Hurricanes are most common in September. Do you and your loved ones have an emergency prep list? With the devastating series of hurricanes that whipped through the southeast in the past few years, it’s clear that hurricane season is not something you want to ignore and a hurricane prep list may be just what you need to start preparing for this year’s hurricane season. Within this article, you’ll find essential emergency categories with tips to help you prepare in an organized fashion. Next is a list of tools you may want to see you through hurricane season. Lastly, a list of 10 ways to prepare your home for a hurricane.
The 2018 hurricane season—which, by contemporary standards, was quite mild—unleashed eight hurricanes in the Atlantic, two of which were considered major (category 3+) storms. With 173 fatalities and over $50 billion in damage, last year’s relatively calm season still took a major toll on east-coasters. Amazingly, however, the damage and death of 2018’s storms were minor compared to the year before, when Harvey, Maria, and Irma thrashed their way through the ocean, leaving over 3,300 dead and $306.2 billion in destruction in their wake during 2017.
With the proliferation of these storms comes more awareness, which leads to better methods of preparedness and safety staples that can help potentially high-risk areas come out of hurricane damage with fewer fatalities, injuries, and damage to personal items. To help you get ready for whatever this year might hold. Here’s an emergency prep list to help you prepare should a major weather event put you at risk.
Emergency Prep List
Emergency Prep List Catagories
Panic and fear are a natural response in an emergency. It pumps adrenalin through your body and causes the urge to flee, freeze, or fight. Preppers have learned the secret to controlling an adrenalin induced panic, by channeling that adrenalin to executing their emergency plan. Being prepared with a plan, the right tools, and essential supplies is the best way to eliminate panic and act calmly in the midst of a storm. This ultimate hurricane prep list will help you take stock of supplies that you and your family could use, should you find yourself in the path of a deadly storm, stranded in your home with limited access to vital resources.
You never know how much damage a major storm might do. Assume city water has been contaminated after a hurricane. Do not drink tap water until local officials declare it safe to drink. The general rule is to be prepared for three to twenty-one days. A good rule of thumb is to stock up on one gallon of water per person per day for any emergency. Consider filling up a bathtub right before the storm hits. Invest in a water purifier (removes bacteria+parasites+viruses) and water storage containers for drinking. Drinking water is the most important resource you’ll need. Drinking, cooking with, or washing in polluted water can make you very sick. Using canteens and water storage containers instead of disposable water bottles cuts down on A LOT of waste. Just think, a family of four drinking 8 bottles of water per person per day for a week is a total of 224 disposable water bottles. At a time when the trash man may not be coming for a while, you may want to consider cutting down on waste.
Stock up on plenty of non-perishable foods you can prepare with only what’s in your emergency supplies. Canned soups and dried foods are always safe bets when it comes to disasters. Remember to keep an extra can opener and a method to heat up food in your emergency kit. Don’t forget to keep a backup stash of pet food on hand for your furry friends, too. Freeze water in Tupperware dishes or empty milk jugs to eliminate extra space in your freezer. This ice will melt so you want to make sure that it is sealed in a container that will not leak once it starts to melt. The more ice you have in your freezer, and the tighter packed it is, the longer the items will stay cold. Once the power goes out, the less you open it, the longer the items will stay cold. Also, clean out your fridge and those old ice chests. Decide which items you’ll need to store in the ice chest for your emergency meals.
Some of the best emergency lights for a natural disaster are lanterns. Lanterns produce light to read, play games, organize, and look through your emergency supplies. These actions are hard to do with a flashlight. Headlamps are also a good option, although it gets annoying when you and your family are continually shining the light in one another’s eyes. Here are some ideas for a power outage kit.
If the power goes out you’ll need a plan to stay warm. There are a couple of emergency heat sources worth considering like a portable kerosene heater or an indoor safe propane heater. It’s also important to have hooded ponchos, rain boots, or waders to keep you dry if you need to shut off a utility value outside. Wool hats, socks, sweaters, and gloves are great for trapping body heat and even work when wet, unlike down feathers that are useless when wet.
Disasters can wreak havoc on public utilities. Water pipes and natural gas lines can rupture, and power grids can fail. A power outage can affect the operations of waste treatment plants, leaving neighborhoods backed up and unable to remove water waste from houses. So flushing the toilet, washing dishes, doing the laundry, and taking a shower may cause clogged drains, or worse, flooding in your home. This can make good hygiene nearly impossible to maintain. Have a plan for waste management, put together a hygiene kit, get disposable dishes for meals, and have baby wipes on hand to keep clean. Also, try to get caught up on the laundry and the dishes before the storm.
