Hearing the news that a hurricane in on a path to your home is never good news. For some, it’s a no brainer to get out of town while others spend time wondering if they should stay or leave. Regardless of your decision, I’m sharing a list of must have hurricane items and preparation tips with you.
Step One: Get a Plan
Yes this is easier said than done… way easier! Sometimes you’ll have days notice of the impending storm and sometimes it’s just a few hours (or less if the storm makes a quick turn). You’ll probably second guess yourself and change your plans a lot before the storm actually arrives. And try not to be too frustrated when you’ve done all this planning and work and the storm takes a last minute turn.
- Take some time to make several plans of action – if you’ll stay in your home and if you’ll evacuate.
- Know what your threshold is – when will you go?
- If you leave, where will you go?
- If you leave, what are you taking?
- How will you prepare your home before you leave or if you stay?
- What’s your budget for supplies and/or evacuation?
Evacuating – When to Stay and When to Go
If you’re asked to leave and you can, please do. Think about the first responders – they have enough other things to worry about. And please take your pets. Don’t leave them behind to suffer or fend for themselves. When determining your evacuation route, think about the traffic both leaving and coming back. If everyone else is heading north, are you able to head west or south and still be safe? Also, if you’re choosing to leave, please don’t stock up on things before you leave your home. Leave those supplies for the people staying. You can purchase things when you get to your final destination. Remember to also stop at the store on your way back home following the storm as it takes several days for stores to get restocked. If you’re able to, bring back extra things for neighbors or shelters.
When You Can’t Afford to Evacuate
If you can’t afford to go, please ask for help. Find a place to stay with friends (split the costs for lodging, food, ect). If friends offer assistance, this is the time to take it to remain safe. Check sites like AirBnB. Often times some of the owners will allow people in the path of a hurricane to evacuate to their homes for a significantly reduced cost or even free. Hotels will also often offer reduced rates to those in the path of the hurricane. It may not be far from your home, but a hotel can get you off the ground in case there’s flooding and they’ll likely have a generator to keep you with some power.
Where Should You Get Your Hurricane Information From
The National Hurricane Center provides the official track of any storms, including hurricanes. Personally I also like to follow Mike’s Weather Page on Facebook. He also has a website with lots of information. Eric Burris and Denis Phillips are both Florida meteriologists who share information in a calm manner and don’t hype things. When they’re panicked you should be worried.
Most importantly, don’t become obsessed with checking models and tracks and everything. It will not help you stay calm. Allow yourself a limited number of times to check in on things leading up to the storm. As the storm approaches your home, checking in more frequently makes sense. Still try to stay as calm as possible. You stressing out will not change the direction of the storm.
What Things Should You Have on Hand for a Hurricane
Use the packing lists below to make sure you’ve got supplies on hand for your evacuation or sheltering in place during the hurricane. Below are a few other tips:
- If power is lost, atm or credit cards may not be accepted. Make sure you have cash on hand for when businesses open up. You also want to consider purchasing things from local resale groups to help support others who may be short on cash to help them be able to evacuate their families. Locally owned businesses have been some of the first who’ve reopened after storms here and it’s great to be able to support them and thank them for supporting and taking care of our community.
- Make sure you have more supplies than you think you’ll need. The storm itself may pass within 12 hours, but if power goes out, there’s flooding, or reentry isn’t allowed for days, you want to make sure you have enough supplies to sustain you and your family.
- If you’re staying home, you’ll be able to use your grill to cook. Make sure you have propane and a cast iron skillet or other grill safe cookware. Frozen pizza cooks well on a grill.
- Buying things “just in case”? Make sure you know the return policy for your items. A generator is a handy thing to have on hand but if you don’t loose power, you might want to return it following the storm.
- Make sure you have gas available if you’re staying and have power tools to help clean up after the storm.
- Yes you’re enduring a natural disaster but you don’t need to be completely miserable. Grab yourself a cast iron skillet or game to play. Download music and tv shows or movies to watch in case your power goes out.
- This is a great time to use (or pack) travel size items you may have from a hotel or other trip you’ve taken. Because they’re small, they fit well into luggage and you don’t have to spend any money on these items because you already have them on hand.
- Glow sticks work well to help keep the kids from being afraid in the dark.
- Umbrellas and ponchos are helpful getting around in the rain.
Things To Do Around Your House to Prepare for a Hurricane
Fill your freezer. The fuller it is, the longer it will stay cold. Use water bottles to fill the space.
Put a cup of water in your freezer and let it freeze. Put a penny on top. If the penny sinks, you’ll know you lost power and for how long by how far the penny sank into the ice/water.
Fill up bathtubs and empty containers with water. You don’t need to go buy a bunch of gallons of water-use the containers you already have. Plastic storage bins work fine. Your washing machine is also meant to hold water (or ice).
Make sure you have a cooler (or several) that you can fill with ice if needed (make a last minute ice run if needed). Start stockpiling your ice now (empty it into zip top bags and store in the freezer so your ice maker will keep making more).
Set up a staging area in your house where your supplies will be. You don’t want to be rooting through cupboards and closets looking for something when there’s no power or you’re stressed about the storm.
Charge your devices and power banks/portable chargers. Download songs and movies/shows now so you’ll have something to do if needed. Keep charging cords handy.
Put some damp washcloths/towels into the freezer to keep yourself cool if you loose power (and won’t have AC).
