Hurricane season is typically somewhat predictable due to modern tools able to detect and track hurricanes. What is not usually predictable is how a hurricane will afflict a vulnerable area which is prone to these severe storms, not to mention these powerful storms can begin to shift paths. Unfortunately, hurricanes have strong potential to create a disaster in susceptible regions.
That being the case, as a preventative measure it is always a good idea to be prepared in case a hurricane hits hard and power is lost. A good emergency kit is a must for any area where any weather, atmospheric or other natural disaster conditions or risks exist.
Hurricane Isabel (Sept. 2003)
As June is typically considered to be the start of hurricane season, now is a good time to prepare. A few important items to add to a hurricane emergency kit should include:
Food and Water
Food and water is an essential necessity for an emergency kit. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends supplies for at least three to seven days in an emergency kit. For water it is advised to have stored at least one gallon per person for three to seven days. In terms of food you'll want to keep non-perishable packaged and canned foods, juices and other beverages that do not require refrigeration. Snacks and ready-to-eat foods are good to keep on hand too. Watch freshness dates to make sure your supply doesn't expire and become unable to be eaten. Many canned foods are good for a few years.
Don't forget complementary items needed such as a hand-held can opener, paper plates and plastic utensils. A means to cook is important as well. Grills or other non-electric ways to heat food should be cleaned and in working order prior to the storm.
Clothing, Blankets and Pillows
These items should be packaged and ready to keep on hand in case of emergency. There should be enough blankets and pillows for each family member. Clothing to set aside for each family member should include weather-appropriate gear which may be needed for either cold or warm weather. Additionally rain gear and sturdy shoes are good items to include.
Flashlights and Radio
These battery operated items are a necessity. Be sure and keep extra batteries on hand in case extensive use of flashlights or radio is needed.
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NOAA recommends keeping a fully charged mobile with an extra battery. Regular cellphones should be on hand, but it may not be a bad idea to keep a fully charged pay as you go phone in the kit in case there is no way to charge your own mobile and/or if there is no power for extended periods of time.
Additionally, an old-fashioned corded phone can prove to be important as a cordless telephone will be useless in the event of a long-term power outage, and this is a good backup to a mobile, in some instances cell towers may not be functioning properly. Although, these days the older-style phones are becoming less and less common as many phones now are linked to the computer.
Toiletries and Medications
Additionally, any toiletries and hygiene items needed are important items to add to an emergency kit. If you have medications which are absolutely necessary, remember to keep these in reach in case of emergency and/or an inability to refill a prescription right away. Also, keep eye on any expiration dates. One approach is to rotate your supply on a routine basis.
Prior to a hurricane's arrival, try and stash some cash to have in case of emergency. Having some credit cards on hand is another consideration, but if systems are down, local merchants may revert to cash only. Additionally, ATMs may not be working, leaving you unable to get cash. However, some businesses may be equipped to take credit information and run the charges through later once power is restored (I've personally done this when we had a long-term power outage at one of my jobs). Keep in mind, things are more computerized now, so businesses may not be willing or able to do this, so it is best to be prepared with some cash. In the cash put aside in case of emergency, it is important to include some small bills as businesses may not have ability to make change.
First Aid Kit
A basic first aid kit should also be included in a disaster hurricane kit. Also with this kit should be any over the counter or prescription medications that family members need.
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Safeguarding important and/or necessary items is also a good practice. NOAA recommends sealing all vital documents in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag. Drivers licenses, medical records, insurance information, bank account details, passports and social security cards are important documents.
Any specialized items you may need or desire should be included in your emergency kit. Tools, pet care items and even entertainment items (especially for kids!) should be considered. Setting aside a supply of books, toys and games to help children get through what may be extended periods of time without electricity or ability to play outside will help ease the burden of a disaster.
It is also important to remember during an impending storm to keep your keys with you and to also ensure all your vehicles are filled with gas. After the storm is over, fuel may be at a premium, especially if extended power loss persists and in demand to run generators, if cars are filled up prior to the hurricane, you're prepared.
Also when expectation of a hurricane is tracked to hit your region, always take care to secure your home, and have a family plan and pet plan as well. Being prepared will not eliminate a disastrous condition, however it can increase safety levels and help get your household through the crisis situation.