Shoppers scramble to grab last-minute supplies ahead of Sandy

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Shoppers scramble to grab last-minute supplies ahead of Sandy
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A storm of shoppers hit the stores as Sandy inches closer, but people who wait till the last minute to buy supplies might head home disappointed. Our Sarah Blazonis shows us what businesses are running out of as people rush to protect their homes.

ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Some were inspired by past storms.

"The memory of the Labor Day storm several years ago is why I'm buying today, because that incapacitated us for more than a week," said Cave Luther, a Nedrow resident who stopped by Lowe's to pick up chains for his chainsaw in the case of downed trees.

Others say they just weren't prepared.

"Did an inventory of flashlights and batteries and found I had very few flashlights, and those that I had were dead," said Joe Catello, an Elbridge resident shopping at Home Depot.

But, when it came down to it, most shoppers had one goal in mind: staying one step ahead of Sandy.

"Everyone's been buying tarps, they've been buying gas cans, generators when we had them," said Cory Slater, a Lowe's assistant manager.

Stores say generators are the item everyone is trying to get their hands on. Many locations, including some Lowe's and Home Depots, are sold out, and it wasn't just Central New Yorkers who wanted to stock up.

"We're getting a lot of calls coming through from Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, from people wanting to travel up this way to get supplies from us, as they're on the coast and everything on the coast has been sold out," said April Beardsley, a Merchandising Assistant Manager at Home Depot.

Staff at the Home Depot say safety should be the number one concern when operating a generator. That means buying the proper cord to connect the generator to the house, and never making your own makeshift extension cord from two separate cords.

Storage is another issue.

"A lot of people will try to put them in the basement and use them, absolutely taboo. You really can't do that because the exhaust from the gas will asphyxiate people," said Richard Jarosz, a Home Depot Electrical Associate.

Store representatives also suggest picking up tarps to protect property from high winds.

Whatever your storm needs, they say the earlier you pick them up, the better since everything from batteries to water is going fast.

Both Lowe's and the Home Depot say they can place special orders for customers who still need generators.

Generator safety tips from the Norwich Emergency Management Office include:

• Engines emit carbon monoxide. NEVER use a generator inside your home, garage, crawl space, or other enclosed areas. Fatal fumes can build up, that neither a fan nor open doors and windows can provide enough fresh air.

• Only use your generator outdoors, away from open windows, vents, or doors.

• Use a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector in the area you’re running a generator.

• Gasoline and its vapors are extremely flammable. Allow the generator engine to cool at least 2 minutes before refueling and always use fresh gasoline. If you do not plan to use your generator in 30 days, don’t forget to stabilize the gas with fuel stabilizer.

• Never plug your generator directly into your home outlet. If you are connecting a generator into your home electrical system, have a qualified electrician install a Power Transfer Switch.

• Generators produce powerful voltage - Never operate under wet conditions. Take precautions to protect your generator from exposure to rain and snow.

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