I have had the pleasure of experiencing and surviving Hurricanes Ike and Harvey as well as Tropical Storm Allison just to name a few. The truly scary events have been the unnamed storms, just fronts that come in during the spring, in our area that were accompanied by major flood events in the South Texas area. Each event has made me aware of deficits in my preparedness for my family, I don’t want you to feel the stress and burden from not being properly prepared for something that you can be ready for.
My recent Experience: During Hurricane Harvey I stocked up my home with food and water about 4 days before landfall, the rest of the gear I already had as a result of being an avid camper. with 2 days to landfall I saw all of our local grocery, warehouse and big box stores filled with people losing their minds looking for water, and really what amounts to junk food. There was plenty of canned veggies, tuna, and ramen left on the shelves however there were no chips, ice cream, pop tarts or any of the other traditional junk food items. Seeing this really makes me worry about people’s priorities in an emergency situation. Overall the best lesson l learned over the last twenty years is to not be a big mooch, be prepared. Below I have made a comprehensive list of ideas and supplies you may want to have on hand before the start of the Hurricane Season.
The list below is a suggested list and is only meant to help you get prepared for the upcoming hurricane season. We live on the Texas Gulf Coast so we have different needs than someone on the eastern seaboard. Take your area of the country, population density and personal or family situation into account when making your list.
Before any Hurricane event:
- Make sure you keep your gas tank full in all your vehicles. Hurricanes don’t sneak up on you, they are forecast for at minimum 3 days. Even if it turns, the worst case is you have a full tank of gas for the week.
- Charge all of your electronic devices and external batteries. a dead phone or flashlight will do you no good when the power goes out.
- Take photos & Videos of your home inside and out before you leave, this is for insurance purposes. If you home is damaged destroyed or looted, you need to have a record of what you had. (Email them to yourself or upload to the cloud so they can be retrieved if the device is ruined.
- Have CASH, the ATM’s may be down, and stores may not be able to take Credit Cards. Be sure to get small bills people may not be able to make change. Special Note, typically you can only pull out $300 per day, so plan accordingly to what you think you will need.
- Fill your Bathtub with as much water as you can. This can be used in to fill up the toilet tank for flushing or washing dishes and any other general cleanup that needs to happen after the storm passes.
- If you have a family or group, have Board games and or Card games on hand for when the power goes out. Boredom can have a negative impact on the overall attitude of the family or group.
- Freeze water in jugs or bottles. Once frozen, place some in your fridge and leave the rest in your freezer. This little step will help keep your food and milk colder longer in the event of a power outage.
- In an effort to minimize damage for both you home and others try and eliminate any potential projectiles. Bring all outdoor furniture, BBQ, playground equipment, wind chimes and potted plants inside the garage or apartment.
- Riding out any storm has risk, decide before a hurricane if you are staying home or leaving. Do not leave in the middle of the storm it could be the worst decision you make. Roads may be impassable with trees, high water or downed power lines
- If you are going to stay with someone in the potentially impacted area, bring your supplies. Contribute to the group don’t be a huge mooch. Bring bedding pillows, food, cash, anything that may be of use.
- Prepare for your pets if you have them. Ensure they have food and water with bowls to eat and drink from. You will also have to account for them to have an area to take care of their business.
- This is an oldie but a goodie, Board up or tape windows. Boarding is the best defense against flying objects, tape will help with shattering glass if the windows break.
- When sheltering in place Identify the safest room in your home for emergency shelter. Stay away from windows and doors during the event and stick close to the safer areas. You never know when things will turn for the worse so always be aware of your location.
- A Hurricane is a fairly short event with very lasting effects. Have enough supplies, food and water for everyone in your home (and Extra for family or friends that may be displaced) for up to a week. It may take that long to get food back to local stores.
- Have a bag ready with some basic food and water along with the basic needs and your important documents in the event your home is damaged and you can no longer stay. In the unfortunate event you home or the place you are staying is damaged you may need to relocate. And may not have the opportunity to gather these items after the fact.
- Be sure to store any important documents, including health insurance, vehicle or home titles, Birth Certificates, Social Security cards, if you have kids, include the shot records in a waterproof bag, box, or safe.
