Having a hurricane preparedness checklist will provide reassurance that you will have thought of all the essentials (provided that they are on the list) and will greatly reduce the likelihood that you will forget something during the stressful time immediately before a potential hurricane disaster. No list is a perfect list, but perhaps this list will help get you going in the right direction.
- Pack a to-go bag: This ‘basic’ overnight bag should be easy to take with you if you have to evacuate in a hurry and should include a change of clothes, bottled water, flashlight and important documents.
- Cash: ATMs and credit card machines may not work for a while after the storm.
- Battery-operated radio: Make sure you have extra batteries too, so that you can keep up with news reports and alerts. Hand-crank radios work well, too.
- Secure a two-week supply of prescription medicine: Anyone on prescription medications, should pack a two-week supply of their meds in a sealable plastic bag, clearly labeled.
- Flashlight and lanterns: Make sure you have a couple of flashlights, candles, matches, lanterns and other alternate sources of light.
- Personal hygiene items: It might be hard to get to the store to buy toilet paper, tissues, soap and other sanitary items after the storm.
- Extra keys: Having an extra set of keys in your kit is a good idea in case people get separated or if they’re lost in a flood or the confusion.
- Pet items: Remember food, medicine and water for your pet, too.
- Disinfectant: You never know what mess you’ll have after a storm.
- Checklist: This printable checklist can serve as a guide for your own personal checklist. Give one to each family member to personalize.
- Extra batteries: You’ll need extra batteries for your radio, flashlights, and other items. Get these early before they all sell out.
- Prepare early: Emergency items sell out quickly at the stores, so stock up your kit before hurricane season even starts.
- Basic First Aid Kit: Keep this on hand for general purpose.
- Antiseptic solution: Keep this on hand to keep infections at bay.
- Allergy medicine: Storms can blow in all kinds of stuff that drive your allergies wild.
- First aid instructions: Print out instructions for the Heimlich, CPR and other basic aid in case you panic in an emergency.
- Mosquito repellant: If it floods — or even rains a lot — your area could have a serious and potentially dangerous mosquito problem.
- Prescription glasses: If you run out of contact solution or all the nastiness in the air after a storm irritates you, you’ll have back-up glasses.
- Adhesive tape: You can use this to fasten bandages, hold large lacerations together and even splint broken bones.
- Gauze, bandages and band-aids: Even little cuts and scrapes need to be dressed, so have a range of bandages on hand.
- Hand sanitizer: Nothing compares to soap and water, but in a fix, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol will help.
Repair and Maintenance
- Plywood: Nailing plywood over windows is still the best option for protecting the inside of your house.
- Sand bags: If you live in a low area, especially, use sand bags to dispel water.
- Bring outside furniture indoors: Move patio furniture and pool toys into the garage.
- Turn off utilities if you leave: Before evacuating, shut off power, propane gas and water, but leave on natural gas unless told to do so by authorities. A licensed professional is the only one who can turn it back on.
- Anchor mobile homes: Pre-1994 construction mobile homes probably aren’t anchored well enough to stand even Category 1 hurricanes.
- Buy impact resistant glass: Well before you hear about any storms, replace older windows with higher resistance ones.
- Prepare your pool: Make sure water drains fro the deck, store toys, and close umbrellas.
- Lock windows and doors: Lock up your windows and doors for personal safety and to keep the wind from blowing them open.
- Prune trees and shrubs: Loose limbs and plants will fly around easily when the winds pick up.
- Get storm shutters: Place these over glass doors, windows and skylights.
- Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Make sure these will work even if the power is out.
- Buy tarps and rope: Already have these items on hand so that you can start repairs as quickly as possible to prevent more damage.
- Fill bathtub with water: If you’re going to get hit pretty badly, give your family an extra supply of water by filling a sanitized bathtub.
Food and Water
- Food and water should last for 72 hours: Make sure you have enough supplies to last everyone in the house for at least 72 hours.
- Replace stored goods every six months: If you’re keeping a kit stocked around the year, replace food items every six months to ensure freshness and safety.
- Be aware of boil water alerts: After a storm, you may have to boil water for a few days at least due to flooded wells, spilled sewage and other contamination.
- Prepare your refrigerator ahead of time: Stock your freezer with dry ice to keep food frozen longer if the power goes out.
- Get out your ice chest: Fill an ice chest with ice or dry ice before and after the storm to keep food cold.
- Canned foods: Canned meat, fish, fruits, soups, milk and vegetables are all smart, easy-to-prepare options.
- Pick higher calorie foods: You’ll need to eat foods with more calories and nutrition per serving to sustain your energy.
- Buy perishable foods right before the storm: When everyone else is out buying canned items, you can buy cookies, raisins, dry cereal, pepperoni and cheese that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. These will give you more variety but will still last a few days if you don’t have power.
- Use camping gear: If you have basic camping gear like a small grill, you can make simple meals while the power’s out.
- Baby formula: Don’t forget to store enough baby formula and baby food if this applies to your situation.
