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Hurricane Season: Supplies to Stock in Advance of a Storm

The beginning of the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season is just a few weeks away and, according to several forecasting agencies, a very active season is expected. While the science of meteorology has not yet evolved to tell us exactly how many storms will impact land, history tells us that the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Coast will likely incur some impacts from a tropical storm or storms during the coming months.

As previous storms and the global COVID-19 pandemic have taught us, anticipation and preparation for such events can lessen the extremity of their impact. Therefore, before a tropical system threatens your area, we encourage you to take inventory of your household, and create both shelter-in-place and evacuation plans for your family.

In the paragraphs below, you’ll find suggestions for supplies you’ll need should you have to ride out a hurricane in your home, or re-locate to a shelter. Do note that these lists are not all inclusive—each family is unique and has specific needs-- but they should get you well on your way to being prepared for a natural disaster.

If you’re in a hurry, we’ve provided a few ready-made lists from our various partners below.

Food and Water
Water and non-perishable food items should be essential to any emergency kit. Make sure that there is one gallon per person per day of water, for a total of at least 7 days. Avoid stocking up on fresh food items, such as vegetables, fruits and meats. Instead, stock up on non-perishable items such as canned soups, dried fruits and vegetables, bread, crackers, cereal, and protein pouches. Additionally, do not forget to buy a hand-operated can opener. And finally, don’t forget the supplies for your infants, including boxed or powdered milk, baby formula, and diapers.

You will need to plan for your pets just as you would humans. Be aware that many evacuation shelter do not accept animals, so preparing a safe place for them ahead of the storm is vital. Check with your local veterinarian on shelters that will keep your animals safe during and after the storm, until you can safely return to retrieve them.

If you shelter in place with your pet, or will be staying at a pet-friendly shelter, you’ll need to have an emergency kit to fit their needs. Similar to humans, your pet will need a gallon of water per day, enough food, and any medications needed for up to 2 weeks. Pack up their water and food bowls along with paper pads for your dogs and litter boxes for your cats.

You’ll also want to bring a copy of your pets’ documentation, which includes their vaccine information, phone number and location of their veterinarian, ownership documentation, and ID tags. You will need these items for when you bring them to a shelter and when you return to retrieve them.

Articles of Clothing
If you are sheltering in place, you’ll need to have clothing that will keep you dry and comfortable. It is usually very warm after a hurricane departs. Be sure to have one full change of clothes, protective rain gear, and sturdy waterproof shoes.
Consider the types of clothing you will pack when ordered to evacuate. You may not be able to return to your home for days or even weeks after a hurricane. Make sure that you and your family each have clean clothes for up to a week after the storm has passed. Bring items that will keep you comfortable at night, including blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows.

Medical Supplies
Toilet paper, paper towels, and sanitary wipes are often forgotten. Shelters may not always provide these essentials. Disinfectant soap, dry shampoo, and basic hygienic products are also good ideas to keep clean and healthy, especially with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, remember to call your doctor and pharmacy ahead of the storm to acquire essential medication. Make sure you have enough medication to last through the event and in the weeks after. This includes insulin, inhalers, epi-pens, and other vital medications. Have a medical kit on hand which includes bandages, disinfectant, instant cold packs, face masks, aspirin, and ibuprofen.

Household Items
If you ride the storm out at home, you may need to perform some basic repairs to keep your space dry and safe. A basic tool kit which includes a hammer, nails and screws, a saw, wrench, tarp, and screwdriver is recommended. These tools will also come in handy if you need to manually turn off utilities, like gas or water pipes, that may be damaged.
Flashlights, battery operated radios, power banks, and spare batteries are essential to keep devices running. Communication and cell phone towers may be down from the storm. Having a battery operated radio may be the fastest way to receive information in the coming days after the storm.

Important Documentation
In addition to paper copies, save virtual copies of important documents onto a USB memory stick, in addition to your cloud drive, and place it securely in the kit. Make sure you pack personal identification cards, including copies of your driver’s license, passport, social security, state issued ID and birth certificates, to name a few.
Copies of insurance information should also be taken with you if you are evacuating, such as health and dental, home, renters, life, automobile, and flood policies.
Emergency personnel will often not allow you to return to your neighborhood after the storm if you do not provide documentation, including a housing deed, lease and mortgage information.

Make copies of your banking information and any legal documents which may include, but are not limited to: wills, power of attorney, marriage and divorce certificates, adoption papers, and custody documents.

In the days following the passage of the hurricane, ATM machines and banks will likely be closed. Make sure you bring enough cash with you to buy essential supplies after the storm. Gas pumps will likely be shut down stranding many residents on roadways. Fill up your tank before the storm arrives.
Finally, write out a list of family and emergency contact information which can include phone numbers, emails and addresses. Do not depend on technology alone to store contact information. Power may be out for days or weeks after the event.
Miscellaneous Items

As you ride out the storm in your home or in a shelter, you will have a good deal of time on your hands. To alleviate boredom, stress, and anxiety, you’ll want to have ways to distract you and your family. Pack a few toys, board games, crayons, and books to help relieve the pressure of the situation. Do not rely on video games or electronic entertainment as power is likely to go out.

Hurricane season officially begins June 1 and lasts through November 30. The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)has a newly designed website with many great resources for continuing your storm season preparations. You can also find helpful information in the Florida Storms app under the “Get Ready” section.