We’ll cut to the chase—there aren’t a lot of positive things to think about when it comes to preparing for a hurricane. But one good thing about a hurricane is that you have some time to get prepared before it hits. Weather forecasters start tracking hurricanes long before they ever get near land—which gives you time to make your plans and be sure your hurricane kit is ready to roll. Waiting until the last minute is stressful and filled with anxiety—so don’t do that. Here’s how to rock your hurricane preparedness checklist like—well—a hurricane.
What Is a Hurricane Preparedness Checklist?
This is a list that covers everything you need to be prepared for when a hurricane is headed your way. You should go over your hurricane preparedness checklist every year before hurricane season begins—that’s June 1 through November 30, folks. So, when the kids are about to be on summer break, remember to take a look at your hurricane preparedness checklist.
What Should Be on Your Hurricane Preparedness Checklist?
Making a list and checking it twice isn’t just for Christmastime—it’s for hurricane season too. Here’s everything that should be on your hurricane preparedness checklist:
1. Make a Hurricane Kit
This is a great thing to have on hand and something that you can put together long before a storm is on the way. Like we mentioned before, when you’re giving your hurricane preparedness checklist the once-over each year, make sure all the items in your hurricane kit are good to go too. You might have to refresh a few things like food and batteries, but some things like blankets and flashlights (minus the batteries) should be all set.
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Here’s what should be in your hurricane kit:
3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home
Clean water can be hard to come by in a disaster—and no one wants to drink dirty water (yuck!). So instead of having to boil water before you drink it (yep, that’s a thing), go ahead and keep bottles of water on hand with your hurricane kit. You can never have enough water, really. And if you end up not using all of the water, you can always give it away to another family who wasn’t as prepared as you. How awesome would it be to bless someone else like that?
3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home
If you need a refresher on what nonperishable means, we’re just talking about food that has a long shelf life and doesn’t need to be kept cold in the fridge. So, what should you buy? Glad you asked. Here’s some food you should stock up on:
When you’re in a bind, the old standby (and kid favorite) PB&J can go a long way to feed your family. Keep jars of peanut butter, jelly and loaves of bread on hand (okay, we know bread is perishable—but you should get a solid week out of it). Buy things like crackers, granola bars, popcorn, protein bars and any other snacks you (or the kids) like. Canned food is always a good staple to have around—try canned tuna and canned chicken for protein-packed dinners. And if you’re coffee obsessed, don’t forget the instant coffee.
You’ve got to prepare as if the power will go out—because it probably will at some point. And the more supplies you have on hand, the longer you’ll be taken care of. These are some of the emergency supplies ready.gov says you should have handy in your hurricane preparedness kit (plus we threw in a few ideas too):1
- NOAA Weather Radio (or any battery-powered radio will do)
- First-aid kit
- Can opener
- Dust mask
- Physical copies of maps
- Wrench or pliers (to turn off your utilities)
- Moist towelettes, trash bags and plastic ties (for sanitation)
- Hand sanitizer
- Medications (seven-day supply on hand)
- Swiss Army knife (or any kind of multipurpose tool like that)
- Toilet paper and personal hygiene items (toothbrushes, deodorant, etc.)
- Gas can filled with gas
- Cash (ATMs might be out of order, and debit card readers might not be working)
2. Have an Evacuation Plan
Will you or won’t you leave the area? As the storm gets closer, you need to decide if you’ll get out of Dodge or batten down the hatches to wait it out. Whatever you do, make a plan long before the storm hits.
Make your decision early.
We know, no one wants to be forced to decide whether they should stay in their home or evacuate. But whatever you do—don’t wait until the last minute to make a decision. First of all, you want to make an informed decision—not a panicked one. And you’ll be more likely to do that if you have a clear head and all the information up front.
And second, you don’t want to get caught traveling on the road when the storm hits. That’s not fair to you, your family or the emergency responders who will have to come help bail you out.
Keep a full tank of gas in the car.
Again—you shouldn’t wait until the last minute to leave. But if something happens and you need to get out fast, you won’t have to worry if you have a full tank of gas in the car. You can hit the road and make tracks, putting more distance between you and danger. Plus, gas stations might be closed during a power outage or they could run out of gas altogether once people start evacuating. So just keep the car fueled up and take one more worry off of your plate.
Know which roads to take.
Some of this will really depend on when you leave (hint: do it before the storm hits) and what roads are open. If you know roads on your usual drive tend to flood, then steer clear of them. You might want to take highways with multiple lanes so there’s less of a chance of traffic backing up too. (Remember when Jeff Goldblum was trying to get out of New York City in Independence Day? Yeah . . . don’t be him).
On the flip side, super popular routes (like highways and main roads) could get in a jam too. So your best bet might be backroads.
The moral of the story here? Look at the traffic patterns and pay attention to what your GPS says. And can we say it just one more time? Don’t wait until the last minute to leave town.
Know where you’ll stay.
Do you have friends or family who live away from the storm’s path who will let you crash with them? Take advantage of their offer to wait out the storm. If you’d rather stay in the area (but in a safer place than your house), check with local hurricane shelters setting up in your community.
If neither of those options work out, then you might have to travel to a hotel away from the storm. But be prepared—prices might be higher and empty rooms harder to come by. If you need to use your emergency fund to help you and your family have a roof over your head for a few days—do it. But try to stay with others first before you dip into your savings.
3. Charge Cell Phones and Tablets
No, this isn’t so your kid can play Lego games on their iPad (although, no judgment if that’s your way of keeping them happy during a storm). The real reason you want everyone’s devices charged up is so that you’re set if the power goes out.
Sure, you can always charge your phones in the car (if you have a car charger), but don’t rely on that. You want these devices full of juice so you can stay up to date with the weather in your area and be able to get in touch with someone if you need help.
4. Get Your Important Documents Ready
All right, let’s just call out that this is going to be the not-so-fun part (wait—has any of this been fun?). This is the part where you need to make sure you have all your important documents with you (if you’re evacuating) or stored in a safe, waterproof spot (if you’re staying put). We’re talking about your will, Social Security cards, marriage certificate, birth certificates, mortgage documents, passports, medical documents, homeowners insurance or renters insurance, and any other documents that are important to you.
Get Prepared Before the Storm
There’s a lot you can do to get yourself and your family prepared before the storm hits. If there’s just one thing you take away from everything we just threw at you, let it be this—don’t wait until the last minute to prepare. And if you live in an area that gets a lot of hurricanes, it might be worth it to invest in hurricane insurance.
At the very least, make sure your homeowners insurance is up to date. Leave it to the pros to handle things for you there. Our trusted insurance pros will take care of you every step of the way and can answer your hurricane questions. Now, what are you waiting for? Go get started on that hurricane preparedness checklist so you have peace of mind all hurricane season long.