Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

The gear you need to be ready for hurricane season

Imagine being stranded on deserted island. There's no food or fresh water. You can bring whatever you want with you — but you will be on your own. What do you pack, and how? Those are the essential questions you should ask yourself as you put together a hurricane kit.

• Start with a good container. You need to store your supplies and emergency gear in a plastic tote, one that is durable and easily transportable. A cooler with wheels is a good option because once you unpack your supplies you have a place to store fresh food and, if you're lucky, ice.

A person can live for weeks on scant food rations, but only a few days without water. So make sure you have an ample supply. Count on at least a gallon a day per person. Water purification tablets and/or a water filter are a good idea just in case the public water supply is compromised. Pack some electrolyte solution and/or powdered sports drink. It takes up little space and can be a literal life saver in hot, humid conditions.

Pack freeze-dried or canned food, enough for four to seven days. Relief agencies usually provide food within days of a disaster, but the extra supplies will come in handy in the event you have to share. Dense, high-calorie items are the best choice.

• A camp stove with extra propane will extend your menu options. Do not forget a manual can opener. A mess kit, plastic eating utensils and a lightweight camp cook set are a great if you have them. Freeze-dried backpacker meals are a good idea because they are light, relatively inexpensive and blessed with a long shelf life

Communication is key in any emergency situation, but don't count on having cell or Internet service after a major storm. Pack a battery-powered or hand crank radio. If possible, get one that receives All Hazard NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts so it can receive the continuous updates sent out from the nearest National Weather Service office.

Make sure you have extra batteries and portable external battery packs. Get a waterproof case for your cellphone and a solar charger.

Standard camping equipment, including a flashlight and/or a lantern, a signal whistle and mirror, a first aid kit and waterproof matches are also critical. If you need prescription medicine, make sure there's enough to last a month at least. You'll also need insect repellent and sunscreen.

Common household items, such as moist wipes and hand sanitizer, will help with personal hygiene. Paper towels and toilet paper will also prove useful. Other items, including plastic garbage bags, drop cloths, mosquito netting, duct tape and light line and rope can be used to make an emergency shelter if the need arises.

• You may also find yourself outside a lot, so don't forget the insect repellent and sunscreen.

Make sure you pack changes of clothes in a sealed, plastic bag. Include rain gear, and something warm, such as a hooded sweatshirt, in case you find yourself in an air-conditioned shelter. An inflatable mattress, lightweight blankets and/or a sleeping bag and a pillow will make your stay more comfortable. Bring along a small day pack in case you find yourself walking for supplies.

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