1. Hurricane

Hurricane 2019: The gear you need to stay safe — and comfortable — for the storm

What do you need besides batteries and water? We asked around for you.

TAMPA — You bought batteries, found the flashlights and stockpiled sandbags. You’re not ready yet, though.

The region’s top emergency preparedness experts shared their tips, tricks and a few of the more unusual items on their shopping lists this year to make sure your hurricane kit is ready for the worst of whatever weather comes our way.

Start with a thorough evaluation of any existing supply kits you’re relying on this hurricane season. Stocking a household hurricane kit is a lot like preparing for a long camping trip. The state recommends that every family member have enough food and supplies to keep them comfortable and safe for up to seven days — say, for a worst-case scenario storm.

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at

AFTERMATH: 911 calls from Hurricane Michael paint horrifying picture of what it’s like to not evacuate

Keep everything in a portable cooler or a durable, waterproof tote that’s easy to grab at a moment’s notice. And if your hurricane kit has survived several seasons untouched, it’s time to double-check expiration dates and identify what’s missing before store shelves empty.

Check expiration dates and stock up

Emergency food stores, including pet food, baby food, infant formula and other dietary items should be replaced every six months. Try to keep enough freeze-dried or canned food on hands to last each person in your group for several days. Look for high-calorie, non-refrigerated food items like peanut butter, powdered sports drinks high in electrolytes and protein bars to help maintain energy in humid conditions. A camp stove with extra propane will extend your menu options.

It takes a lot to quench everyone’s thirst

Every person in your group needs seven gallons of water — enough so everyone has one gallon per day for every day of the week. That’s in case water supplies become contaminated. You should always keep water purification tablets on hand and should consider investing in portable devices like water bottles, plastic pitchers or personal straws that come with filtration systems to ensure access to clean, potable drinking water at all times.

Print before you lose power

Even if you think you know what you’ll need before the storm arrives, don’t take any chances. Take the time to pick up or print out the hurricane preparedness guides or emergency kit checklists provided by your county’s emergency management agency, the Florida Division of Emergency Management ( or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (

Double-check, then triple-check

It’s the small things that could cause big problems during a disaster. If you buy canned goods, make sure you also have a manual can opener — not an electric one. Double check that your flashlights have batteries, your gas cans are full and your power banks are fully charged before you lose power. Make sure you have enough cash to last a week, in case local ATMs are knocked out.

Medical and medicinal

Every family member needs to have their prescriptions ready to take with them in an evacuation or just to make sure they don’t run out while pharmacies are shuttered. In Florida, doctors can provide a 90-day supply for most medications. Make sure you have at least two weeks worth of medicine. Every hurricane kit should also include first aid supplies, hand sanitizer, insect repellent, sunscreen, garbage bags — and toilet paper.

Gear up

Stock up on basic camping gear such as waterproof matches, hand-crank radios, external cellphone chargers, solar chargers and waterproof gadget cases.

Stay comfy

Pack clothes, pillows, inflatable mattresses, sleeping bags and anything else you’ll need to stay comfortable if you have to evacuate to a shelter. Old-fashioned entertainment like board games, playing cards and books may also help.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story attributed information to Brady Smith at the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. Smith left the council in 2018. The information was obtained that year.

2019 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at

PREPARE YOUR STUFF: Get your documents and your data ready for a storm

BUILD YOUR KIT: The stuff you’ll need to stay safe — and comfortable — for the storm

PROTECT YOUR PETS: Your pets can’t get ready for a storm. That’s your job.

NEED TO KNOW: Click here to find your evacuation zone and shelter

What Michael taught the Panhandle and Tampa Bay

What the Panhandle’s top emergency officials learned from Michael

‘We’re not going to give up.’ What a school superintendent learned from Michael.

What Tampa Bay school leaders fear most from a storm

Tampa Bay’s top cops fear for those who stay behind

Hurricane kit suggestions

Air horn to call for help

Assorted batteries, including for hearing aids

Bleach to clean up mold


Fix-a-Flat for tires and similar products. Storm debris could shred tires

Hand sanitizer; personal wipes

Long-handle squeegees for scraping mud out of a flooded home

Laundry detergent, bucket for washing clothes

Paper towels (better than sponges if there’s no water)

Portable air-conditioner that can be plugged into a generator

Portable camping stove

Portable power banks for smartphones and tablets

Powerful flashlight, laser pointer to attract help in the dark (aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a federal crime)

Rain poncho

Rags, sponges, mops for cleanup

Several pairs of dry socks and back-up shoes

Spare contacts and eyeglasses (also eyedrops)

Spare keys

Spray paint to paint address, insurance carrier on house

Sunscreen, lip balm, insect repellent

Termite bait and ant poison

Toothbrushing pads (when water is in short supply)

Water purification tablets

Waterproof matches and lighter

Work gloves and rubber gloves