Be Ready: Prep Your Family For a Hurricane With a Hurricane Kit
For most parts of the country, June 1 marks the beginning of a lazy, carefree summer. In Florida, it also marks the beginning of a season that is much less fondly considered…hurricane season.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 into November, usually with storms peaking around between August through October.
— Keri|FlipFlopWeekend (@flipflopweekend) June 1, 2018
Early on in my career, I was fortunate to work for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, where I was surrounded by incredible Emergency Management Professionals. They served to educate and train individuals on disaster preparedness and provide relief in emergency situations.
I am grateful to have learned from their knowledge and have always made it a point to have a disaster preparedness kit for my family and encourage others to have the same.
Note to Travelers:
Have you ever wondered why Caribbean Cruises are pretty cheap in September and October? Consider this entire post as a huge clue (2 words—travel insurance).
If you plan on visiting our fine State during hurricane season ( June 1 -November 1), I highly suggest you download the Hurricane app from the American Red Cross for updates and a ton of helpful info.
When preparing, it is important to consider your location in Florida, your living establishment and what your family’s unique needs may be.
For example, as we live a bit more inland, our biggest threat tends to be the loss of power.
Friends on the coast have to consider their needs in the event of an evacuation.
We also live in an apartment. So, we don’t generally have to worry about boarding our windows and we do not have a generator. We have embraced the fact that our fridge would fail and food would spoil. But, we are not really comfortable with having to keep generator fuel in our small space.
If we owned a home with a garage, this would definitely be a must. ( Update: We purchased a home in May 2018 and I totally purchased a generator right away.)
Instead, if there is an impending storm, I will cook some of the meat in my fridge ( like my apple-whiskey BBQ ribs) and make sure we have re-usable ice-packs and a cooler in the house to store as much cooked, edible food as possible.
In my kit, I keep everything together in just two totes.
You may wonder why I do this when the odds are low that we would ever have to evacuate due to our inland status. It is important to create a hurricane kit with completely separate items than what you use daily. This way, you can stock it once and only check it once a year to make sure nothing has expired.
Additionally, you can easily put it in a car in the event of an evacuation and, if nothing else, who wants to be hunting all over their house for stuff in the dark? Despite some different needs that your family may have than mine, there are still some basic necessities that you should have on hand and ready in the event a storm brews.
The American Red Cross suggests you prepare for a 3-day supply, one gallon per day, per person.
You also need to consider water for washing, cooking and flushing toilets. We generally drink bottled water anyway.
During hurricane season, I generally try to keep 4 or 5 cases in a closet at a time.
Then, at the first mention of a possible hurricane, I run to Aldi and grab 3-4 more cases. It sounds like paranoia, but the day before Matthew was coming in, guess what I wasn’t doing?
That’s right. I wasn’t hunting all over town fighting for the last case of water that has been jacked up in price.
In addition to the bottled water, I will rinse out some used jugs of water and juice and fill with tap water to store in the back of our bathroom cupboard. This water will come in handy for flushing toilets.
If you do this, make sure to label it as non-drinking water, since water can become stale.
Canned food (fruit, vegetables and soup), Ramen are all items with a long shelf life to have on hand that can be easily heated up. Make sure you have easy access to a manual can opener or that the cans have a tab to be easily opened when you are without power. Consider stocking up on items like powdered milk, instant coffee and water flavorings. These will make life a bit more comfortable in a power outage. I know I wouldn’t last 3 days without power and some form of caffeine. The instant coffee is essential. Also stash some Styrofoam plates, dishes and utensils, so you don’t have to worry about using water to wash dishes.
Matches, flashlights, candles, lighters, batteries....stock up.
Don’t discriminate on the batteries. Get AAA, AA, C and D…all sizes. Different flashlights, radios, etc. have different sizes. You don’t want to be stuck without what you need.
First Aid Kit
I keep various first aid supplies in a small tote that I store in the larger hurricane kit.
My kit has gauze, alcohol, band-aids, pain reliever, burn cream, allergy medicine, neosporin,etc.)
You can easily put together your own hurricane kit at the Dollar Store.
Generally, we use higher end pain relievers and allergy meds. But, I like to use the dollar store brands for medicines that may or may not get used before expiring. This way, that I don’t feel bad if I have to pitch them while restocking. Plus, again, even though you may have these things at home, it is nice to keep in a separate location for emergencies. Simply check at the beginning of every hurricane season to make sure medication hasn’t expired.
My kit has a few items that may or may not first come to mind when you think of preparedness.
Butane Stove or Camp Stove
You are going to want to heat water and cook some soup. Being in an apartment, we have to be able to utilize something inside or on the balcony. A charcoal or propane grill isn’t the best option. We purchased this Coleman Butane Stove for our kit. It was affordable and is easy to store. You can purchase the canisters of fuel online, but I found ours super cheap at the local Asian market, of all places. I have 8 cans in the kit, and each canister can provide about 3 hours of cook time.
I mentioned in my last post about how we utilize our portable cell phone charger at Disney. We also keep one charged and in our hurricane kit. If any cell service is still available, we would be able to keep an eye on the radar and communicate with relatives as soon as possible. Worst case scenario, pass the time by playing some virtual Tetris even if our phones can’t access a signal.
Yep. Glowsticks offer some fun light when the power is out, and the kids love playing with them. You can usually find these on clearance racks after Halloween or July 4th. Hurricane rave, anyone?
I know some of you may think I am crossing into “crazy, paranoia, survivalist” land here. Truth is, you never know when and how a water supply can be compromised in a natural disaster. I consider having Emergency Water Purification Tablets as a little added insurance in case water is out longer than anticipated.
Grab a couple of tarps to add to your kit, to add some protection in case a window shatters or you end up in an area with a ton of debris. Plus, you can lay it down for a clean area to walk if dirt and dust happen to come in through a broken window. It is essentially imperative if you own a home and need some temporary protection in the event of roof damage. You can purchase tarp pretty cheaply at Home Depot, Lowe’s or Amazon. Duct tape, cord and bungee cords to secure the tarp will be helpful, as well.
There is more you can add!
There is more you can add to this list, but my post would be pages long.
In addition to these highlights, I also include items like napkins, antibacterial hand wipes, plastic utensils, plus playing cards and puzzles for the kids.
In a stressful situation for kids, it could make a difference having a new, small toy to pull out and play with together by flashlight.
Just know that preparation is key.
When Matthew and Irma were heading our way, we were so calm, because we were ready to hunker down. Don’t be the last one on the street hunting for water. You never know when disaster may strike. But, a little preparation can make a stressful situation just a little bit easier.
I recommend checking out this Hurricane Safety Checklist from the American Red Cross to help you prepare your family’s disaster preparation kit TODAY!
What’s in your kit? Let me know in the comments and feel free to share this handy infographic!