Hurricane season is June 1st thru November 30th, and if you live on or near the coast, this time period has special meaning for you. The major concerns during a hurricane are flooding and high winds, and the resulting damage can vary from total destruction to a simple loss of power depending on where you live. Here are some suggestions for preparing a hurricane kit that will help you survive one of nature’s most destructive forces.
- Food- Don’t assume you will be able to go grocery shopping at your local store to get supplies as soon as the storm is over. Even if your favorite convenience store survived the hurricane and is still standing, it may not have electricity with which to operate, which means you will need to be self-sufficient until things get back to normal. This means having enough food for each person for at least a 3-4 day period. Canned and/or dehydrated food is a good choice, since you might not have gas or electricity to cook with after the storm. Include items such as paper plates, cups, eating utensils, and trash bags.
- Water- The recommended amount of water is one gallon per person per day, more if the weather is very hot. If you have pets, don’t forget to include enough water for them as well.
- Flashlights – In the event of a power outage, you will need flashlights or lanterns to light your way at night. Battery-powered flashlights or lanterns are one option, solar yard lights are another. The solar-powered lights will save on batteries, but you will need sunny weather after the storm to keep them charged. Candles and/or kerosene lanterns should be avoided due to fire hazards, dangerous fumes, and soot buildup on your walls that will result from use inside a tightly closed house during a storm.
- Medications- Be sure to include a two-week supply of any medications. Power crews work overtime to restore electricity after a storm, yet it can be days or even weeks before power is restored to your local pharmacy. Running out of vital medication can make a serious situation even more dangerous.
- Cash – No electricity means no way to process a credit or debit purchase. After a storm, many stores will be operating on emergency generator power, and will do business on a cash only basis. Have enough cash on hand to make any necessary purchases.
- Gasoline- Gas pumps rely on electricity to operate. Without power, you will be unable to purchase gas. Fill up the gas tanks in all of your vehicles before the storm, and remember to buy enough extra for your generator if you have one. It is also helpful to have a siphon hose in case you need to transfer gas from one vehicle to another.
- Emergency kit- It is helpful to expand the basic first aid kit to include water purification tablets, salt tablets, sunscreen, bug spray, hand disinfectant /soap, and aloe vera gel. These things will come in handy if you have major clean-up work to do outside after the storm.
- Radio- An emergency radio is vital to keep abreast of changing weather conditions. There are battery operated models as well as hand crank models available.
- Tarp and rope- These will be useful if you need to make a temporary repair on a roof, or tie something down in a strong wind.
- Secure Important Documents- Paperwork such as birth certificates, car titles, insurance policies, medical records, passports, etc. should be kept in a safe place, or be taken with you if you evacuate. You wouldn’t want these sensitive documents to be scattered all over the neighborhood if your home is damaged from high winds or floods.
- Pictures- Take pictures or create a video of the furnishings inside your house in case you need to file an insurance claim. Such proof of ownership can expedite claim processing. Be sure to store this information in a storm-proof place, or take it with you if you evacuate.
- Travel plans- Always have an evacuation plan in mind before a storm hits. This would include the evacuation route of travel, as well as any hotel stops along the way. Hotels along evacuation routes fill up quickly during an emergency, which means it is often necessary to make reservations in advance to ensure you have a place to stay during the storm. If you have pets, you need to identify which hotels are pet friendly and which are not. You wouldn’t want to be caught with nowhere to go because there was no room at the inn for Fido.
After you have gathered all of your survival items together into a hurricane kit, the most important thing to remember is TAKE THE KIT WITH YOU if you evacuate. If you leave your kit behind, and your house is destroyed by high winds or flooding, chances are your kit will be too. With a little advance planning, you can increase your chances of survival if a hurricane targets your area.