Have at least a week’s supply of vitamins, over-the-counter pills, and prescription medications on hand at all times. Have a printed-out list of medications with usage directions, health conditions, and blood type for each member of the family. You’ll want an Emergency Medications Card easily accessible to give to first responders if necessary. Keep all medication in a waterproof container. Also, have a standard first aid kit but consider adding a few supplies that will help with injuries that can occur in a violent storm. Emergency blankets for hypothermia, pain relievers, a splint, tourniquet, blood stop bandages, mosquito repellent, and mosquito nets. There’s a high rise of mosquito-borne diseases during times of flooding (Malaria, Yellow Fever, West Nile, Zika Virus).
Let a close friend or family member know your plan if the worst happens. That way, if they don’t hear from you, they’ll be able to quickly report an issue or plan a rescue. Make sure to prepare an evacuation plan and discuss it with your family and reference your emergency prep list. Get a storm whistle in case you need to get the attention of emergency workers. Other important communication supplies include: NOAA radio, list of local radio stations, extra batteries, battery bank chargers, and your cell phones fully charged. A small Baofeng ham radio is a useful mode of communication in an emergency. They can receive a wide variety of radio frequencies including NOAA radio stations and can be used in an EMERGENCY to walkie for help without an operator license, they cost around $30.
One of the most left behind items in a quick evacuation is a wallet or purse. You may consider having a copy of your driver license and credit card, along with placing some cash in your emergency kit. Have enough cash rent a hotel room, fill up your vehicle with gas a few times, and feed your family for several days. Cash and a copy of your credit card can be hidden in a wide-mouth water canteen or in a Water Bottle Can Safe. During a state of emergency carrying around a lot of cash can be dangerous. Don’t keep all your cash in one place, have small bills (stores run out of smaller bills quickly when facing a hurricane), and carry the ATM receipt with it. Police and the National Guard may think that only criminals carry around large sums of cash so have proof it’s yours. If this seems like overkill then read Zeitoun, a book about a father who experienced the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
No matter what situation you find yourself in, protecting you and your loved ones from danger is incredibly important. In the case of a natural disaster like a hurricane, you need to be prepared for anything and anyone who might cause you harm. Having self-defense weapons, that you’ve been trained to use, may protect you from potential looters or burglars!
Hurricane Prep List Tools
- Plywood 3/4 inch (to board up windows)
- Lag screws 2-1/4
- Drill/drive bits (to drill pilot holes for the screws)
- Circular Saw
- Permanent Marker (to label the plywood for which window it’s cut for)
- Buckets for roof leaks
- A sharp pocket knife
- A pocket-sized multi-tool
- Matches in a waterproof box
- A fire extinguisher
- Gas can
- Chainsaw (gas-powered)
- Flathead shovel
- Work gloves
- Protective facemask
- Heavy-duty garbage bags
10 Ways To Prepare Your Home For a Hurricane
Besides having a well-stocked disaster kit ready to go, you’ll also want to make sure to review your emergency prep list. Prepare your home for the barrage of wind, water, and hail that could be thrown at it during hurricane season. If there’s a big storm in the forecast, you can save yourself some serious trouble by preparing with the following tips:
1. Devise an emergency evacuation plan complete with several possible alternate locations, routes, modes of transportation, and a bug out bag for each member of the family. Remember, when a disaster strikes, there’s no time to think, plan, or strategize, so do as much as you can beforehand. Put your plans in a clearly labeled folder you can grab quickly if needed.
2. Find the safest room in your home. A safe room is typically described as an interior room without windows – for example, a closet, pantry, or a bathroom. During a tornado, it’s recommended to take shelter on the lowest floor of a building with a strong foundation, a basement is preferable. HOWEVER, hurricanes are different because of the floodwaters. The potential to become trapped in a basement (or small low-level room) by the incredible power of a storm surge makes these places very dangerous. Plan a couple of escape routes from your safe room to higher ground. One escape route might be through a wall or ceiling with the use of an ax. It’s common to move to a higher level as flood levels rise. People have been trapped in their homes and attics as water levels rise with no way of escape. You’ll want to pack food, water, meds, and other emergency supplies in waterproof containers and store them in your safe room.
