This has been an active hurricane season. The area in which I live is currently encountering winds from Hurricane (soon-to-be Tropical Storm, we hope) Maria. I’d like to point out that Maria is currently nothing compared to what Maria was or what Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were earlier this year. God bless those of you who endured those disasters.
Unfortunately, I’m seeing weatherpersons talking on Facebook about “trouble brewing” in the Caribbean and the Bahamas over the next two weeks. I’m praying they are wrong. But there are still two months left in hurricane season.
Nonetheless, being prepared is the best plan. So yesterday I started a series of daily challenges for those of you who live in hurricane-threatened areas. I encouraged those of you who live near the coast to print a hurricane tracking map.
Today, I urge you to stock up on supplies.
Different lists have different suggestions. The American Red Cross has a list. (I know. A lot of people detest the American Red Cross. But looking at their checklist can’t hurt, right?) FEMA also has a list. And I’m sure you can find a host of others online.
What I Did
When Irma threatened the coast I live on, I stocked up on the following:
Gas: One of the first things we did was to fill up on gas. Not only did we fill up both of our vehicles, but we also filled our two five-gallon gas cans. I was affected by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and I recall how long gas was in short supply. My dad and my cousin spent multiple nights driving into Alabama from our homes in Florida before finding gasoline. I don’t want to live through that situation again–especially if I need to evacuate with my family.
Water and food: We also prepared by stocking up on food and water. I bought multiple packs of bottled water as well as gallons of bottled water. In the event a serious system approaches, I also have food-safe five-gallon buckets from Lowe’s that I would fill with water–and I would fill my bathtub, too. I also bought non-perishable food. I almost never feed my family Chef Boyardee, but it works for these situations, and I have a lot of it in my cabinet right now. Additionally, I keep a large package of dry milk in my cabinet for such events, and my husband and I have actually bought MRE’s for our emergency box. Also, as my mom did during Hurricanes Erin and Opal in 1995, I would also prepare a large pot of chili before any chance of power outages occurred. Finally, I have a Camp Chef Explorer Stove–purchased for approximately $100 a few years ago for outdoor canning–that we could use to cook food. (I’ll post a review of that stove at a later date.) We have a propane tank that is full of propane and would consider buying at least one more in the event we were expected to have a category 1 or category 2 storm.
Manual can opener: I’ve had $10 can openers and ones from Dollar Tree, and I honestly prefer the ones from Dollar Tree. Just don’t put them in the dishwasher or soak them in the sink.
Bleach and a medicine dropper: Bleach (the regular or “plain” kind) can be helpful in purifying water for drinking (make sure you know how little to use!). I personally stick with Clorox. (Click here for more information from The Clorox Company.) I hope never to have to use it, but I have it if I need it. My husband and I are currently evaluating manual water purifier systems for this purpose in the future. We will still keep Clorox in our kit, however, because it can be used for other reasons.
Lanterns and flashlights: We prefer Maglites in this house, and we have several. I also like the Xtreme LED lanterns on Amazon. They are currently $24.96 each, but I bought ours at Christmas in 2015 for less than $10. (I’ll review those later, too.)
Weather radio: We currently have an electric and battery-powered weather radio, and I have plenty of batteries for it. I hope at Christmas or during weather season next year to replace it with a multi-function hand crank radio–perhaps one also powered by solar power.
Extra batteries: We have alkaline and rechargeable batteries in every size. I have an Ohuhu battery organizer and tester that I use to keep all of my batteries organized and charged. (I’ll review the organizer and tester later.)
First aid kit: We have several, including one in each vehicle. (I will have my husband, a former EMT, post reviews of those later.)
Medical supplies: Because I have Hashimoto’s, mild IBS, and gastritis, I take several medicines daily. I ensure that I have plenty of medications available should a storm hit and the pharmacies not reopen for some time. After Irma hit south Florida, the mail was suspended for an extra day in north Florida, where much of my family lives. I saw a person on Facebook complain that her medicine was supposed to be arriving in the mail on that day and that she was in dire need of it. If you live on the coast during hurricane season, you should try to ensure that you have a supply of extra medicine just in case.
I also make sure that I have extra (daily) contact lenses and an extra pair of glasses, just in case.
Cell phones and chargers: We have plenty of chargers with six-foot cables in our household. We have inverters in our vehicles to power those if necessary. We also have Justin battery chargers, but I would not recommend those. Look for another item instead. (I’ll review those at another time, too.)
Cash: We try to withdraw a few hundred dollars in cash before storms, more if we are evacuating.
Matches and candles: I have a box of matches just in case, and I also have a fire starter that was in my husband’s Christmas stocking a few years back. I also have emergency candles.
Are we starting to sound a bit like preppers? I do believe in being prepared.
Fire extinguisher: We have a good one appropriate for our household (actually, we have two). And it has been checked. Talk to your local fire department to see what you need, and put an appropriate one in your house–and then maintain it.
Baby, child, and pet supplies: If my child were still in diapers, I’d stock up on those in advance of an approaching storm. I’d make sure I had plenty of pet food, too.
Miscellaneous items: Local maps, masks, gloves, blankets, extra clothing and shoes, rain gear, bug repellent, sunscreen, a camera, and rags.
Important paperwork: I’ll talk more about this on another day, but you need all your insurance paperwork at the very least. If I were evacuating, I’d take my waterproof, fire-resistant file safe with me. It has everything in it from passports to checks.
Activities: I have plenty of non-electric activities to keep my kid occupied.
There are a couple of things my family members can expect to receive for Christmas this year because I think we have a little more preparation to do for next year. I’ve already mentioned I’d like another weather radio and some better battery banks/chargers, but a whistle is also at the top of that list, although my daughter has two recorders I think we would use if we needed them now.
One more thing: We have a generator. But we also know how to use it–and more importantly, how not to. If you don’t know how to use a generator, educate yourself, preferably by hiring an electrician to assist. No one wants anyone to die of carbon monoxide poisoning.
DISCLAIMER: This is not an exhaustive list. Review multiple lists and prepare your own kit based on your household’s needs. Use common sense.
Review lists–preferably several of them–and verify what you have on hand. Then make a list of what you need. And go get it–early. Water and food fly of the shelves in the days before a storm. No, really. Prepare early. Even if you have to eat Chef Boyardee all winter. You would rather be safe than sorry, right?
How Did You Do?
Do you have an emergency supply kit or box? What’s in it? Let me know in the comments!