Easy Hurricane supply List: Updated for 2020 Hurricane Season
I don’t remember preparing for hurricanes when I was little. Jacksonville is in the ideal little geographic dip, so most storms miss us. The worst we’ve ever had, at least in my lifetime, was a result of outer bands of from hurricanes and tropical systems hitting other parts of the state. The past few years though – inconveniently the years that I’ve been a homeowner and married to a storm first responder, wth! – we’ve dealt with Matthew and Irma in succession.
But I’ll never forget the aftermath from Hurricane Andrew. My family and I collected hurricane supplies and drove them down to Miami a few times and I will tell you what. I’ve never seen anything like it since. Boats on roofs. Pine trees stuck in windows like they’d been shot out of a canon. A debris-strewn field where a subdivision once was. Sand from the ocean 10 miles inland. What I saw in person after Hurricane Andrew is the No. 1 reason I don’t mess around when it comes to hurricanes.
If you’re new to these parts, I’ll tell you a secret: prepping for a hurricane at the last minute stinks.
Multiply by 100 if you have a full time job, pets or kids to plan for! I must have gone to Walmart and Publix 4,294 times in the week leading up to Hurricane Irma, along with everyone else in town. And I spent an unholy amount of money because I didn’t really have a plan and our pantry was painfully empty. You just keep thinking of things you might need, like batteries, bread or Jenga. And what if there was a true emergency and no power for weeks and I suddenly had a craving for Fruit Roll-Ups? THEN WHAT?! Throw them in the cart. What if I needed canned ravioli 3 days into a power shortage? CART.
Friends, that is no way to live. I decided last year to create an easy-to-use list of hurricane supplies during the off-season, so next time there was an impending storm, I could quickly and easily order almost everything to my door, avoiding Walmart and all the bread-hoarders therein. And since I already whipped it up, I thought why not share it with y’all?!
Who is this hurricane supply list for?
You would not believe how many people here in Florida, a rude middle-finger-like appendage pointing toward the nexus of tropical systems, don’t have a clue how to prepare. More folks die from ignorance during storms than anything else. Driving through flooded streets. Walking around during high winds. Using a generator inside.
You would be surprised how many people don’t realize that if the power is out, you can’t use the microwave. Or that everything in the fridge and freezer could go bad. Gas pumps might not work. Shipping may be delayed. Stores and restaurants might not be able to open. After Irma last year, I have to say, I was astonished at how many people complained when Target wasn’t open the day after the storm. No one had power, but everyone expected Target to have miraculously avoided the storm.
I worry for many of my fellow citizens if the zombie apocalypse ever comes to pass. But, I digress.
My hometown of Jacksonville is a transitional place; lots of folks are here in the military or from out of town. The first hurricane for a transplant from up north or the Midwest can be a freaky time, so this is for all of y’all, too. Order this stuff now that way when the time comes, you’ll have time to think about whether or not to board the windows or get the heck out of Dodge, instead of, “Do we have enough Fruit Roll-Ups?!”
There are two ways to use this handy dandy list of hurricane necessities.
- Order everything now in preparation for what looks to be another active hurricane season
- Bookmark so you can get a quick delivery in next time the radar looks ominous
- Wait, three ways. You can send to that person in your life who never prepares for hurricane season and then wants to come to your house and eat all your emergency Poptarts. Not this year, Scooter. Here’s the link to the whole hurricane supplies list: https://amzn.to/2wWBwhB
Hear me on one thing before you dive in, y’all.
All the supplies in the world aren’t going to keep you safe in a Category 3, 4 or 5 storm.
What happened in 2018 with Hurricane Michael was unfathomable, except it wasn’t. Even 1s and 2s can be catastrophic, so why anyone expects anything different amazes me. It’s not so much about the numbers, but about common sense and safety first. If a mandatory evacuation is issued, or if your particular circumstances warrant it, just go. Don’t be the hero who tries to protect your stuff. If a tree is going to smash through your kitchen, it’s going to happen with or without you there. You do not want to be the person waiting for five days on your roof for a helicopter ride because you didn’t evacuate when you were told to.
