Hurricanes + Prep Work = Houstonians
Why should you organize a hurricane preparedness kit? Because two tropical systems could potentially hit Houston over the new week, which I’m sure is causing you to wonder (1) where did you put your hurricane preparedness kit? and (2) when did you last check the supplies? Am I right? OR you could be like me, recently transplanted back to Houston, wondering if I should create a hurricane preparedness kit.
After moving back to Houston, the months of June-November took on new meaning. Suddenly, I had to plan on the “what if” Houston gets hit by a hurricane, tropical depression, etc., causing me to lose power, be stranded at my home, not have cell service, run out of medications, or not have enough food or water.
Fun fact time! Did you know that the average hurricane season consists of 21 total storms (12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes)? Beautiful, amazing, just keeps surprising us, year 2020 has already gifted us 28 storms (14 tropical depressions, 12 tropical storms, and 2 hurricanes)! Oh, 2020, you continue to surpass all dire expectations, and we still have 101 more days until the end of hurricane season.
As an ode to the past 8 months, (aka, just in case the “end of the world trajectory that we know as 2020” continues), you should create or update a hurricane preparedness kit so you’re ready if one of these two storms (or the possible 20 more that may happen in 2020) hit the Houston area.
What is a Hurricane Preparedness Kit?
Essentially when Mother Nature decides to show us that she’s one tough lady and strands you in your home, possibly without power or cell service, while you quickly deplete the food and water supply. By creating a hurricane preparedness kit, you’ll have a basic emergency supply tote filled with items to help you survive the storm and anything that She throws your way
What Supplies Go into a Hurricane Preparedness Kit (as recommended by FEMA)?
- Basic tools
- Bungee cords
- Duct tape
- Wrench or pliers
- Zip ties
- Cash or travelers checks
- Covid-19 supplies (You know these aren’t in there yet!)
- Disinfecting wipes
- Face masks
- Hand sanitizer
- Hand soap
- Portable power bank
- Keep fully charged while you still have power
- Deck of cards, phase 10, Uno, etc.
- Puzzles or books
- Activities you can do if you lose power, your electronics lose a charge, or you lose cell service
- Feminine hygiene supplies
- First aid supplies
- Antibiotic ointment
- Bleach and a medicine dropper so you can create water disinfectant (8 drops of regular household bleach per gallon of water)
- Matches: place in a protective pouch so they remain dry
- Mosquito repellant
- Pain relievers
- Detailed first aid kit by the American Red Cross
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- Garbage bags
- NOAA weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries
- Check out this solar powered or hand crank powered radio with a USB charger and LED flashlight.
- Great for charging cell phones and other electronics, even if you lose power.
- Non-perishable food
- Minimum of 3 days and assume you may not have power
- Manual can opener + eating utensils + paper plates and cups
- Food staples that don’t require refrigeration or cooking:
- canned goods (fruits, veggies, juice, pasta, beans soups, meats)
- dry mixes or cereal
- peanut butter
- energy bars
- Buy the week of:
- fresh fruit (bananas, apples, oranges)
- Avoid spicy or hot foods as they cause you to drink more water
- Adjust refrigerator temperatures to the coldest settings to reduce the potential for food spoiling if the power is temporarily lost. (fda.gov)
- Pet supplies (can create a separate bin for pets)
- Food + water (3 days minimum)
- Leash + collar
- Medications (can be added the day before)
- Plastic sheeting
- Prescription glasses
- Toss in an old pair that you never wear
- Toilet paper + Paper towels
- Water for Drinking and Sanitation
- 1 gallon per person per day for a minimum of 3 days (minimum)
- Save water in the bathtubs and sinks for basic sanitation or dishwashing in case of power outage (but don’t drink it).
How do you Organize a Hurricane Preparedness Kit?
- Buy a bin to store everything.
- Buy the above supplies to place in your bin
- It’s recommended that you keep the above supplies in the bin year-round, and not run around the house, trying to find everything when a hurricane begins to form.
- If you need to replenish the kit, plan to go sooner, rather than later, as emergency supplies are the first to leave the store when a hurricane is forming in the Gulf.
- Contain the supplies you buy
- Mesh Clear Zipper Pouches from Amazon are great as you can zip it closed, it’s more heavy duty than a ziploc bag, and you can see what’s inside
- Add a label to the outside
- Painters tape and a sharpie works great if you don’t have a label maker
- Snacks (if you need to the space and have to throw the boxes)
- Whatever else you buy that is small enough that you’d need to contain it to find it more easily
- Place the bin inside your home
- Store in a cool, dry place
- Choose a place you’ll remember that’s easily and quickly accessible
- Be aware that inside is best as Houston summers are hot, which means garage temperatures could spoil the food faster as well as create chemical reactions with the stored plastic water bottles.
- Check the bin every year in May to ensure freshness of food, water, supplies, etc.
Additional Reading on Preparing for Hurricanes
We never know which direction a hurricane will travel or how long it will stay once it’s here. Living 50 (ish) miles from the coast requires us to take responsibility for the possibilities. Create a hurricane preparedness kit that you keep up-to-date in your home. Research what to do if you have to evacuate. Speak to family and friends and create an emergency plan. Creating a kit is just the first step. Take it further.
- National Weather Service: Hurricane Preparedness 2020
- Chubb: 10 Steps to Prepare for a Hurricane
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Hurricanes and Covid-19
- Space City Weather (weather forecasts without the hype): Friday Afternoon Update on the Tropics, Which are Just a Mess
- Status: Organized (for when you just don’t have the energy to create that emergency kit): 11 Tips to Create “Grit” Within Yourself