Disaster Preparedness: A Complete Guide to Building a Hurricane Kit
Is your state prone to hurricanes? If so, it pays to have a hurricane kit ready to go at a moment's notice.
You hope it never happens to you, to your state, to your city. But even though experts can track hurricanes and give warnings, they can change course and cause more damage than expected.
Damage from a hurricane can destroy utilities, flood roads, and prevent you from getting to stores or safer locations. And in the worst storms, help can sometimes take days or weeks to arrive.
You need to equip your hurricane survival kit with everything you'll need to wait out a storm and possibly wait for rescue. This includes water filters, a hand-crank radio, a fire starter, and much more.
Wondering how to build an emergency preparedness kit that could mean the difference between life and death? Keep reading to find out.
Risks of a Hurricane
Before listing out what you'll need in your hurricane kit, let's take a second to assess what happens when a hurricane strikes.
First off, when a tropical thunderstorm, originating in the Atlantic Ocean, has sustained winds of 74 mph, it's considered a hurricane, otherwise known as a tropical cyclone.
Typically, these take place between June 1 and November 30, which is hurricane season, though most hit the US in August or September. They affect southeastern states, such as Florida, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, and a few others. Florida receives more than twice as many hurricanes as the second most hurricane-prone state; Texas.
So when a hurricane hits, it's coming with extremely powerful winds. Winds are often known to blow roofs off of buildings and send debris and trees flying.
Heavy rains accompany these winds, along with a storm surge. Storm surge ocean water pushes up onto land, flooding coastal cities. The rainfall inland can also flood cities, often covering entire homes.
So what happens when a hurricane hits your town? Utilities are likely to go out. This means no electricity, natural gas, internet, or phone lines.
It also means that plumbing will stop working, which means no drinking water. And if your home floods, it's likely you can't evacuate or go to a store to find food.
So if you need to wait until help arrives, you'll need at least a 72 Hour Emergency Kit, otherwise known as a bug-out bag, prepared to handle all of these important factors.
How to Build a Hurricane Kit
Ideally, you can evacuate before a storm hits. But this isn't always possible, especially when the storm changes course and hits your town by surprise.
No matter what, if you live in a hurricane-prone area, you need a kit assembled ahead of time. Here are the basic supplies you'll want to include:
Water and Water Filters
The most important thing you need to have to survive for multiple days is clean, safe emergency drinking water. When heavy winds and flooding occurs, the first thing affected is your drinking water supply.
Have at least a gallon of water per person, per day, set aside. Considering hurricanes are most likely to happen during the hot, humid summer, more water is better.
Also, make sure you have a portable water filter. This can be a straw filter, a squeeze bag system, or purification tablets. Certified water filters can remove almost any trace of viruses, bacteria, or other contaminants. Though you can't use them in saltwater.
You'll want to have at least three days worth of emergency food in your kit. Considering how light and small certain freeze-dried food can be, more is better.
The best food to stock up on is any type of long-term food or that which has a long shelf life and can be eaten without electricity. Canned food works well since it can last a long-time and no cooking is required (though it's probably preferred).
The downside of canned food is how heavy it is. Be sure to pack a can opener.
Freeze-dried food is an excellent option, but generally requires the addition of hot water. If you pack a portable backpacking stove, then freeze-dried food is a good choice.
It's lightweight and packs down smaller, allowing you to store more in your kit than canned food. It also tastes much better than cold beans.
If you choose to pack a stove, you can choose any type of backpacking stove. They are small and easy to use. Just make sure to stock up on the appropriate fuel, which might be propane gas or liquid alcohol. Make sure to pack a small pot that can be used to boil water.
First Aid Kit
Your first aid kit alone has the power to save a life from infection or other injuries, so make sure not to leave anything out.
You'll want supplies to care for scratches and wounds to stop bleeding and prevent infection. This includes bandages, gauze, tape, and cotton balls.
You'll want instant cold packs to bring down swelling. Duct tape, superglue, and petroleum jelly will all have important uses in the case of an emergency.
Antibiotic ointment, hand sanitizer, antiseptic solution, hydrogen peroxide, and alcohol wipes are all important to clean and care for wounds. You'll also want common medications, such as pain relievers, cough medicine, hydrocortisone cream, antihistamine, antacids, anti-diarrhea, and aloe vera gel
Pack tools such as tweezers, scissors, safety pins, and a thermometer. Make sure your first aid kit has masks, allowing you to breathe safely in the event of dusty conditions.
While you can assemble your own safety kit, it's often more cost-effective to purchase a preassembled kit. That way, you don't miss out on anything important, either.
Power and Fire Starter
Whether you are sheltering at work or home, likely, you won't have power, lighting, or heat in the event of a hurricane.