- Consider a generator: These will make your life much easier during a storm, but understand the carbon monoxide risks.
- Keep numbers of energy companies handy: Write down or store in your phone the numbers of energy providers so that you can notify them of an outage.
- Use grills and gas cook stoves outside: Gas grills and generators carry a carbon monoxide risk.
- Stay away from downed power lines: Let trained workers clean up the damage.
- Have a realistic understanding of restoration times: It may take longer than you think. Having MORE food and water than 72 hours is a very good idea.
- Drink lots of water: When it’s hot and you don’t have A/C, drink water to stay cool and hydrated.
- Know how to connect a generator: Be sure that you or someone understands how to do this, and the dangers and precautions that must be met if connecting to the homes electrical system.
- Board games or cards: Get out board games or play cards to keep you distracted during the storm and to play if the power goes out.
- Read: Read when it’s light out, and save the radio battery for nighttime or news alerts only.
- Play with your pets: Give your pets extra attention, especially if they seem stressed or scared.
- Play charades: Games like charades or hide and go seek don’t require any power and are fun with the kids.
- Tell stories: Kids love to hear stories.
- Get to know your family better: A perfect time to ‘talk’ together instead of everyone’s head stuck in an electronic device.
Special Needs and Children
- Minimize stress: Help children cope better by minimizing stressful situations and discussions.
- Limit TV time: Don’t let your kids watch scary footage of the storm on TV.
- Pre-register for special needs shelters: If you think you will have to evacuate and are bringing a special needs or disabled person with you, pre-register to ensure space and adequate care.
- Maintain normal routines: Keeping up with a normal routine helps soothe everyone from babies to adults, provided that you are already prepared.
- Contact home health care service: If you use a home health care service, call them and ask them to check on you during and after the storm.
- Answer children’s questions: Welcome questions from children about what to do, what a hurricane is, and how to prepare for it.
- Get older kids to help: School-aged children will feel more prepared and maybe even excited if they’re allowed to help gather blankets and find batteries.
- Bunk with the neighbors: If you’re elderly, ask to spend the night at the neighbors’ house, or work out some kind of signal for help should you need it and if the phones go out.
- Stay hydrated: People who are sick and the elderly are especially at risk for dehydration.
- Know the risks: Disabled individuals will find it harder to evacuate, so know all the obstacles and risks involved in transporting them or keeping them safe in your home.
- Find a place for pets ahead of time: If you’re unable to take your pets with you, make arrangements ahead of time, and never leave your pet chained up or alone on your property. It’s cruel.
- Get a real map: You may not be able to rely on your GPS, especially if roads are blocked or flooded. Get a real map to help you find your way out.
- Plan meeting places: Pick two or three meeting places — one inside your home, one inside your neighborhood, and one outside your neighborhood for whenever the storm hits or where you plan to evacuate.
- Sleeping bag: Get a sleeping bag, blankets and pillows ready if you have to evacuate.
- Keep your gas tank full or at least half full: Fill it up all the way, but even when you’re on the road, try not to let your tank get lower than half full.
- Familiarize yourself with evacuation routes: There should be standard routes, but listen to the news to learn about any new or updated routes.
- Plan to stay with friends: Hotels will book up quickly, so plan to stay with friends or family who live inland at least for the first couple of nights.
- Find out if you live in an evacuation zone: You may not even have to worry about evacuating.
- Leave when you’re told: Avoid the worst traffic, road closures and getting stuck behind by leaving right when you’re told to go (or before if you’re pretty sure it’s going to happen).
- Carefully inspect your home upon return: Before letting children back, watch for danger, hanging electrical wires and loose debris.
- Emergency contact information: Put doctors’ phone numbers and other emergency contact information in your preparedness kit.
- Prioritize what’s important: You can’t take everything with you, but deeds, wills, Social Security cards, birth certificates and important financial statements should be collected.
- Use a USB drive: Download important data onto a flash drive and put it in a waterproof, sealable bag or container.
- Check home insurance: Do this before hurricane season starts, otherwise updated coverage may not take effect until the following year. Also look into flood insurance.
- Write down serial numbers: In case important belongings are stolen or lost in the storm, you’ll need serial numbers to get them back.
- Proof of residence: A driver’s license or mail should suffice.
- Use a fireproof safe: A fireproof safe will keep your belongings protected.
- Take video and photos: Take them of your car, home and property before and after the storm for insurance purposes.
- Know the terminology: Know the difference between tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes so that you can follow the reports better.
- Listen for warnings: Actually do what the officials tell you to do: stay put, evacuate, and/or get your supplies ready.
- Stay up to date with a weather radio: Best weather radios
- Head to a windowless room: Even if your windows are boarded up, stay in a windowless room while the winds are blowing.
- Stay downwind: This area is the opposite side of the house that the wind is hitting.
- Stay inside: Stay indoors for the entire duration of the storm, and do not go outside during the calm of the storm, when the eye passes over.
- Be careful with candles: Only light them if you have to, and set a reminder to blow them out before leaving the room or going to bed.