We’re in the middle of Atlantic hurricane season yet again, which means it’s time for people to start thinking about getting supplies together to survive a hurricane’s aftermath. If you live along the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic seaboard, surviving a hurricane should always be at the forefront of your mind during summertime. While this summer hasn’t been particularly active in terms of hurricane numbers, all it takes is one huge hurricane, such as last year’s Hurricane Harvey, to do some really major damage.
Many people find themselves ill-prepared both to ride out a hurricane and to survive a hurricane’s aftermath. Here are 10 of the top things you’ll want to stock up on before a hurricane hits.
Water is something that you should stock up on anyway. Having at least a two-week supply on hand is just good preparation. You’ve probably seen the photos of huge lines of people waiting at FEMA distribution sites for bottles of water, and the fights that inevitably break out among people who are thirsty and fearful of dying of dehydration. Don’t put yourself in that situation – stock up on water ahead of time.
2. Non-Perishable Food
If you live in an area affected by a hurricane, chances are you’ll be without power for several days. That means that the food in your refrigerator and freezer will likely spoil. Make sure you have canned foods (tuna, meat, fruit, tomatoes, etc.) stored ahead of time. Food in glass jars is in danger of breaking in the event that high winds damage your home. Stores of pasta, rice, and other similar products are also advisable.
3. Cooking Stoves
Of course, having all this food won’t do you any good if you can’t cook it. It’s highly likely that your electricity will be out, and natural gas supplies will also probably be cut off in order to prevent fires and explosions. Here’s where a camp stove, turkey fryer, or other type of cooking implement can come in handy. Be careful, of course, and make sure you do your cooking outdoors to minimize the risk of fire.
Bread will be one of the first goods to be sold out in stores. If you buy bread in advance, you can freeze it until a hurricane approaches, then pull it out and get it ready to eat when the storm is approaching. Or, you could even bake your own bread or make hardtack so that you’ll have something ready to eat that doesn’t require cooking.
If you live in an apartment you won’t be able to use a generator, but it’s a good idea for most homeowners to have one and know how to use it. Don’t wait until a hurricane has come through before you try to figure out how it works, and find out that it’s broken or that it won’t power all the equipment you need it to. Periodic testing of a generator can help you prevent this from happening.
Generators (and cooking stoves) will also require fuel of some sort. If your generator is gasoline-powered, you’re going to need to stock up in advance of a storm. Gas (especially if it contains ethanol) will eventually accumulate moisture from the air, and it has a limited shelf life. Rotate through your supply and make sure that your gas is always fresh. If your generator is propane-powered, make sure you have a large enough supply on hand.
You’re going to need some way of seeing in the dark once the electricity is out. Flashlight technology keeps getting better and better, with brighter and brighter flashlights becoming cheaper and cheaper. Small, portable LED flashlights that use AA and CR123 batteries can be purchased for anywhere from $20 to $50. Make sure to have multiple flashlights on hand, both for multiple family members as well as for redundancy in case one breaks.
Flashlights, battery-operated radios, and other appliances will need batteries to run them. Make a list of all the battery-powered appliances you have and the types of batteries they use. Then try to always have a good supply of batteries on hand for them. Having at least 2-3 changes of batteries on hand can ensure that you’ll be able to survive for a good long while.
This is again something that homeowners need to stock up on rather than apartment dwellers. If you’re facing the eye of a hurricane, you’ll want to board up your windows in advance of the storm coming. But of course everyone else is going to want to do the same thing, so plywood will be sold out at your local hardware store pretty quickly. Even if you’re only on the edges of a storm, you may have windows blown out by wind, tree limbs, flying lawn furniture, etc.
Measure your windows and make sure you have enough plywood on hand to cover everything. Even if it turns out you don’t need it for the storm, it still can come in handy around the house at some point. And it’s cheap enough that you can afford to keep a decent supply of it on hand.
Tarps are another way of covering up broken windows or protecting sensitive items from water damage. They’ll be sold out before a storm comes too, so make sure that you stock up beforehand if you think you’ll need them.