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How to Stock Up for a Hurricane and a Pandemic

May 5, 2020

A pandemic and a hurricane? Yes, it could happen.

Imaging self-isolating at home, and being without power, running water, or access to food for days, if not weeks. It’s a reality we hope never materializes, but one we can’t be certain of. Therefore, attempting to stock up on everyday essentials now will make surviving a storm much easier, and it could possibly save your life.

The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season is only weeks away, and experts say it could be more active than normal. Like most of us recently, mitigation experts are adjusting to a new normal in how we prepare.

“This year, because of the coronavirus, we are focused on things we can do at home, items that are affordable, and tasks that are simple."

Leslie Chapman-Henderson is the CEO and founder of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH). She was a bit surprised to find out, based on a recent survey, that more people are taking preparation seriously.

“Seven percent more plan to prepare this year over last, likely because they know they might not be able to get what they need if they wait until the last minute,” she added.

Leslies also suggested to sign up for online notifications on items that may be out of stock.

According to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, emergency kits should hold at least seven days worth of food, water and clothing per person. If that seems out of reach for you now, starting with just three days worth can go a long way.

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

The supplies don’t all have to be purchased at once, unless you and everyone else wait until the last minute. And we all know how much stress that can cause. To help you formulate your own list, we’ve outlined things you might want to consider the next time you find yourself at the store or doing some online shopping.

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. M

You’ll also want to bring a copy of your pets’s 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.

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.

Toilet paper, paper towels, and sanitary wipes are often forgotten. Shelters may not always provide these essentials. Disinfectant soap, dry shampoo, face masks 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.

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.

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.

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.

Sources include nearest National Weather Service office, National Hurricane Center, and the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (@FloridaStorms).
Sources include nearby emergency management agencies, FEMA, and your local NPR affiliate. 
Sources include the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Highway Patrol and other nearby traffic information.

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PO Box 118405
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A service of WUFT at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications 

Partners of the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network include: Florida's Division of Emergency Management, WDNA (Miami), WFIT (Melbourne), WMFE (Orlando), WFSU (Tallahassee), WGCU (Fort Myers), WJCT (Jacksonville), WKGC (Panama City), WLRN (Miami), WMNF (Tampa-Sarasota), WQCS (Fort Pierce), WUFT (Gainesville-Ocala), WUSF (Tampa), WUWF (Pensacola) and Florida Public Media.

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