Hurricanes are more than inconvenient. They can be life-threatening, as you likely saw from some of the photos I shared with you on the home page of this site.
Advance preparation is at least one way to ensure you and your family remain healthy and safe. You can start with 10 top supplies for a hurricane. Because there are obviously more than just 10 things you’ll need, I’ll try to break down each primary category into some sub-groups or topics.
When you are preparing for dangerous storms, do not underestimate the importance of water. First, you will need fresh water to drink. Safely store a two-week supply, with one gallon per day for each person. Remember to store water for your pets, too.
Of course in some cases if you are collecting rain or creek water (for example), you will need to be sure you can safely DRINK the water. Have supplies available to boil your water or otherwise treat or filter it.
In the mountains where I live in the summer, we frequently drink stream water – AFTER we have filtered it. We personally use an MSR Water Filter which we have had for years (it’s lightweight for camping).
The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is lightweight (2 oz) and highly rated, and will filter enough water for a year (they say!).
Regardless of the water filter you decide on, make sure that in addition to the water you have set aside ahead of time, that you have a filtration system as well. There are no guarantees that potable water will be available right away once the storm, earthquake, or whatever disaster you are facing passes.
You will need additional water for other purposes. Water will be needed for personal grooming, cleaning, and cooking.
Store at least a week’s worth of food for your family. The food should be non-perishable, and in containers that cannot be damaged. One good example is MRE, or Meals Ready to Eat. These products are nutritious and surprisingly tasty these days.
As you may be without power, choose appropriate fuel for cooking. Include a manual can opener in your kit of food.
Consider your family’s special needs. This may include pet food, baby food, infant formula, or foods for individuals on special diets.
A generator is a simple approach to health, safety, and convenience during storms. Even if you lose power, you will still have light in your home. For about $1,000 you can get a generator that will be powerful enough to run your refrigerator. I have used one of these more than once, and I can attest to how helpful they are.
Fortunately, we have a wood stove. This came in handy during the last big storm that left us without power for a week. If we did not have the stove, the generator would have powered a portable heater.
My brother in law has a whole-house generator. But, of course that – along with any other generator will be useless without ample fuel to run it. So make sure you have fuel on hand as well!
A solar-powered generator is much “cleaner” than a gasoline powered one. While they are available in different sizes, if you want one for emergency use only, the Kodiak Lightweight Portable Solar Generator by Inergy Solaris about 20 pounds, and costs somewhere in the $1,500 range. You would certainly be able to run your laptops, 12 volt appliances and cell phones on it. Something to think about.
Even if you are accustomed to using debit cards or credit cards in your everyday life, cash can come in handy during storms. Think about it: If the power lines are down (along with other lines of communication), a business may not be in a position to process a credit or debit card transaction even if they ARE able to open their doors. There is a bit of discussion about this on various money and survival forums.
One person who lives in a hurricane prone area said that she felt about $250 should be set aside for emergencies. This should include change and bills in smaller denominations.
Think about what you might need to buy over the course of the following days and weeks, and plan accordingly.
And store it appropriately (and carefully).
Which brings me to…
5. Waterproof Containers
Waterproof containers should hold important items. Driver’s licenses, social security cards, birth certificates, and medical information are some examples. You may also have photographs, banking information, insurance policies, and other documents that must be preserved.
This would be a good place to store at least some of the cash. In my house, we have a small waterproof and fireproof container that holds our vital papers and a little bit of cash. If something happened where we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare or evacuate, at least we could grab that.
Items that you use regularly can be copied so you can keep one set in these safe containers.
Come to think of it, that particular container is also just large enough for a Luci Solar Light and a few other things!
6. First Aid Kit, Hygiene, & Medical Supplies
You can buy a ready-made first aid kit from your local pharmacy, but there may be a number of other items you need to add. Someone in your household may take prescription medications. Ask his doctor if it is safe and legal to obtain a second set of medications to keep in the kit. If not, the doctor can recommend an alternative. If at all possible, keep your medications rotated to ensure that should the time come where you must evacuate, you are taking the freshest supplies with you.
