If you happen to live in an area with a hurricane risk, now is the time to consider what to stockpile for the next hurricane. There will always be a next, and you can never be sure that damage it will cause. All categories of hurricanes can cause damage to structures and power lines. The time to prepare isn’t the days leading up to landfall; it is the time before the hurricane even forms.
Bugging In vs. Bugging Out
The very first question you should ask yourself when faced with a hurricane is whether or not you should bug out. While some people might say the answer should be an immediate yes, the answer ultimately depends on where you live, the terrain around you and the hurricane coming your way.
For example, if we look at Hurricane Harvey, there are thousands of people who weren’t affected too much. Their homes were set up higher and weren’t at risk for flooding. You should also think back over the years. If you live in what they call a “100-year-flood-zone,” then chances are you will flood again during the next major hurricane.
Even if you live in an area that you assume will allow you to bug in, I suggest you keep a plan to bug out. Take a look at Hurricane Irma. At first, experts believed it would strike the east coast. Instead, Irma made landfall along the west coast. Hurricanes are unpredictable. You should have a plan to bug out if it looks like predictions will change against your favor.
Related: Hurricane Preparedness 101
24 Things to Stockpile for the Next Hurricane
- Water: As with almost any disaster, water should top your list of things to stockpile. While the area might be swimming in water, it isn’t safe to drink. Waterlines can break, leaving your house without tap water. You should have water on hand. The recommendation is one gallon per day per person. If you have a five-person household, you will need five gallons along with an extra gallon for each pet such as a dog. Most officials recommend having a three-day supply of water, but it isn’t possible to have too much water stored.
- Water Purifiers: Another great thing to have, especially if you are bugging out, is a way to purify water. You can pick water purification tablets or a purifying drinking straw. These should always be in your bug out bag!
- Flashlights with Extra Batteries: There is a good chance your power will go out, at least for a few days. However, we can see the extreme side of that if we look at the destruction in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria. Puerto Rico is facing weeks or months without power. It is a good idea to stockpile flashlights with a lot of extra batteries.
- A Generator: Don’t wait for a hurricane to be coming your way before you buy a generator. They sell like hotcakes and often at a higher price tag. A generator is perfect for the next hurricane or even at random times when the power goes out. If anything, having a generator allows you to keep your refrigerator and freezer running, so you don’t lose all of those perishable items.
- Fuel: Your generator doesn’t run on air and love. It needs fuel and lots of it. You have no way of knowing how long the power will be out, so stockpile as much fuel as you can safely. A stockpile of fuel also comes in handy if you decide to bug out. Gas stations will have long lines, and you will spend hours on the highway in traffic. Fuel will save you time.
- Battery Powered Radio: You can also find a solar powered radio. Either way, a radio connects you to the outside world and gives you updates about the current situation.
- Non-Perishable Food: Canned food is great if you plan to bug It won’t be that great of a choice if you plan to bug out. I would recommend having a selection of both. Here are some ideas.
- Canned soup
- Canned meat such as tuna, salmon, chicken or beef
- Canned vegetables
- Granola bars
- Oatmeal packets
- Powdered milk
- Protein bars and protein powder
- Peanut butter (and jelly)
- Applesauce and fruit cups (or cans)
- A Way to Cook Food: Once the power goes out, how do you plan to cook food? You could grill if your backyard isn’t flooding and it isn’t pouring rain. Another great choice is a propane grill. Most are small enough to fit right on a table top. You can pack them into your car since they fold. You need to bring along several small propane tanks as well. If you bug out, remember a few cooking utensils.
- Baby Supplies: You only have to think about this if you have a baby. You should have diapers on hand. While we use cloth diapers typically, disposable diapers could be an easier choice, especially for those bugging out. You also need feeding supplies, such as formula and bottles, if you don’t breastfeed. Keep a few outfits in a sealed Ziploc baggie as well. Babies must stay warm and dry.
- First Aid Kit: A first aid kit should always be on your list for disasters. You never know what you might encounter. While it is unlikely that you will be in the middle of the hurricane outside, you will be outside fixing up afterward. All it takes is for you to fall! So, have a heavily stocked first aid kit. The hospitals will be filled with people in need of medical attention.