- If you are a Gun lover like me, secure any and all firearms and Ammunition. Make sure they are locked in a safe or in your bag for relocation. You never want to leave them exposed for potential looters or family members or friends that may be staying with you.
Items to have on hand and why:
1. Water – Good rule is one gallon per person per day – Best to plan for 5 days. We store the gallon jugs for easy transport and carry. My Wife and daughter would be hard pressed to lift and pour a 5-gallon water jug for cooking or drinking.
2. Food – Only buy what you would normally eat, Dry Just add water or canned goods. If the power goes out eat all your cold food first. – Tuna Fish, Corned Beef, Spam (Yes, I said Spam) canned chicken breast, Pasta sides, rice, instant potatoes, macaroni or basic pasta noodles, Powdered Milk, Gatorade mix, Mio Drink Mix, Tea or Coffee, Cereal and Instant oatmeal, (Fun fact, the instant oatmeal packets are waterproof. You can put hot water in them and stir, no bowl required), Granola bars, pop tarts, trail mix, snack bars Chips. (The junk food or comfort foods)
3. Cooking – If you have a gas stove, you can skip over this. The gas typically does not go out. If you have an electric stove, I highly recommend a small propane burner
Notes for using an outdoor stove:
- Make sure you have Matches, or a long stem lighter – If the lighter is out, don’t worry, the sparks at the tip of the lighter will still light the stove.
- If you have no choice but to cook indoors after a hurricane, keep a window open, this is propane stove and not meant to cook indoors. Please do not use this as space heating device.
- Be sure to disconnect the gas after you use the stove. If it one of the single burner stoves, wait until it cools.
4. Power – There are lots of USB battery packs you can get at a local big box store. You don’t want to run your car to charge the battery if you can help it. Also, a good solar panel can keep your devices charged in extended power outages. And always keep extra batteries for all your flashlights and radios. I suggest keeping all your devices to one kind of battery to minimize the different types of batteries you have to purchase and store. I use an Anker Solar Panel to power my battery banks. You can see all the specifications on this link to Amazon
5. Clean up – Apartment or House, have the Large Heavy Duty 55-gallon drum liner bags – Best place to find them is a big box home improvement store or Warehouse store. Trash service may be interrupted and these will keep the smells in better and are less likely to rip. If the trash does not get picked up, in would suggest keeping them on the balcony of an apartment or if you have a house, keep them in the back yard. Keep wet wipes on hand for the quick clean up
6. Restroom – This I only add because on VERY RARE occasions the water has been shut off for a day of so while the power is being restored. I recommend filling your Bathtub, this water can be used to do dishes, or transport to the tank of your toilet for flushing. An alternate restroom is a 5-gallon bucket, Bucket Lid Toilet Seat and White kitchen trash Bags. (You can figure out the assembly!) This will save the water you have until the city water comes back on. Be sure to have a sufficient stock of Toilet paper and wet wipes. Even if you don’t use the bucket system. And ladies, be sure to get what you need if you can’t make to the store. (You know what I’m talking about).
7. Lighting – Lanterns are good for full room lighting and to use while cooking. Flashlights and headlamps are better for doing a task in a separate room (especially if you have family, kids feel better if they have their own light, it gives them a sense of security) Candles are good, it is best to use Tea Candles because they come in a metal casing and are less likely to be knocked over. (DO NOT USE PROPANE LANTERNS INDOORS!) We like the Coleman LED lanterns. You can see all the specifications on this link to Amazon
8. Smartphones – Know that if the power is out, some of the cell towers may be out and you can get spotty cell service, any may not have your beloved smart Phone internet to keep up with the news and conditions. Have a radio! The Midland Crank radio can charge your phone and has a light and can be found in retail sporting goods stores or you can see all the specifications on this link to Amazon.
If you are leaving the impacted area:
- Make the decision to leave early, a hurricane or tropical storm is a forecast event and is one of the few natural disasters you can prepare for. If you wait for the local emergency management service to come on the news an issue an evacuation order, it is too late. the traffic will be a mess and my put you in a worse situation than you would be in if you rode out the storm at home.
- When a tropical storm is forecast for your area be sure to keep your vehicle filled with gas. Don’t be ashamed to fill up at the half full mark. The worst that can happen is you have more gas than you need to get where you are going. also note stores may be out of gas for several miles outside the potentially impacted zone closer to the storm making landfall.