Consider the over-the-counter products your family may need. Examples can include aspirin, non-aspirin substitutes, vitamins, and allergy products. Don’t forget feminine supplies. Check the expiration dates before you add them to your kit. Include hand sanitizers and a supply of wet wipes, too.
The American Red Cross has some more extensive guidelines on items to include, along with suggested quantities. See their suggestions at https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/anatomy-of-a-first-aid-kit.html
As I looked at the Red Cross ideas, I thought about our own first aid kit that we travel with. In it, we also have a tube of an oral analgesic (in case of toothache), and a few wrist and other braces (since I am prone to certain strains). If I were in a survival situation, and I tripped, I’d need that brace!
Because my eyesight is not considered optimal, I NEVER travel without a spare pair of eyeglasses.
If you don’t already have emergency medical contact phone numbers in with your important papers, make sure they are in with your first aid supplies.
Remember that toilets may not be functioning, so have an emergency “Honey Bucket” on hand as well.
7. Clothes and Bedding
You might not necessarily think about this other than tossing a few fresh pair of socks and underwear into a suitcase. When you are in your home you probably don’t think about this. Having seen what it looks like in an evacuation shelter during a hurricane, I confess it has become a little more important.
Again, I draw on my camping experiences here. We have lightweight sleeping bags and pads all rolled up and ready to go. I’d recommend a sheet as well (the inside of a sleeping bag can get pretty clammy).
If you are going to be evacuating to someone’s home, don’t assume they have a lovely guest room ready and waiting for you. Be prepared!
Roll up a towel and wash cloth into the mix while you’re at it.
8. Communication Devices
During a severe storm, you do not want to lose touch with the outside world whether you are sheltering in your house or in an evacuation situation. Your cell phone should always be charged, and you should also keep extra phone chargers in your emergency kit.
Of course, there is no guarantee that you’ll actually have any cell service during or following a storm, but you’ll be ready when service is restored.
When we discussed generators earlier, we mentioned solar-powered generators. Well, they now have solar-powered chargers as well. The Sun Jack is probably my personal favorite!
You will need fresh supplies of batteries for a number of products in your kit. Purchase a battery-operated clock, at least one flashlight, and a radio. There is no excuse to not have a weather radio, especially if you live in a storm/tornado prone area. We’ll cover this more extensively in our article about emergency radios.
Flares and whistles are also communication devices. If you are trapped in your house, or experience an emergency situation, they can help you alert others so you can obtain help. Flares and whistles have a wider range of sound, so consider them among your 10 top supplies for a hurricane.
9. Plastic Sheeting and Duct Tape
These two items should be included in your 10 top supplies for a hurricane. A leak can occur when you do not expect it, and even small leaks can cause damage and health issues.
When you have these items easily accessible, you can quickly patch up leaks. The interior of your home can stay dry, and so will your family and pets.
10. Entertainment Supplies
It is comforting to be in your home during a hurricane, but it is easy to become bored. This includes the adults as well as the children. As no one should risk going outdoors until the authorities let you know it is safe, pack plenty of entertainment supplies for everyone in your household.
The same is true if you are evacuating.
Consider age-appropriate entertainment, as well as personal preferences. Some examples include books and magazines, paper and colored pencils for drawing, board games that everyone enjoys, cards, and toys that will keep the youngest children occupied.
As you will not have access to electronics if there is a power outage, these are only a few of the items you can use without electricity. You will not have to run down your cell phone battery playing games, or worry that your children will become bored and fidgety.
Safety During A Hurricane
Advance preparation with these supplies can help you stay safe, but there is another factor to consider. You also need to develop a safety plan, and include your entire family in the planning.
If you intend to remain in your house during a severe storm, choose a safe place for everyone to meet. Two examples to consider are the garage or the basement. You will be protected if tree limbs fall or glass windows break.
Present the safety plan to your children in a non-threatening way so they do not become frightened. Even the younger children can learn to immediately go to the safe place where the rest of the family is gathered. They will feel more secure when they know what to do during an emergency.
When you plan in advance, and have all your supplies together, your family and pets can be healthy, safe, and comfortable until the storm is over. Preparing has an additional benefit. Even if you live in an area where hurricanes are common, you can have peace of mind.