The Supplies You Should Have in Your Hurricane Kit

Top emergency preparedness experts shared their tips, tricks and a few of the more unusual items on their shopping lists this year to make sure your hurricane kit is ready for the worst of whatever weather comes our way.

by Anastasia Dawson, Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg, Fla. / June 3, 2019
A basic hurricane kit from Bill Jackson's sporting goods in Pinellas Park. Items in photo include: Large tote carrier or ice chest, center, portable camping stove with cooking set and utensils, center, Portable fresh water container, front left, batteries, multiple sizes, front left, insect repellent, bottom center, flashlight, bottom, center, battery-operated lantern, front, right, solar-powered charger/charges electronic items using small solar panels, bottom right, freeze-dried food kit, various foods, center left, rain poncho, center right, sleeping bag, center right, pillow, back left, portable fan that charges electronic items, back right, water purification unit and water bottle/mister, water purification tablets and waterproof matches/lighter, top of cooler, left, battery operated/chargeable portable radio/walkie talkie and weather radio and first aid kit, top of cooler, right. TNS

(TNS) — You bought batteries, found the flashlights and stockpiled sandbags. You’re not ready yet, though.

The region’s top emergency preparedness experts shared their tips, tricks and a few of the more unusual items on their shopping lists this year to make sure your hurricane kit is ready for the worst of whatever weather comes our way.

Start with a thorough evaluation of any existing supply kits you’re relying on this hurricane season, said Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council director of resilience Brady Smith. Stocking a household hurricane kit is a lot like preparing for a long camping trip, he said. Stock up on enough supplies to keep every family member comfortable and safe for up to seven days — say, for a worst-case scenario storm.

Keep everything in a portable cooler or a durable, waterproof tote that’s easy to grab at a moment’s notice. And if your hurricane kit has survived several seasons untouched, it’s time to double-check expiration dates and identify what’s missing before store shelves empty.

“Guarding against complacency is the biggest hurdle we face year after year,” Smith said. “Every single year, residents still need to make sure they have fresh hurricane supplies packed up and ready to go, so whether they have a couple days to evacuate or a couple hours they know they’re ready.”

Check expiration dates and stock upEmergency food stores, including pet food, baby food, infant formula and other dietary items should be replaced every six months. The council recommends packing enough freeze-dried or canned food for three days per person. Look for high-calorie, non-refrigerated food items like peanut butter, powdered sports drinks high in electrolytes and protein bars to help maintain energy in humid conditions. A camp stove with extra propane will extend your menu options.

It takes a lot to quench everyone’s thirstEvery person in your group needs seven gallons of water — enough so everyone has one gallon per day for every day of the week. That’s in case water supplies become contaminated. You should always keep water purification tablets on hand and should consider investing in portable devices like water bottles, plastic pitchers or personal straws that come with filtration systems to ensure access to clean, potable drinking water at all times.

Print before you lose powerEven if you think you know what you’ll need before the storm arrives, don’t take any chances. Take the time to pick up or print out the hurricane preparedness guides or emergency kit checklists provided by your county’s emergency management agency, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (www.floridadisaster.org) or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (www.dhs.gov).

Double-check, then triple-checkIt’s the small things that could cause big problems during a disaster. If you buy canned goods, make sure you also have a manual can opener — not an electric one. Double check that your flashlights have batteries, your gas cans are full and your power banks are fully charged before you lose power. Make sure you have enough cash to last a week, in case local ATMs are knocked out.

“It’s the things that seem obvious, like a can opener or tons of batteries that people forget to check,” Smith said, “especially if they’ve had a hurricane kit for years.”

Medical and medicinalEvery family member needs to have their prescriptions ready to take with them in an evacuation or just to make sure they don’t run out while pharmacies are shuttered. In Florida, doctors can provide a 90-day supply for most medications. The council recommends taking enough to last two weeks. Every hurricane kit should also include first aid supplies, hand sanitizer, insect repellent, sunscreen, garbage bags — and toilet paper.

Gear upStock up on basic camping gear such as waterproof matches, hand-crank radios, external cellphone chargers, solar chargers and waterproof gadget cases.

Stay comfyPack clothes, pillows, inflatable mattresses, sleeping bags and anything else you’ll need to stay comfortable if you have to evacuate to a shelter. Old-fashioned entertainment like board games, playing cards and books may also help.

Contact Anastasia Dawson at adawson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3377. Follow @adawsonwrites.

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane

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