Can’t afford a hotel? Don’t want to drive inland? There are always going to be plenty of shelters open. And many have facilities for pets.
The worst thing in the world is waiting until it’s too late to leave and then realizing, oh yeah, Grandma’s oxygen tank needs ELECTRICITY and we don’t have any. Well, sorry about your family, Grandma. Scooter never did have any common sense.
If you don’t have to evacuate, but a storm is imminent, you’re in for a loud and scary ride. Often even if the storm doesn’t hit directly! Neither Matthew nor Irma hit Jacksonville directly. The winds we had were barely tropical storm force. And yet, many folks lost their homes entirely, thousands faced catastrophic flooding (like my parents!) and trees crushed plenty of homes and cars. Imagine if we’d actually been hit by the full force! (You don’t have to imagine too hard. Just look at what happened in the Caribbean last year and to Florida in 2018.)
Hurricane Supplies List*
*This is not a comprehensive list of everything you’ll need. It’s more of an easy spot to order stuff on the fly. You’ll still want to tailor this for your family and make sure you have extra prescriptions, cash and digital copies of all your important documents.
First Aid Kit. The easiest thing to do is to buy a pre-packaged kit, because you can avoid overthinking all the various bandage sizes. Make sure your kit comes in a waterproof container and has a first-aid manual, splint, antiseptic wipes, soap, antibiotic ointment, sterile gauze pads of different sizes, adhesive tape, adhesive bandages in several sizes, hydrogen peroxide, hydrocortisone cream / calamine lotion, acetaminophen and ibuprofen, tweezers, scissors, safety pins, instant cold packs, alcohol wipes, a thermometer and plastic (non-latex) gloves.
If you want to be ready for anything, check out the survival kits with a little bit of everything!
Weather radio. Battery-powered, hand-cranked, solar or all of the above. This is a must! If the power goes out and your cell battery dies, you end up sitting in the dark with no idea if a tornado is spinning up in your neighborhood. We’ve had to shelter in place many times over the years because of these tropical tornadoes, and it’s the weather radio that keeps us in the know. Some models have built-in flashlights – bonus!
Lights. Lots of folks stock up on candles, but in the South when the power is out and the windows are boarded up, it’s too darn hot to have a bunch of candles burning. Battery powered lanterns are nice because you can cart them around the house with you as you move from room to room. No risk of burning the house down or dripping candle wax all over. We’ve got lots of solar lights decorating the backyard these days, so in a pinch, you could use those, too. I just ordered this solar powered/hand-crank emergency radio, flashlight, beacon, cell charger combo lantern. Headlamps come in really handy, too. I assure you, my house is more LIT during a hurricane than when we actually have electricity.
Cleanup supplies. You really just can’t predict what’s going to happen after the storm, so it helps to have rubber gloves, bleach, plastic sheeting, tarps, duct tape and industrial garbage bags on hand. Stock up on wet wipes and hand sanitizer, too. Things get grimy fast when the power is out for more than a day or two, and you want to prevent mold/mildew from taking over if you can.
Plastic Bins. I have all our important family documents – insurance policies, identification and bank account records – saved in a waterproof, portable container. If we have to evacuate, I chuck the whole thing in the car and don’t have to go digging. My documents are also saved electronically in the Cloud so if my whole house were to wash away, I’d still have all the info. Don’t forget to add your passports to the bin if you keep them elsewhere.
Manual can opener. All the canned food in the world isn’t going to help if you only have an electric can opener! Scoop up a cheap one here.
Portable chargers. I have a drawer filled with these from swag bags and conferences – I just have to remember to charge them all before the power goes out. My favorite portable charger I ever had was the Cobra Jumpack, which can charge your phone 4-5 times AND can jump start your car with provided jumper cables.
