Last year’s hurricane season was one of the most destructive on record. Seventeen named storms destroyed neighborhoods and displaced their residents.
Hurricanes cannot be controlled, and if you are in the path of a storm, evacuation should be your top priority — and you should prepare for any eventuality with an emergency disaster supply kit. It can take days for help to arrive after a hurricane hits, but a kit that includes the items in this list could get you through the aftermath of the next Harvey, Maria or Florence.
Here’s everything you need should a hurricane or tropical storm strike.
There’s a chance that city water will stop running during and for some time after a hurricane. For both drinking and sanitation, you want to have one gallon of water per day, for at least three days, for each person in your household. Don’t forget water for pets as well.
Your kit should include at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food items, such as canned goods, fruit cups, cereal bars and trail mix. Don’t forget a non-electric can opener and utensils.
Dry sleep is the warmest sleep, so store a blanket and pillow in plastic bags to keep any water out. You’ll want them when it’s time to get some much-needed shut-eye.
Pack at least one complete change of clothes, sturdy footwear and rain gear, such as a poncho. You’ll be able to stay comfortable, dry and warm during a storm. The extra clothing also means you could double up on layers if necessary.
You’ll want to be ready to respond to storm damage such as a power outage or gas leak. Stock a toolbox with a wrench or pliers to help you turn off any valves, and pack a flashlight to help you see. A battery-operated or hand-crank NOAA weather radio will help you stay connected to news and rescue efforts if the power goes out or cellular networks are down.
Power outages from a storm can knock out ATMs and credit card terminals, so have an emergency supply of cash, along with important family documents, such as copies of insurance policies, bank account numbers and identification. Write down important phone numbers and contact information for people you may need to reach if your cellphone dies. In case of medical emergencies, you should keep a few first-aid supplies in the kit, especially antiseptic ointment, elastic and adhesive bandages, sterile gauze dressing, ibuprofen and aspirin (which should not be given to children).
Often overlooked in emergency situations, maintaining good personal hygiene helps prevent infections and illnesses. To conserve clean, safe water, consider using wipes for a few days instead of taking a shower. Along with the basic toiletries, such as a toothbrush and toothpaste, don’t forget to pack prescription medications.
Waiting out a storm can feel long — and even longer if you’re a kid. Pack a few books, games and toys to avoid catching cabin fever.
Once you’ve assembled your disaster supply kit, store it in a cool, dry place, and don’t forget to replace perishable items, such as water, food and medications, as needed.
For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website.