As I was coming home from a wonderful trip to Disney, Hurricane Irma was making her way towards Florida. I was not prepared for a hurricane at all! I literally dropped my luggage off at the house and was back out in less than 30 minutes to grab supplies. We came home on Tuesday late afternoon and Hurricane Irma was not expected to hit until the weekend. When you are looking at the strongest recorded hurricane that is headed your way and also happens to be 400 miles wide panic starts to occur. That was some scary shizit!
When I arrived at Publix (our grocery store) anxiety started to set in. I grabbed the last cart and people were frantic in the store. Quickly I saw there was zero water. I immediately left and went to Walgreens. Everything was at Walgreens was off the shelves and the cooler section had one 20 ounce bottle of water. Luckily they had the little coke coolers up front and I took every water bottle I could get my hands on. Which was about 15 bottles. Feeling like I scored the Lotto, I raced back to Publix to try and gather some more things.
Having my 3-year-old with me while shopping is not always easy. Trying to shop when people are freaking out and having her with me is really tough. They already didn’t have her favorite toddler car cart and I had to negotiate with her to just sit in a regular one. I also couldn’t really concentrate on what I should get. People were just frantically buying things and it was like this for days. I am never going to be unprepared again!!
We had always been super lucky with never having a direct hit and nothing like the magnitude of Irma. So outside of water, some can goods, flashlight, and snacks and maybe putting up plywood; we never really needed more than that. If your power went out maybe it was for a couple of hours or almost a day, tops. This storm was a whole new ballgame. We needed supplies for days and to prepare for the power being out for days or weeks. We had to prepare for not having water to drink or flush a toilet and we had to prepare a safe room. So with that being said, I hope you will find my hurricane supply list and tips helpful to prepare for your next storm.
Hurricane Supply List and Hurricane Safety Tips
Have gas in your car. Even if you are staying and are not evacuating. After the hurricane is over you still need to be able to get around town or go to work and if there is a gas shortage you are going to be in a bind. Get a gas can and have that ready to go as well. If you the storm happens to a big one like Irma was the entire state was affected, as well as neighboring states. Millions of people are getting gas. If you wanted to get out of the state; a full tank of gas is only going to go so far and then you will be stranded and still possibly in harm’s way with no gas.
Also, if you have a grill make sure you have plenty of propane to cook with. If you have a generator you will want to have enough to run it.
Have enough for at least 3 days. You can fill up your bathtubs (as long as you have a rubber drain cover, otherwise the water will just slowly drain out). This happened to us. Make sure you have this on hand. We didn’t realize that we needed one until it was too late. Luckily we had extra home depot buckets and was able to fill those. If your store is out of water, grab some gallons of the store made lemonade or tea and replace with tap or filtered water. Fill pitchers at home with filtered or tap water as well.
Grab a couple bags of ice and some gallon Ziploc freezer bags. Fill them up and pack them in your freezer. This is so much faster than waiting for your ice maker to keep making more ice. Set your refrigerator to the coldest setting. A packed freezer stays colder longer and when the power goes out (after a couple hours) transfer some of the bags of ice into your refrigerator. This will help keep delay your food from spoiling. Also, if you run out of water, the ice will melt and you can use the bagged water.
Hamburger buns, loaves, and frankfurter buns. I was shocked how quickly bread was taken. Thankfully I had stocked up before we left for Disney with buy one get ones and had some already in the freezer otherwise we would have had zero bread.
- Canned Goods:
Soups, tuna, chicken, vegetables, beans, pasta sauces. What went quickly was all the tuna and chicken. You could still find soup or beans, but every can of tuna or chicken was taken in every store. Make sure you have a can opener that is not electric.
- Shelf life food or snacks:
Instant coffee, powdered milk, chips, crackers, peanut butter, jelly, cereal, pudding cups, salsa, dips, cookies, nuts. If you have toddlers or kids, stock up on some juice boxes, veggies or fruit pouches. You can also get applesauce and fruit in individual cups as opposed to a jar that needs to be refrigerated. Same for some ranch dressings and jellies.
