Hurricane season doesn’t start until June 1, but creating your hurricane preparedness kit is something that should be done well in advance. These ten things can be acquired now, before long lines and shortages kick in.
One of the first things to sell out in stores in the face of potential hurricane landfall is water. Water sources can be contaminated by flooding, and services can take time to be restored. FEMA and the CDC recommend a gallon per person per day with a 3-day minimum and a 2-week preferred time frame. Don’t forget pets; a 50-pound dog will need as much water as a human.
While many financial institutions have learned from past storms and prepare for demand with an influx of cash to local ATMs, waiting until the last minute to pull emergency cash can mean waiting in long lines and seeing availability disappear. Once the storm hits, power and network connections can fail, leaving bank customers with no way to access their money. Months after Maria, much of Puerto Rico was still “cash only” and the Federal Reserve had to rush banknotes to the island.
If a hurricane makes landfall, and power and municipal services are interrupted, staying clean is the best way to stave off disease. Toilet paper is an obvious choice, but also stock up on wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and any other necessary hygiene products as well as extra diapers and baby wipes if necessary. Paper towels, disinfectant wipes and other cleaning supplies can help make surfaces safer after flood and wind driven rain cause contamination.
Non-Perishable Food Items
Milk and bread fly off the shelves prior to a big storm, but a surprising item that sold out during Hurricane Irene in 2011 was strawberry Pop-Tarts. It was a significant enough data point that Wal-Mart has stocked up on this flavor of boxed pastry in advance of every major hurricane since. Pop-Tarts, peanut butter, canned items with peel-back lids, preserved meats, and dry carbs like crackers will provide energy and nutrition without quick spoilage.
First Aid Supplies
Medical centers may be swamped with more critical cases, so being able to effectively administer first aid can help you get through small injuries until more help is available. Besides Band-Aids and antibiotic ointment, stock cold packs, heat packs, Ace bandages, gauze, and medical tape. If you have any old wrist, ankle, knee, or back braces, shoulder or elbow slings, crutches, or a wheelchair, make sure they are easy to access. If you don’t need them a neighbor might. Don’t forget to swing by the pharmacy to check on prescriptions and stock up on over the counter medications.
Another item to quickly drop in supply as demand rises is batteries and other energy sources. Batteries can be used to power flashlights, handheld radios, diabetic testing and monitoring devices, and more. Adding a few pocket size power banks can help you and your family keep mobile devices on and connected, and solar power chargers can be used once the sun comes out again to help charge small items. If you opt for a generator, shop early before local stores run out and don’t forget a safe storage system for fuel.
Even if you don’t need to power a generator, you may need to evacuate. Such a trip can be long with a lot of stop and go traffic that burns excessive fuel. Keeping your vehicle(s) well fueled in advance of a storm can help you avoid lengthy waits at gas stations, potential price gouging, and the possibility of a gas shortage.
Having a way to protect documents pertaining to identification, insurance, and financials is extremely important. You may also have personal items of value such as jewelry or watches you need to keep safe. Waterproof, sealable, and easy to carry are three things you should look for when choosing a document and valuables container.
In an age of internet access, most people just pull up their GPS or check Google Maps for directions. If network accessibility is cut off, an offline GPS can help if you remembered to download it, but even this can fail you if your device runs low on battery power. Buy local maps ahead of time, and mark important spots like shelters, schools, evacuation routes, and medical centers.
One more purchase to make before hurricane season starts is flood insurance. Flood zone maps can only predict risk based on statistics, and the 2017 storm season caused major damage across the state. Flood insurance is not included in standard homeowners insurance policies, so ask your agent about flood coverage today.