3. Make sure your windows, entry doors, and garage doors are made to withstand high winds and heavy rain. You may need to board them up, DON’T just tape them. Taping windows is a safety myth that has been DEBUNKED. If you live in a high-wind zone, make sure you have hurricane-proof doors and impact-resistant shutters installed on your home.
4. Locate utility turn off switches such as water, natural gas, and electricity. Check with local utility companies to stay up-to-date on advisory shut-off notices and proper shut-off procedures. For example, turning off the water to a house can damage the water heater if it’s not done properly. It’s recommended by city officials to turn off the water to your home if you are evacuating.
5. Unplug electrical devices you’re not using. Power surges can damage appliances and are common in natural disasters. I once had to replace a fridge, toaster, and toaster oven because of a power surge. At first, the fridge and toaster oven acted like they were still working but then we noticed items going bad in the fridge and the oven taking longer to heat items up, and by the end of the month those three items needed to be replaced costing us $1200. Many people will take a chance leaving only the fridge and freezer plugged in. So, decide what items you’re not willing to take a chance on (computer, modem, microwave, amplifier, lamps, tv, washer/dryer) and unplug them.
6. Elevate as many personal items, furniture, and books as safely possible. If you have a second story, move items that you can reasonably carry to the upper level. If you only have a single level home, then stack items you hope to save on countertops, tables, and cupboards. Secure valuables such as photos, important documents, mementos, jewelry, and expensive clothing in waterproof containers and bags.
7. Prepare your backyard. Trim any bushes or trees that could blow into your home or the neighbor’s home in the event of high wind. Weak, dead, or unruly landscaping is especially vulnerable to storm damage, and heavy tree limbs can cause serious destruction. Don’t forget to turn off your automated sprinklers. Lawn furniture, hoses, flowerpots, and anything else that may turn into a flying projectile, move into the garage, storage shed, or a secured location. Shut off the propane to the grill and store items safely away.
8. If you’re going to buy a generator, learn how to use it! Energy from the grid is the first thing to go in a high-wind situation, so having a backup power source can be helpful. However, there is a big learning curve for using and providing maintenance to a generator. Diesel and gas generators produce carbon monoxide while they are running. I know a guy that passed out from the carbon monoxide produced from his generator that he was running in his garage (the two-car garage door was open at the time). It’s recommended to operate them ONLY OUTSIDE, far from windows. This can be hard to do if there is a lot of flooding. If you are connecting it to your home then you will need to contact the local power company and other city departments to find out what is legal for your area. You’ll also need a licensed electrician to install a manual transfer switch or an interlock kit. Plugging a generator into your home without the proper electrical system can have dangerous and costly results.
9. Take a look at all your insurance policies. Have you added supplemental policies to your homeowner’s insurance? Typical policies do NOT cover flooding & natural disasters. Make sure that you have the most coverage for the type of damage you’re likely to see in your area. You may want to buy a separate flood or windstorm insurance policy to ensure that the most likely type of damage is fully covered. Make a video walk-through of your home and record all the items in each room, opening cupboards, closets, and drawers for the video. This can help you account for all the items in your home that may be unrecognizable. Then you can refer to the video to accurately claim the lost and damaged items with your insurance company.
10. Take inventory of all the floatation devices you own. Life jackets, inner tubes, blow up beds, watercraft, and inflatable boats could save your life. Drowning is the number one cause of death in a meteorological disaster. It took a couple of weeks before the water receded after Katrina and a month after Hurricane Harvey. That’s a long time to be trapped by floodwaters. Unless you had a boat! Before and during a hurricane, it’s too dangerous to be out in a storm while flash flooding and storm surges are at their worst. However, once the powerful current dies down, rescuers take to the water in their boats to help those in need. One man that survived Hurricane Katrina used his boat to find friends, save animals, and respond to shouts of help. Below is a video about Hurricane Harvey and how approximately 850 people were rescued by volunteers using boats.
Your Best Bet Is Always to Be Prepared for Anything
Wicked storms seem to be the norm in the new millennium. It’s impossible to completely safeguard low, coastal zones from the flooding when a hurricane hits. Follow mandatory evacuation mandates immediately. With that being said, preparation can seriously cut down on injury and property damage. So make sure you take the time to get ready before it’s too late with the above emergency prep list.
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