Clean up your yard/outdoor space. You don’t want things blowing around causing damage. You also don’t want standing water for mosquitoes to breed either.
Have a go bag in case things get really bad. If you need to get in the car and leave, have one bag that you can grab and go or that is already in your car.
Have first aid supplies on hand both for your everyday needs as well as if someone is injured during the storm or clean up.
Tips for Shopping and Stocking Up on Supplies for a Hurricane
Amazon still delivers generally until evacuations start to happen. (Not a prime member? Get your free 30 day trial here.) If you have enough notice, place your order on Amazon to get things quickly without fighting crowds in the stores for things you’ll need. I’ve listed some things below. They can be purchased quickly through this shopping list on Amazon.
When shopping locally, consider using store pick up or delivery options available at your local locations. This will allow someone else to shop for you without you having to fight the crowds. You’re also able to use this time doing other things to prepare.
Shop for things you’ll use even if the storm wasn’t coming. You don’t want to be stuck with a pantry full of things you won’t use after the hurricane. If you don’t normally eat or purchase an item, now isn’t the time to try it out (unless you don’t have an option). It may wind up being something you don’t like. Or it’s something you love and you’ll eat your hurricane snacks before the storm makes it to you.
While you’re out shopping, consider shopping for extra items. Those items can be donated to local agencies or to neighbors you know are in need. Not sure what they need? Consider grabbing a store or gas gift card.
If you’re choosing to leave before the storm, wait until you get to the place you’re evacuating to stock up on supplies. Leave things in your local stores for those staying to ride out the storm. As you make your way back home, consider stopping at the store again to bring things back home with you. It can take several days for stores to be restocked and with the whole town replenishing their homes, things can sell out quickly. Also consider grabbing extra supplies for your neighbors or shelters to help them following the storm.
After the storm, instead of returning unused food items to the store to be thrown out, please consider donating them instead. People will still be in need to food following the hurricane and will appreciate your generosity.
Things to Buy When Preparing for a Hurricane
Many of the things you’ll need for a hurricane are things you already have on hand. In this case you’ll just need more of them. I’ve listed some things below to have on hand if you’re going to stay and ride out the storm or if you’re evacuating with your family. You can click on any of the link to shop or use this link to shop off the list I’ve put together on Amazon.
Self Care Items
- Toothpaste and toothbrush
- Feminine hygiene products
- Baby or personal wipes
- Bug spray
- Dry shampoo
- Paper towels
- Lysol wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Baby wipes
- Spray cleaners
- Garbage bags
- Bug spray (to kill creatures)
- Plastic pool with sod
- Pee pads
- Food and water bowls
- Disposable plastic bags
- Pet carrier or kennel
- Allergy medication (both daily medication and allergic reaction medication)
- Antibiotic ointment
- Pain relievers
- Prescription refills
- Comfort items (stuffed animal, pacifier, ect)
- Portable sleeper
Food and Hydration
- Packaged food items
- Packaged food items
- Packaged food items and Packaged food items
- Packaged food items (Poptarts, crackers, pretzels, muffins, ect)
Packing for Evacuation
When you decide it’s best for your family to leave instead of riding out the hurricane, it’s time to start packing. You can use the luggage you have, plastic storage bins, or any kind of bags you’ve already got on hand. Here is a list of things to consider packing before you go:
- List of contents of items in your home (pictures, videos, serial numbers)
- Important documents (birth certificate, social security cards, marriage license, adoption paperwork, divorce paperwork, custody paperwork, ect)
- Pet records (vaccination paperwork, ect)
- Uniforms (school, work, ect)
- Insurance policy and contact information
Once you’ve decided to leave, let someone know where you’re heading. Pass along the contact information to put their minds at ease.
Don’t Forget Your Vehicle
Evacuating or staying in place, you’ll need to make sure your vehicle is ready for the storm. Here are some things to do before the hurricane arrives or you decide to evacuate:
- Fill your car up with gas
- Check the air in your tires
- Get your oil changed
- Clean out your car so it’s ready to be loaded down with your supplies
- Pre-pack anything you can in your vehicle
More Tips and Tricks
Before the storm hits, take pictures and video of everything in your home. Make sure that it’s not only on your phone but backed up somewhere else as well.
Back up everything to the cloud so you don’t lose files and pictures in case your phone or laptop is damaged during the storm.
Get policy information now so you’ll know what’s covered (rental cars, hotel stays, food replacement, flood, looting, ect). Have all of your policy info (numbers, contact info to file a claim) with you so you can start that process as soon as possible
Share your info! We’re all in this together and you might think of something someone else hasn’t (or vice versa). Let people know if you saw food or gas or something.
If you’re able, reach out to your local shelters and rescues to make donations or foster animals so they can evacuate and have a safe place to be too.
Please don’t post on social media that you’re leaving your home or your home’s location. Set up a secret Facebook group and invite your loved ones to join. You can post specific information in that group to provide updates while conserving your battery on your phone. Be sure to let others know your wishes as well so they don’t post your travel plans without your consent.
Before you leave, freeze a cup of water and keep it in your freezer. Once frozen, keep a coin on top of the cup. When you return home, if the coin is still on top, your food is safe. If it’s sunk, you know you’ve lost power and need to throw out your food.
Most importantly heed your local warnings and always be safe.