- Let TRUSTED family know you are leaving, where you are going and the best way to reach you. There is nothing worse than not knowing the status of a family member and if they are ok, if they made it safely to their destination or if they need help, communication is the key to a good evacuation plan.
- Not to sound paranoid but I highly suggest you DO NOT post on social media that you have abandoned your home! Your “Friends” may decide your home is an easy target for looting. If a trusted family member hunkered down and stayed in the impacted area, see if they can that is in the area check on your home if
- Have a gas can, if you can, fill it up, extra fuel is never a bad thing. Just make sure if it inside the car, you keep the windows down, the best place to keep it is in the trunk strapped to the wall or secured so it does not spill. This is not ideal but in emergency situations noting is.
- Lock all windows and doors on your home and any other structures. Don’t leave your home vulnerable to looters after the storm has cleared. There is nothing that can be done if the home is destroyed but you don’t want to come home to an empty standing house.
- Unplug everything except the fridge and or freezer (unless they are empty). If you can, shut off the power at your breaker box, if you home is damaged this will help prevent power surges that could destroy home appliances and may electrical fires if there is water and structural damage to the home.
- If your neighbor is staying home to ride out the storm, (and you trust them) let them know you are leaving and ask them to keep an eye on your home. They can also provide updates on the status of your home and when power comes back on
- Be sure to bring any important documents, including health insurance, vehicle or home titles, Birth Certificates, Social Security cards, if you have kids, bring the shot records. Keep these in a waterproof or gallon size freezer bag to help protect them from water damage.
- Take photos & Videos of your home inside and out before you leave, this is for insurance purposes. If you home is damaged destroyed or looted you need to have a record of what you had. (Email them to yourself or upload to the cloud so they can be retrieved if the device is ruined.
- Make a plan to stay with friends or family, (don’t just show up randomly, it is bad manners!) If that is not an option make reservations at a hotel if you can, if not head to a RV park or campground outside the storm area. It is important to have a destination in confirmed before you travel when you can. Wandering aimlessly may get you in more trouble than staying at home
- You will forget or run out of supplies, so have CASH. Be sure to get small bills after you pull out money from the ATM, people may not be able or refuse to make change. Sad but true, people will take advantage of a situation if they feel they can profit from it.
- Your Smartphone is your best tool for updates on the situation for both weather, traffic and news. Have this and ll your electronics and all charging cables with you and be sure you have a way to charge any devices for communication.
- Keeping your energy up and being hydrated is the key to a good evacuation plan. Bring food and water, minimum 1,000 calories and 1 gallon of water per person per day, you may not have a place to stop, or may be stuck in traffic. If you are staying with friends and family, don’t show up empty handed.
- In an effort to keep everyone safe, please bring your fire arms with you. Make sure they are unloaded and in a safe locked part of your vehicle, you don’t want them sitting on the back seat and stop for gas only to find them missing when you return from a grocery store. And please don’t leave them at home. Even if you have someone stopping by your house until you get back, anyone can break in and get them. I know the argument will be that can happen at any time but looters feel embolden after a natural disaster.
- If you are camping at a campground or RV park, be sure you have a way to cook or only bring “Snack type” foods. If you have a Colman stove or backpacking stove and fuel, cook away, if not bring canned or packaged foods that don’t need preparation such as protein bars, cookies. Chips, tuna. Much of the same foods I have noted in the section above.
- Don’t leave your pets behind to ride out the storm. Be sure to have plenty of food and water for the trip and for the duration of your absence. Your furry friend needs to feel comfortable just as you do, believe it or not they get stressed out in these situations. A good sea to summit collapsible bowl for food and water is a great
- Bring clothes, enough for 3 days per person. Wear comfortable, close toed walking shoes & pack the flip flops. You can do laundry when you get where you are going. Don’t forget the comfort items such as blankets, pillows, towels epically if you are camping or staying with friends or family. If you are going to a hotel the bedding and towels will not be as important.
There are many other things that you should consider for your personal or family situation. Make your own list and prepare the best you can with what you have and stay safe. We hope this information will help you be ready the next time the weather man lets you know there is a strong possibility a tropical storm or hurricane is coming your way and you can make the best of a bad situation.
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