Learn from safety experts what items you need to gather now.

By Christine Coppa
July 21, 2020
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Emergency preparation, natural disaster supplies.
Credit: fstop123 / Getty Images

Since we're lucky enough to have access to weather predicting technology from the National Hurricane Center, who are constantly updating us all on brewing storms, it's a good idea to use these advanced notices to get prepped for any approaching hurricane. This means gathering up a hurricane survival kit.

"When preparing a hurricane survival kit, first and foremost, it is important to make two — one kit to keep in the home and one ready to take with you should you need to evacuate," says Sheldon Yellen, CEO of BELFOR Property Restoration and an expert in disaster response and recovery. "Once you have a survival kit ready to go, homeowners should set aside time to practice emergency drills with their loved ones, so that they are best prepared if a hurricane strikes."

Yellen says your kit should include, at a minimum, the following:

Bottled Water

According to Ready.gov, every kit should include one gallon of water per person, per day, for at least three days. This amount is based around the idea that you're going to be evacuated or rescued. On the flip side, FEMA advises a two-week supply, in case you find yourself trapped in your home. Don't forget your furry family members and remember that your pets will need to stay hydrated too. If you know a storm is on the horizon, fill up containers with tap water in addition to purchasing bottled water.

Non-Perishable food

You need at least a three day food supply, per person and per pet. Some practical ideas include canned fish, meat, beans, soups, and stews, along with beef jerky, protein bars, and dried fruits or veggies. Don't forget to pack one or two manual can openers, otherwise your canned goods will be useless. "While it is important to pack nutritious and filling foods, it is equally important to pack snacks that appeal to your family's liking. Whether it's trail mix, gummies or pretzels, applesauce squeezers, crackers, and cookies. Having favorite snacks on hand during times of chaos will help keep your family calm and comfortable," Yellon advises. If there's an infant in the house, be sure to purchase powdered baby formula. Your pets will also need their dry and/or wet food.

Old-School Radio

Each kit should include a battery-powered radio (with extra batteries) or a hand-crank radio. The radio will keep you updated on storm conditions and rescue efforts. "BELFOR's 2019 disaster preparedness survey revealed that of the respondents who have prepared disaster kits, 78% of them failed to pack radios," Yellon says. "When disaster strikes and power lines, cell towers and networks are down, radios are your last line of power and communication.

First-Aid Kit

A deluxe first aid kit that includes more than bandages and rubbing alcohol is key. Shop for one that is efficiently packed and organized with the basic items, but also includes important things that will come in handy during a storm, like a disposable poncho, face mask, gloves, and a rescue whistle. "Toxic contaminants and dust are often released into the air following a number of natural disasters, including hurricanes and wildfires," says Yellon. "Face masks may assist in avoiding the inhalation of these airborne contaminants and prevent people from getting sick." He adds, if trapped in your home without cell phone or internet service, a whistle will help sound first responders.

IMPORTANT: Once you have a first aid kit at the ready, take stock of your immediate family's needs. Does someone need access to an EpiPen, asthma inhaler, or daily insulin? Are there any family members who take regular medications that they absolutely cannot skip? It's crucial your first aid kit also includes an adjunct water-proof bag of important and lifesaving prescription meds, over the counter pain and fever reducers, and allergy medication.

Bathroom Essentials

Even during a natural disaster you'll have to use the bathroom. Have extra garbage bags, toilet paper, wet wipes, and hand sanitizer for everyone. "It is best to purchase heavy-duty trash bags that can hold up to 45-50 gallons of waste. These trash bags are better equipped for containing strong odors and can hold enough trash without becoming too heavy to carry," Yellon says. If your family includes a baby or toddler, be sure to have a three day supply of diapers or absorbent potty-training pants. Ladies, don't forget your preferred maxi pad or tampon brand. Mouthwash and face cleansing wipes are a good idea, too.

Tools

Whether you opt to pack a mini tool kit or not, you absolutely need a single wrench. Why? To turn off utilities in an emergency situation. "BELFOR's disaster preparedness survey revealed that only 64% of respondents knew where the main water shutoff valve was in their residence. Following a natural disaster, gas, water, and electricity utilities are often damaged and can quickly become a threat to a community's health and well-being if not dealt with properly. Knowing where — and how to safely shut off these utilities can be a matter of life or death in an emergency," Yellon cautions.

Other Items

Beyond the list above, FEMA recommends keeping a fire extinguisher on-hand along with waterproof matches. Important family documents and some cash should be stored in a waterproof container or bag. Warm blankets, or sleeping bags for each person in your family are also a smart purchase. Don't forget to pack at least one full-set of dry clothes, including a rain jacket or hoodie, to stay warm and dry. Have extra fuel for a generator and your vehicle.

Entertainment should be considered too, especially if you have kids — and remember screens will likely not save the day in a stormy situation. You can't go wrong with a deck of cards, building blocks, or crayons and drawing paper.

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