As I type this, Tropical storm Dorian is headed towards Florida and deciding whether it is going to become a full-blown hurricane.
Like most Floridians, I am going about my day-to-day activities without too much concern about the impending storm. Sure, it gives me some “big news” to check on throughout the day, bu,t at this point, Dorian does not appear to be “a big one.”
The beauty of hurricanes is that we can see them coming from a long ways off. The downside is that we’ve had so many false alerts throughout the years that it is easy to take them for granted. Procrastination is a genuine problem.
After all, who wants to install $400 on plywood for the windows, only to have to take it down again. Golly, that’s a quality afternoon of fishing, wasted.
The trick is building a hurricane box. Just like my camping box and my fishing supplies, my hurricane box is a one-stop box for making sure the family is ready for a hurricane.
Here are some of my favorite items to include for hurricane preparedness.
There are items that we use up between hurricanes or that don’t keep well. For these items, I have a shopping checklist to make it easy to remember what to buy. This is also a good reason to ensure you have a good savings account because you never really know exactly when disaster might strike.
Bottled water is always at the top of the list. Grab a couple of cases of bottled water at the first hint of a tropical storm. It’s one of those items that we’ll always use, no matter what happens.
Food supplies need to be replenished with easy-to-eat items that don’t need cooking as well as easy to cook items such as canned soup.
Batteries are another essential that we buy plenty of, as well as any other consumable item that may be in low supply.
Collapsible Water Jugs
We also keep several collapsible water jugs on hand that we fill up at our sink. It is possible to drink out of these jugs, but we also use these for things like hand washing and cooking.
You’ll want one gallon of drinking water a day per person in the house.
One of the most re-assuring investments we made was in our jet boiler setup. This little camping unit works well on our kitchen floor.
Granted, you want to be super-careful with these heat sources whenever you are cooking inside as the gasses are not healthy to breathe. (In addition to the flammability hazard).
However, you typically only use it for ten to fifteen minutes at a time, so it does not seem to cause any issues.
Having a warm meal in the middle of a storm — even if it is only macaroni and cheese — does a lot for the morale.
Flashlights are a non-negotiable item. One of the key things to keep in mind as you shop for flashlights is that you don’t want to emphasize rechargeable lights.
Rechargeable lights are great for every-day use, but when you have been without power for a week, you’ll be glad that you have plenty of replacement batteries.
Candles make an ideal light source for those endless nights without power. With a few strategically placed candles, you won’t need as many batteries for your flashlight.
Make sure you have several non-scented emergency candles and that your lighters are in good working order.
If things go badly, you’ll want a way to notify rescue teams of your presence. We’ve never needed to use them, but there is a flare gun with two additional roadside flares in the box. There is also a flare holder that we made out of PVC pipe so that we can hang them out the upper floor window if we needed to.
This is one of those items that are easy to overlook, but when your electric can opener goes out, and you are looking at five cans of soup, you’ll be glad that you have it in the box.
The combination of floodwaters along with no good way to wash your hands means that the risks of disease go up. Having a big bottle of waterless hand cleaner around will help your family stay safe and healthy.
Cordless Reciprocating Saw
If things were truly bad and you needed to cut downed branches, a cordless reciprocating saw could give you a fighting chance. Granted, a chain saw would be better, but a reciprocating saw is surprisingly effective for getting all but the largest branches moved.
On our checklist is a reminder to recharge the batteries for a cordless drill and reciprocating saw.
If you don’t have hurricane shutters, then plywood is an affordable alternative. For most of our windows, we were able to cut the plywood into smaller pieces.
Then we drilled two large holes in the top and have two screws permanently attached to the top of each window.
This makes it possible for one person to hang the plywood easily in place while they add a few more screws.
After the storm, the plywood goes back into storage in anticipation of the next time it is needed.
Your cell phone is going to be your only contact with the outside world (provided that the cellphone towers stay up).
You will want several backup battery packs for your phones. If you can get a battery pack with 20,000 mAH of power, that should provide you with a couple of day’s worth of power. Two or three of these packs will help ensure you stay connected.
Day To Day Supplies
So much of what needs to be on the checklist is your day-to-day supplies like diapers and food. However, making sure that your tools are fully charged and that you have plenty of lighting power and a way to contact the outside world, will do a lot to help with your peace of mind.