For safety, ensure you have ample light sources. You can stock up on portable solar lights that can charge up all day and provide light all night.
On top of that, make sure to have multiple flashlights as well as spare batteries. A headlamp is a great option when needing to keep your hands free at night.
You can also pack a portable power supply, which can usually hold enough power to charge a mobile phone multiple times. This can also charge other important items, such as USB lights or radios.
Having a fire starter is also a great idea. A fire can be used to signal to others that you need rescue. It can also be used to boil and purify water, cook, and provide warmth. Pack a fair amount of matches in a waterproof container.
Shelter and Warmth
Make sure your kit has a large piece of tarp that you can assemble a basic shelter with. You should have emergency blankets for each person in your household to stay warm and add a sense of comfort. Sleeping bags can work as well but are much bulkier.
Hand Crank Radio
It's vital that you can receive important communications while you wait out a storm or wait for rescue. A hand-crank radio can function as an NOOA weather radio.
An NOOA weather alert radio will notify you of emergency weather notifications even when you are not tuned into the correct station or if the radio is off. This ensures you won't miss out on lifesaving information.
If you opt for a multifunctional hand-crank radio, the power you generate by turning the crank can be used for many things. It can power a built-in flashlight. It can also generate power to charge a cell phone or other USB device.
Considering that most technology will be useless in the event of an emergency, such as cell phones or laptops, a durable, self-powered hand-crank radio that can receive emergency signals no matter what is a vital piece of gear.
There are a handful of other extremely helpful items you may choose to include in your kit. This can include basic tools such as a multitool, pocket knife, whistle, or a wrench to turn off utilities.
Paracord is also useful in a variety of ways, such as hanging a shelter or drying out wet clothes.
Flood bags are essentially sandless sandbags. They activate when they come in contact with water and can be used to create an effective barricade to keep out floodwater.
It's also helpful to have waterproof maps of your local area in case you need to get to a hurricane shelter or evacuate without a working GPS.
Buy a Premade Survival Kit
There's a lot that goes into crafting an effective hurricane safety kit. While it can seem overwhelming, it has the potential to save your life.
If building out your own kit seems stressful, or if you'd like to make it as easy as possible, you can purchase a premade hurricane kit.
We offer a two-person hurricane kit with everything you need to safely and confidently wait out a storm. We bundle it into a five-gallon bucket that's topped with a toilet seat lid.
It's filled with everything mentioned above. The products inside each bucket come with a five-year shelf life.
If you don't think this is the right kit for you, or if you'd like to add additional gear, we also offer kits for children, pet kits, and many other emergency preparedness kits.
How to Store Your Emergency Preparedness Kit
If you are building out your own kit, you'll want to store everything in one or two easy-to-carry packages. This could be in five-gallon buckets with lids, a large, durable, plastic tote, or duffel bags.
It helps to store pieces of gear in smaller, waterproof bags inside the buckets. Label each bag accordingly to make it easy to find a specific item when needed.
Store your kit in a cool, dry place. Ensure each person in your household knows where it is and how important it is to access in the case of an emergency.
Set yourself a calendar reminder for each year to go through your kit and check expiration dates. Make sure all of your products are up to date, especially consumables.
Add in any relevant ideas. For example, if you have a newborn, you'll want to ensure you have diapers, wipes, and baby formula in the kit. After a year or two, you may or may not still need this in the kit.
Other Ways to Prepare Before Hurricane Season
Aside from having a fully outfitted survival kit, how can you be prepared for a hurricane?
The most important thing you can do is create a plan ahead of time. If you receive an evacuation warning before a hurricane, you want to know exactly which route you are going to take to leave home.
Everyone in your family should have a shortlist of important items that they can grab in five minutes or less before evacuating. Locate and write down hurricane shelters near your home, your workplace, and along your planned evacuation route.
The most important thing to do is follow instructions from local authorities. Always follow instructions and directions in the event of an emergency.
Of course, you hope it's never going to happen to you. But if it does, you want to be prepared so that you can make it out the other side.
Confidence and Peace of Mind
When it comes to preparing for a hurricane that you hope to never meet, having a plan and a hurricane kit ready to go is vital. With water filters, a hand-crank radio, a fire starter, and the other essentials mentioned above, you will be able to ride out an emergency and come out the other side.
You cannot wait until a hurricane warning comes before trying to assemble or purchase a survival kit. You need to plan ahead and prepare your emergency preparedness kit before hurricane season even comes.
Once it's assembled, you'll never need to redo it. You'll just take stock each year and swap out any expired items. But otherwise, you'll always be ready.
To make it easier on yourself, order a premade survival kit to enjoy peace of mind and confidence that you are prepared for anything.
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