Extra batteries. This one makes me laugh at myself. Last year, I loaded us up on batteries of every size, but then realized we don’t have anything battery powered. So we have a stockpile of batteries if you need to borrow some!
Water. This is a big topic!
- I absolutely hate buying bottled water and only do so in emergencies.
- Water is the first thing to fly off store shelves, so if you happen to be working or busy during the initial rush, ordering online can save you from having to drive to every store in town in search of a recent delivery.
- The rule of thumb is 1 gallon of water per person for at least three days. We have a lot more than that because of my experience with Hurricane Andrew.
- Also… it doesn’t have to just be water. If you drink Diet Coke or White Claw or La Croix or juice normally, feel free to stockpile that, too. You don’t have to drink plain water just because there’s no power. **Please note, caffeine addicts, Starbucks may be closed – I know, the horror! – so you better plan ahead.
- For toilet flushing and other non-drinking water situations, fill up the bathtubs before the storm and keep a bucket nearby.
TIP: Don’t forget to factor in water for pets as part of your overall water count.
Food. This is a fun one! If I can find one positive thing in living through tropical storms and hurricanes, it’s my diet. I like to use natural disasters as a time to stress eat whatever I want. Diets are out the window. Rule of thumb: you should stockpile at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable foods for each person. Don’t forget to factor in allergies, food sensitivities and that fact that anything in the fridge or freezer needs to be eaten ASAP if the power goes out.
TIP: We have a hurricane supplies shelf in the pantry where we keep all the emergency canned goods, batteries, first aid kit, etc. Somehow, the Poptarts and Little Debbies have to get replaced much more frequently than the canned peas. Weird, right?
Hurricane pantry faves: canned veggies, fruit cocktail, pudding packs, nuts, fruit leathers, snack cakes, peanut butter, smoked oysters, tuna pouches.The trick is to buy calorie dense foods that’ll keep for a while. The hard part is not eating them before or during the storm.
Gas-powered generator. Whether you get a direct hit or just some outer bands, there’s a good chance you’ll lose power. Once, we lost power for a whole week and all we had was some tropical storm-force wind. And as you know, my Mom’s house flooded in Irma and she didn’t have power for quite a while. Generators hooked up to dehumidifiers helped the situation, but we never had one before.
Permit me to fuss for a moment. As someone whose husband disappears for weeks after every storm to get the power back on, nothing gets my goat like listening to folks complaining that the power is out. “It’s been two days! We’re hot! Why isn’t the power back on? The power company sucks!” Listen, Scooter. If air conditioning and/or electricity are life or death for you, then you either need to evacuate or buy a generator. It’s a natural disaster, not something you can just fix overnight for millions of people.
Generators range from about $200 to up to $1,300 or more. Don’t forget: You’ll need to have gas for those generators and there might not be any after the storm, so fill up a few gas cans and keep them in the garage.
For Kiddos. We don’t have our foster kids yet, but I imagine it’s going to add quite a new layer of planning to our hurricane season strategy! I know that anytime there’s a mega hurricane, like say, Harvey in Houston or Michael in the Pandhandle, one of the main requests from survivors is baby formula and diapers. Seems like that would be a priority in planning ahead, but I imagine just having kids makes prepping for storms extra challenging. My friends who’ve weathered storms with little ones seem to lose their minds after about 36 hours, so I recommend either evacuating or stocking up on games. Once we are parents ourselves, I’ll update this section with more tips.
I don’t have the rest of my life to make this the most comprehensive list ever, but take a look at what you need to get by and just make sure you have extra. Prescription medication, extra contact lenses, tampons, etc. And be sure to re-think your needs at the start of every hurricane season and update your kit as your family’s needs change.
So what if you buy a bunch of stuff before the storm and you aren’t affected? We had lots of extra supplies from the last two hurricanes, so we donated to our friends in Houston, Puerto Rico and Panama City/Mexico Beach. There’s always going to be someone who needs it, so if storage space is an issue, you can easily share bottled water and canned goods with a shelter when hurricane season is over.