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Hurricane 2023: Checklists for building all kinds of storm kits

Don’t wait until a hurricane is headed this way to start building your kit.
 
A good hurricane kit is essential for Floridians during hurricane season.
A good hurricane kit is essential for Floridians during hurricane season. [ SCOTT KEELER | TAMPA BAY TIMES ]
Published May 26, 2023|Updated June 1, 2023

There are some items in a hurricane kit that may keep you alive after a storm: medications, food and water.

There are other items that will just make your life a little easier or more comfortable after a hurricane hits: a headlamp, for instance, or a battery-operated fan.

A good hurricane kit will have a combination of both the essentials and the handy. And you don’t want to wait until a storm is headed this way to get your kit together. Start working on it now.

You don’t have to do it all in a day. For instance, I don’t go out and buy 100 cans of soup and a dozen boxes of granola bars on the same day. I start in the spring and build it up over time, grabbing nonperishable food and bottles of water that are on sale every time I go to the grocery store. It also means I build up a variety.

Another thing about hurricane kits: They vary from one person or family to another. If you have kids, pets or older adults living with you, your kit will need to be adjusted.

As much as you want to focus on the essentials like food and water, plan to also stow items that will make life easier or more comfortable.

If your power is out and you don’t have a generator, it will be pitch black at night. Sure, a flashlight will do for finding your way around. But if you want to be able to do complex tasks after dark, having a headlamp will give you two free hands instead of one having to hold the flashlight.

And a battery-powered fan will give you just a little bit of comfort as Florida’s humid summer weather scorches all of us suddenly without air conditioning. Also, be sure you have a lot of backup batteries to keep that thing going.

But let’s get back to the basics for a bit.

Emergency officials say people should have seven days’ worth of nonperishable food and water per family member, including pets. That’s the length of time it could take for supplies to reach you after a bad hurricane. The standard rule is that each person will need at least 1 gallon of water per day. You also should keep at least 30 days’ worth of prescription medication on hand.

Beyond that, here are some checklists to help you prepare, no matter the situation.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management (www.floridadisaster.org), the Department of Homeland Security (www.dhs.gov), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (www.ready.gov/kit) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov/childrenindisasters/checklists/kids-and-families.html) also offer checklists.

Personal hurricane kit

Build a bag with everything you’ll need in a backpack or two if you have to evacuate.

  • Air horns or whistles, to call for help
  • Assorted batteries, including for hearing aids
  • Backpacks, sturdy and waterproof
  • Can opener (manual, never electric)
  • Cash (no power or cell service means no credit cards or mobile payments)
  • COVID-19 test kits
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Extra clothing and socks, including something warm in case it gets cold
  • First-aid kit
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Handheld lanterns
  • Headlamp and batteries
  • Identification, insurance cards, etc.
  • Insect repellent
  • NOAA Weather Radio, battery or hand-crank
  • Nonprescription medication (anti-diarrheal, pain relievers, etc.)
  • Pandemic masks
  • Pens and paper (don’t run down your phone battery by writing stuff down)
  • Personal wipes (antibacterial)
  • Phone charging cables, wall chargers
  • Portable power banks for smartphones and tablets
  • Rain jacket and pants/poncho
  • Rubber boots
  • Safety work gloves
  • Spare contacts and eyeglasses (also eyedrops)
  • Spare keys to homes, businesses and vehicles
  • Sturdy boots or shoes (and a backup pair)
  • Sunscreen, lip balm
  • Sleeping bags
  • Toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss
  • Water purification tablets
  • Waterproof folders, for documents and photos
  • Waterproof matches, lighter

Home hurricane kit

If you lose power after a storm, if your home or neighborhood gets hit hard or if help is unable to reach you for a while, this gear will make your wait at home more tolerable.