- Fresh fruit or produce:
Grapes, bananas, apples, oranges all will last a few days without refrigeration. Potatoes and corn can be grilled, frozen hamburgers, sausages, chicken. Eat these up first before hitting the dry snacks.
Flashlights, candles, lanterns. Make sure you have plenty of matches or lighters.
If you have them yay for you!! We just recently moved and thankfully our new house has them! If you don’t have shutters and have to make your own. Plywood goes fast. I would get these before getting water. Some of my friends who do not have shutters never were able to even put up wood. No big deal if a category 1 is coming through but anything more than that you probably want to get some wood. Especially if you don’t have the newer high wind resistance windows. Worst case scenario you can always try duct taping your windows to help in case it shatters.
Consider evacuating if you can’t get ply wood and it is going to be a Category 3 or higher. If you can’t get shutters and you are going leave put some towels down on the window sills to help soak up any rain that may come in.
If you live in a flood zone or lower level evacuation zone you want to do your best to prevent water intrusion. People get very creative if supplies for sandbags run out. Kitty litter or mulch are alternatives.
- Bike Helmets:
Head protection for a serious storm. If you or your child has a helmet this will protect you against possible flying debris entering or leaving your home.
- Life Vests:
If you are in an area that may get a possible storm surge, you may want to have some life vests. Especially if you have elderly or young children staying in your home. People have died in storms because they get trapped in the attic and their house is flooding. Water can rise quickly and you can quickly get caught with no exit. Get to the roof if you can.
- Battery Radio:
This was super nice to have. When we lost power, internet and wifi, having a radio to listen to the news was very helpful.
- Phone apps:
Zello and Firechat. Sign up for apps and get your family and friends usernames. Zello is a walkie-talkie style app that goes off your wifi and uses less data. Firechat uses any available data that is around including radio but is set up like texting. This worked a little longer than Zello but once everything goes you are pretty much isolated. I wasn’t able to make phone calls and had intermittent service texting for a couple days after the hurricane even after I had power back on. Zello was my favorite, but I used both (whichever was working) until my phone service returned to normal.
If you are lucky to have one, make sure you use it outside the home and have plenty of extension cords to plug in appliances. Think of how far the nearest door is from your refrigerator, and plan accordingly.
- Battery Fan:
If the power goes out, before long you will be hot. Make sure it is charged up.
Cards, monopoly, scrabble, board games. It can get pretty boring with no power, tv, or internet.
Stock up! Gatorade, juice pouches, or canned soda does not need to be refrigerated. Don’t forget about booze. Box wine is handy as it is vacuum sealed and won’t go bad quickly. A little wine or vodka goes a long way for me! Helps ease the stress too!
Start doing laundry as soon as you can. If the power and water go you want to have clean clothes during and after. Especially if you have a dress code at work. When it’s time to return to work and you do not have power for days or weeks, you will want access to clean work clothes. Same for children returning to school, having their stuff ready to go is one less thing to worry about.
- Safe Room:
If you are going to get pretty severe winds plan a safe room. You want to be in a space that is surrounded by block construction, little to no windows and have if possible a mattress or something that you can cover yourself with. We were going to use our laundry room that is off of our garage and was enclosed with no windows. We had our daughters mattress ready to go if we needed it and blankets and pillows. Some people use bathrooms or closets as well.
- Close Interior Doors:
Having the interior doors to your house closed will help with the air pressure.
Make sure all your medications are filled.
- Paper Plates and Cups:
When power or water goes you are not going to want to have a collection of dirty dishes hanging out. Especially if you are hosting people that had to evacuate.
- Yard Trash Bags:
This is for cleaning up debris after the storm. We used 10 bags and couldn’t find any more to buy. Stores were sold out.
- Evacuation Zone:
Look on your county’s government site and find out what evacuation zone you are living in. Even if you are not right on the coast, if storm surge happens or your neighborhood is in a flood zone, you want to know what zone level you are. When they start announcing zone’s to evacuate you will know if you are next on the list.
I hope you find my hurricane supply list and tips useful to prepare for your next hurricane! Please have a hurricane safety plan. What are some of your favorite tips to prepare for a hurricane?
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