Summer and fall are hurricane season, and when the forecast calls for extreme weather, the last thing you want is to be among the mob of people getting last-minute supplies. It definitely pays off to be ready well in advance!
Obviously, things like food, water, first-aid supplies, and clothing should be in your emergency provisions. We'll break that down a little further and give you some ideas on how to prepare and organize.
Food and Water
- For normal, active adults, figure on a minimum of two quarts of water per day. In hotter weather, double that amount to a gallon per day. Keep three to five days' worth of water on hand.
- Don't store water in breakable containers like glass bottles (and milk jugs are too fragile). Instead, buy half-gallon and gallon containers, or a collapsible 5-gallon container.
- Keep three to five days' worth of non-perishable food on hand, as well. Opt for high-protein choices like canned meat or tuna, beef jerky, nuts, peanut butter, granola bars, and trail mix. Avoid highly processed or carbohydrate-rich foods like crackers or chips, which won't leave you feeling satisfied for long.
- If you've got a baby in the family, be sure to keep infant food on hand. Don't forget spices and condiments, and you should probably stockpile a few sweets and comfort foods to break the monotony if you're forced to get by on rations for a prolonged period.
- Think about what to do if the power goes out for a prolonged spell. Have a cooler on hand for the perishables, with plenty of ice or ice packs. It's also a good idea to have a propane stove, gas grill or charcoal grill ready so that you can actually prepare some hot food when the power's out.
- Don't forget your pets—make sure that you bring pet food and supplies and that your pets have current ID tags on their collars. Have photos of them on hand and transport them in pet carriers - it's less stressful for them.
Tools and Supplies
Common sense dictates that there are some basics you're going to have to have on hand if things get rough. Here's a basic checklist of tools and supplies you're likely to need:
- Sharp knife
- Leatherman-style multi-tool
- Flasher or flares
- A few hundred dollars in cash (if you can manage) for fuel and supplies in case you have to bug-out and credit card machines are down
- A battery jump box with a USB connection for charging devices
- Battery-operated (or hand-crank) radio with weather notifications
- Battery-operated (or hand-crank) flashlights
- Spare batteries
- Mess kit and utensils
- Paperback books, cards or board games to kill time
- Basic hand tools
- Rain gear and other personal care items
- Super Glue
- Needle and thread
- Duct tape
- Household chlorine bleach
- Tie downs
First Aid and Medical Supplies
Obviously you hope you never need them, but it's a good idea to keep a stocked first-aid kit on hand. Things like bandage tape, gauze pads, rubbing alcohol, sanitary hand wipes, exam gloves, tweezers, antibacterial ointment, a cold pack, sunblock, insect spray, and an Ace bandage are all great things to keep in a first-aid kit.
Don't forget to keep any prescriptions you might need, as well as supplements and non-prescription drugs.
Before the weather gets bad, secure any loose patio furniture or other objects that could turn into missiles in a high wind. Make sure your roof's in good shape and that your windows and doors have a good, positive seal. If you're in the direct path, you may even need to board up your windows. Reinforce your garage door, if you have one. Make sure your insurance policies are up to date and take an inventory of household items, with pictures and serial numbers.
The really important thing here is to make sure you get out well in front of this. Don't wait for the last-minute runs on the grocery stores and home-improvement stores. Be prepared long before things turn bad.
Also, if you have a generator, know where to place the unit so that you can run it safely and exhaust fumes won't make their way into the house. It's a good idea to start the generator well in advance, and of course make sure you're going to have plenty of gas on hand for it.
To Stay, Or To Go...
So you've been monitoring the developing weather situation, and it looks like the worst of it's going to miss you. Don't be too confident on that — tornadoes, high winds and torrential rains are likely even at the outward edges of a hurricane.
Even if you've been through it before and know what to do, you should never ignore evacuation orders. Even the most well-built, solid house can be heavily damaged in a severe hurricane or tornado. If the authorities say you need to go, then go. There's nothing at your home that's worth your life.
Park your vehicle in the most secure location available. If you can't park in a garage, try to avoid potential hazards like large limbs, power lines, and low-lying areas that are flood prone.
And if you're ordered to evacuate, don't just figure you can ride it out and hope for the best. Make sure your vehicle's ready to go, with a full tank of gas and is in top mechanical condition, with good tires, new wipers, and all fluids topped off. It's a good idea to keep all your emergency supplies in a trouble bag in case you have to leave in a hurry, so make sure your vehicle's got room enough for what you need.
If you live near the coast, you already know that sea spray and salty air is bad for your car's finish (not to mention salty floodwaters from a storm surge) and can easily promote rust, so don't let it start. If you come back and find your vehicle's been flooded, you've got a whole new set of problems to handle. Is it worth saving, or should you just contact your insurance carrier and file a total-loss claim?
Finally, one last thing. You've heard it a hundred times, but it's worth saying again: don't drive through deep water. You might be driving a big heavy vehicle, but it's not as heavy as the tons and tons of water that are flowing across a low-water crossing or a flooded road. Besides, when the water's up to your vehicle's rocker panels, you can't see what's ahead and could easily drop into a washout or end up off the road and in trouble. Turn around and don't drown!