  • Bleach (to clean up mold)
  • Carbon monoxide detector, battery-powered (for gas-powered generators)
  • Can opener (manual, never electric)
  • COVID-19 test kits
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Duct tape
  • Extra water (fill bathtubs for flushing)
  • Hand soap
  • Fan, battery-operated
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First-aid kit
  • Garbage bags, plastic sheeting (for garbage and covering broken windows)
  • Insect repellent
  • Long-handle squeegees for scraping mud out of a flooded home
  • Laser pointer, to attract help in the dark (aiming one at an aircraft is a crime)
  • Laundry detergent, bucket for washing clothes
  • NOAA Weather Radio, battery or hand-crank
  • Pandemic masks
  • Paper cups, plates, plastic utensils
  • Paper towels (better than sponges if there’s no water)
  • Personal wipes (antibacterial)
  • Portable air conditioner that can run off a generator
  • Portable camping stove
  • Portable generator (never operate one indoors or near a door or window; beware of carbon monoxide poisoning)
  • Portable power banks for smartphones and tablets
  • Powerful flashlight
  • Rags, sponges and mops for cleanup
  • Safety work gloves
  • Spray paint (to paint address, insurance carrier on house)
  • Surge protectors or power strips
  • Tarps (for damaged roofs, walls and windows)
  • Termite bait and ant poison
  • Toilet paper
  • Tool kit
  • Toothbrushing pads (when water is in short supply)
  • Wrench or pliers, to turn utilities on and off

Vehicle hurricane kit

In an emergency, your vehicle may be the safest place you can stay after a storm.

  • Car shovel/pick
  • Cash (tow trucks and repair shops may not take electronic payment)
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Duct tape
  • Emergency blankets
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First-aid kit
  • Fuse kit
  • Garbage bags, plastic sheeting (for garbage and covering broken windows)
  • Jumper cables
  • Maps, map books, gazetteer (physical, not digital; must be up to date)
  • Multitool
  • Personal wipes (antibacterial)
  • Phone cables
  • Pocket knife
  • Portable air compressor
  • Portable jump starter
  • Power inverter, for charging devices
  • Safety work gloves
  • Spare tire (that actually works)
  • Tire jack
  • Tire sealant, puncture repair kit
  • Vehicle registration, proof of insurance
  • Water repellant
  • Wipes

Children’s hurricane kit

Children need a hurricane kit, too. If you’re breastfeeding, experts say to keep a week’s worth of powdered formula on hand, just in case.

  • Baby food
  • Baby wipes
  • Blankets, pillows
  • Books, games, playing cards, puzzles (do not rely on electronic devices to entertain children)
  • Child’s insurance ID
  • Clean bottles
  • Diapers
  • Drawing paper, crayons, markers, pens
  • Dry, extra clothing and underwear
  • Formula
  • Kid-friendly canned goods
  • Medical alert bracelet (if needed)
  • Nonprescription medication (anti-diarrheal, pain relievers, etc.)
  • Personal wipes (antibacterial)
  • Sturdy shoes, rubber boots
  • Toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss
  • Toys (that can be damaged or lost)

Pet hurricane kit

Getting your pet microchipped will help ensure you’ll be reunited with Fido or Kitty if you’re separated. Keep your microchip contact information up to date. Make sure your pet also is wearing a tag with your current contact information. Some shelters accept pets, but you’ll still need to pack their gear. The CDC has a pet emergency kit checklist at cdc.gov/cpr/readywrigley/documents/pet_emergency_kit_checklist.pdf.

  • Blanket
  • Cat litter, newspaper, even paper towels
  • Crate or sturdy carrier
  • Disposable litter trays for cats
  • Disposable bags for pet cleanup
  • Extra collar with updated pet tag, contact information
  • Extra leashes
  • Medications (30-day supply)
  • Medical records
  • Muzzle
  • Pet first-aid kit
  • Pet food (seven-day supply)
  • Pet microchip (keep updated)
  • Pet toys
  • Pet wipes
  • Portable food and water bowls
  • Puppy pads
  • Recent photos of pets (in case you’re separated)
  • Service animal supplies
  • Treats

First-aid kit

You can buy a first-aid kit or build one yourself.

  • Allergy medication
  • Aloe
  • Antacid
  • Anti-diarrheal medication
  • Antihistamine cream
  • Antiseptic agent
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Aspirin, pain-relievers
  • Burn relief spray
  • Cotton balls/swabs
  • Eyewash
  • First-aid manual
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
  • Instant cold compress
  • Latex gloves
  • Laxative
  • Moistened towelettes
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Safety pins
  • Sewing needle
  • Scissors
  • Soap
  • Splint
  • Sterile adhesive bandages (all sizes)
  • Sterile gauze pads
  • Sunscreen
  • Triangular bandages
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers

• • •

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