- Medication: Medications go along with a first aid kit, but you should make sure you have extra of your prescription medications on hand. A stockpile should also include pain relievers, antihistamines, anti-diarrheal, and other important medications. When going to the store isn’t an option, you will be happy to have these on hand.
- Toiletries: You will still need to brush your teeth, wipe down your body and put on deodorant. It may be insane outside, but who wants to stink? Hygiene is important, especially during a disaster. You also want to make sure you have a lot of toilet paper, even if you decide to bug out!
- Insect Repellant: Hurricanes can bring out bugs afterward. The temperatures tend to be hot. All of the water creates moisture and humidity, the perfect recipe for bugs. Unless you enjoy bugs munching on you for dinner, invest in a bottle or two of insect repellant.
- Cleaning Supplies: Chances are your home will experience some level of damage. If not, you are in luck. However, you should keep cleaning supplies on hand. During a disaster, it is especially important to keep your area clean. Infections and bacteria spread rapidly. Remember to have a box or two of large, black trash bags to clean up wet materials.
- Rain Gear: If for whatever reason, you get caught in the rain, you will need some rain gear. It is a good idea to have a poncho or two for each family member, along with rain boots.
- Solar Phone Charger: Your cell phone also allows you to contact first responders if you need help. Cell phone batteries die quickly, so it is great if you have a phone charger battery and a solar phone charger on hand.
- Manual Can Opener: This is something you don’t want to forget! It would be horrible to have a stockpile of great canned goods, only to realize you can’t open them! Make sure you have a manual can opener (or three) on hand.
- Disposable Items: During and after a hurricane, the last thing you need to worry about is being environmentally friendly. You probably won’t have access to hot water, so keep a few things on hand. Remember, it is important to decrease bacteria.
- Paper or Styrofoam plates
- Styrofoam cups
- Plastic Flatware
- Paper towels
- Lighters and Matches: If you have a gas stove, you will need a lighter or match to ignite it. While candles are typically not recommended as a safe light source, you may opt to burn some tea lights because they are rather inexpensive. Lighters and matches are always a good idea to keep on hand!
- Tools and Supplies: More than likely, your house will face some damage. Along with the cleaning supplies listed above, you want to have some tools on hand. Ideally, you will have screws, screwdrivers (powered and manual), duct tape, plywood, tarps, nails, and hammers. A chainsaw and extra chains is a vital tool, especially if you have trees on your property. An ax allows you to escape from your house if necessary.
Related: Recovering from a Hurricane
- Things to Do: A hurricane can last for a day or two, depending on the severity. Then, if there is flooding in the area, you could be stuck inside even longer. If power is out, chances are you want some things to do, especially if you have kids. Keep a stock of magazines, books, board games, cards, puzzles, crafts, and handicrafts to stay entertained.
- Cash: Whether you bug in or out, you need cash on hand. Cash allows you to bug out easier. If you decide to bug out and power is out, stores may only accept cash for a few days until the power returns. It is also smart to have some cash on your body in a variety of bills.
- Blankets: Hurricanes hit when it is usually still warm outside. The presence of an abundance of water can make the temperature feel cooler. If you or a family member is wet, you need dry blankets to stay warm, especially kids and babies.
- Firearms: The last thing to add to your stockpile is a firearm and ammunition. While, in most circumstances, a hurricane won’t leave you stranded for weeks, we can’t predict the future. The unprepared can and eventually do come after those who are prepared. Having a firearm available makes everyone in your house feel a bit safer. Be sure to keep it far away from little hands.
You will want to keep your stockpiled items in a water-tight container, such as a five-gallon bucket with a lid. This step is very important if you live in a flood zone. The last thing you want to experience is all of your hard work being lost in a flood. Also, you should always have copies of all your important documents stored in an airtight bag as well! That step is vital. Ultimately, being prepared far ahead of an incoming hurricane will make your life easier when the warnings arrive.