Hurricanes and other weather related emergencies cause stress and worry, often resulting in disorganized emergency preparation. This emergency preparedness checklist comes from “boots on the ground” hurricane survivors.
While some of these emergency supplies will carry you through the storm, a bigger concern is often the time after a hurricane or natural disaster. When the power’s out. When the gas stations are out of fuel. If the supermarket shelves are bare and supply trucks and barges can’t get through.
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Having an emergency preparedness checklist can help you make sure you’ve covered all the possible scenarios.
- Make emergency plans with your family. If you’re not all together for the storm, where should you go? How will you connect after the storm?
- Determine evacuation routes and know the location of local shelters. Consider how your route will need to vary if flooding occurs.
- Have an emergency kit or “bug out bag” ready in case you need to evacuate.
Emergency preparedness checklist
Water: One gallon per person per day. This includes water used for hygiene purposes. Fill recycled bottles, canning jars, or water coolers with water from the tap while it’s still flowing. There’s no need to buy water bottles if you’ve got a sufficient number of water vessels to fill. Fill the bathtub, top-load washer, and five gallon buckets with water to use for flushing the toilet and personal hygiene.
Ice: If you have room in your freezer, pack it with recycled bottles and freezer containers full of water. This will help keep items cold for longer, plus once thawed, you’ll have more potable water to drink.
Food: Have a two-week supply of non-perishable food items on hand. Ready-to-eat options like canned meats, beans, soup, and fruit make sense. Peanut butter, nuts, dried fruit, granola bars, and granola are good options, too. In case of long-term power outages, it’s a good idea to have some dry bulk foods on hand as well. (You’ll need water to prepare these.)
Can opener: A hand-operated can opener is imperative.
Plans for cooking food: You should have plenty of ready-to-eat food on hand, but a warm meal (even if it’s canned chili) will be appreciated and add a sense of normalcy to a tough situation. This could be a propane stove, a barbecue, or a DIY rocket stove.
Coffee: If you count on your morning cup as much as I do, make sure you have a way to prepare coffee without electricity! Your drip machine is not going to work.
Important documents: Passports, insurance papers, medical information, deeds, etc.
Contact information: Write down contact information for family; our phones’ address book has made the need to remember numbers obsolete. If you run out of charge, you’ll need to know how to reach people.
Light: A solar lantern will provide light at night, without the need for batteries. A headlamp is good for hands-free after-hour chores.
Zip top bags: Yes, I like to avoid unnecessary plastic, but add these to your emergency preparedness checklist. (I have to hide them, otherwise my husband will fall back on old lunch-packing habits!) Use these to waterproof devices or important papers. It’s a good idea to double or triple layer the weather protection; a single layer might leak.
Batteries: Take stock of the emergency equipment you have and make sure you have batteries to keep those running.
Cash: Have cash on hand in small denominations. Stores may not be prepared to make change, and the ATM won’t work if the power is out.
Fuel: Fill up your vehicles, as well as any gas cans you have. You’ll be able to get around if the roads are clear, plus that fuel will keep chainsaws running so you can remove downed limbs.
Sandbags: If you live in a flood-prone area, you may need to try to keep water at bay.
Health and hygiene
Portable toilet: A 5-gallon bucket lined with a trash bag will do in a pinch.
Hygiene products: Wet wipes are a boon to keeping things clean when water is limited. You’ll also want to have toilet paper on hand, though emergency situations are a good time to consider educating yourself about family cloth. Include feminine hygiene products and birth control, too.
Medications: If you or any of your family members take medication, be sure to have a two-week supply on hand.
Mosquito repellent: Standing water after a storm will increase the mosquito population if the weather is warm. If your home is damaged, you might not be able to keep them out. Mosquito repellent will help keep them at bay.
First Aid: A simple first aid kit with bandages and aspirin is mandatory. A more fully-equipped first aid kid is preferable.
Emergency preparedness checklist for children
Diapers: If you use disposable diapers on your babe, you’ll want to pick up at least a few extra packages. You should also think about getting some diaper pins. If you run out of disposables, you’ll need a way to secure makeshift cloth diapers in place. (Old kitchen towels and t-shirts can be pressed into service as cloth “diapers” as long as you’ve got pins to secure them.)
Diaper liners: These allow you to lift away and flush big messes, leaving you with a diaper that’s easier to clean without using a lot of precious water.
Baby food: Stock up on potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples, and carrots. These items will keep for weeks (or months) without refrigeration and can be easily transformed into “baby food.” Simply peel and cook until they’re very soft, then mash with a fork.
Entertainment: Kids will be antsy, both during the storm and in the days after. Gather some favorite books and games along with a simple deck of cards to keep them occupied.
Bug out bag for babies: If you need to leave home, having a ready-packed bag will help you do so quickly.
Emergency plans for your pets and livestock
Food: Just as with humans, make sure you have a two-week supply of food on hand for your animals.
Pet carriers: Animals get scared in storms. Have a way to contain them safely for evacuation or to prevent them from bolting.
Medications: If your pets require medication, be sure to have a two-week supply on hand.
Bug out bag for pets: Gather together what you need for your four-legged family members so you can leave in a hurry if need be.
Emergency preparedness checklist: Gear and equipment to keep on hand
Shelter: A tent and sleeping bag will come in handy if your home becomes too damaged to safely remain.
Tarps: To protect damaged roofs or provide protection from the weather.
Rope: To secure tarps and other items that may come loose in high winds.
Tools: Hammers, screwdrivers, nails, screws.
Chainsaw and fuel: Roads can be blocked by downed trees. If you’ve got a functional chain saw, you can help clear the way instead of waiting for the road crew to show up.
Power pack: An extra power pack will help keep your devices running for an extended period of time.
Radio: Opt for a solar, battery, or wind-up option to stay in the loop when the power is out.
Generator: Not an essential, but you’ll be extremely happy to have it if you’re without power for more than a few days. Do not run generators inside as this can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.