You never expected your week to start like this…brushing up on how to prepare for a hurricane.
Maybe you happened to check the weather on your computer or glanced at the latest updates on your phone. A hurricane whirling towards your location, the bullseye centered on YOUR town.
Regardless whether or not you live in a hurricane-prone area, severe storms usually catch you by surprise. Even when you get warned beforehand of their arrival, it’s usually a last-minute scramble securing food, supplies, and shelter for your family. Crowds of stressed people make your task even more difficult. Even if there are supplies remaining in stores, some companies begin rationing popular items, issuing restrictions on how many of these items a customer may purchase!
While we can’t predict the weather with 100% accuracy, there are several things you can do TODAY to be ready for the next severe storm. Get prepared now for hurricane season or other common natural disasters that may strike at any time. It all starts with learning how to prepare for a hurricane.
How to Prepare for a Hurricane – General Preparations
While this article focuses primarily on how to prepare for a hurricane, we should mention that these tips could also be applied to other natural disasters and emergency situations, as the essentials of life you require are the same for every kind of storm you could experience. Everyone needs food, water, shelter, and medicine, regardless of the emergency that’s happened.
First, determine whether you will evacuate or stay. There are several useful questions from our blogging friend that will help you make the most informed decisions possible here.
Next, once you’ve determined if you’re going or not, make necessary plans for evacuating, getting supplies, communicating with family members, and protecting your assets (house, documents, insurance, digital files, and more). This is one of the most important things you’ll do, something that SHOULD NOT be put off. The earlier you determine how to prepare for a hurricane, the more likely that you’re ready for last-minute weather changes.[i]
If you’re staying home, make sure you prepare a specific place to ride out the storm and protect yourself from flooding, heavy winds, and falling debris.[ii] Before the storm hits, catch up on dishes, laundry, and make sure everyone is at home to stay.[iii] Now is the time to determine what your family will do if you get separated later, including how you’ll let loved ones know when you’re okay.[iv]
Print out pictures of your family members, copy important documents, collect insurance papers, and write down (use paper, NOT a digital device) contact information you may need. Put essential documents in one container, so you can take it with you quickly without worrying if you’ve missed anything important.[v]
Now is also the chance for you to determine how you’ll receive emergency information. Consider getting a NOAA weather radio or downloading emergency or weather apps on your phone now, while you have plenty of battery power and WiFi/data access.[vi] Now is also a good time to brush up on the differences between different categories of hurricanes and other common terminology that weather forecasters and emergency crews use, such as the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning.[vii]
Outside your home, secure and maintain your roof, windows, trees, and other loose items that may become dangerous during heavy winds and rains. [viii] Also, don’t forget to prepare medicine, food, and shelter for your farm animals and pets too, considering how you’ll protect them from the elements.[ix]
Finally, in addition to preparing your family, home, and property, consider how you’ll prepare your workplace (especially if you own or operate an essential business that can’t close for bad weather). Make sure you have a plan of what everyone should and shouldn’t do if the hurricane hits, including how you’ll communicate in an emergency.[x]
Of course, one of the most damaging parts of a hurricane event isn’t the storm at all–it’s the aftermath. Before the storm even hits, whether you’re evacuating or not, consider how you’ll handle the aftermath of destructive winds, tornadoes, flooding, and other significant damage that may result in the loss of electricity, gas, transportation, and supply lines, as well as the creation of looting problems.[xi]
Overwhelmed by everything you have to prepare? We recommend finding or developing a checklist that you can quickly reference during every hurricane or storm, even while you’re stressed and can’t think straight on how to prepare for a hurricane. During the hurricane, you may event want to record what you SHOULD have prepared, so you can reference the list again in the future.
Here are some resources that might be helpful:
How to Prepare for a Hurricane – Food, Water, & Other Essentials
To survive any emergency situation, you’ll need food, water, and other essentials. Stock up before hurricane season if possible, or at least well before the storm actually hits. (A few days before the hurricane arrives, common items like bottled water may completely disappear from local stores, so don’t wait.)
One of the reasons we love Thrive Life food so much is that it doesn’t require refrigeration. While keeping it dry during extreme flooding may become difficult, it’s still a very easy way to feed your family while you’re on the road or riding out a storm at your home without any electricity. This food tastes delicious. Plus, even if you don’t end up needing it for a hurricane, you can always keep it on hand for the next emergency. Learn more about Thrive Life food here.
In general, you should stick with food that doesn’t require refrigeration. This means that in addition to purchasing or preserving shelf-stable items, you should prepare and preserve perishable items like meat while you still have power. (It will keep better canned or frozen than it will in your refrigerator, even if the power goes off.)[xii]
Most of the food you’ll keep in your home will fall into one of these categories: protein, fruits/vegetables, and grains.
Good food choices include canned fish, canned beans, peanut butter, apples, oranges, applesauce, canned vegetables, oats, crackers, and powdered milk, all of which store very well. Find out more at Healthy Foods to Stockpile for a Hurricane and Foods You Might Have Forgotten to Store.
While you’re preparing, also don’t forget important pantry items like honey, salt, baking soda, and vinegar. Not only to these items have multiple uses, but they also don’t spoil. Read more in this Emergency Food Storage List.
While your best choices are foods that don’t require electricity inputs for storage or preparation, you may still have a few items that require it. All isn’t lost. Before you prepare those things, understand what items can be stored at room temp, what items cannot, and why. In a pinch, you can keep food somewhat cool using evaporative cooling methods, root cellars, or even plain coolers with ice or dry ice. Read more in How to Keep Food Cool Off Grid & Without Electricity here.
Even if the power’s out and you can’t use your grill, you can still cook using a fireplace, camp stove, or solar oven.[xiii] We personally recommend the SunOven.
Oh, but don’t resort to processed food checklists while preparing for a hurricane! Instead, check out this Two Week Meal Plan for Disasters – With FREE Printable from My Homestead Life.
During natural disasters, regular water sources may become contaminated or difficult to obtain, so you need to prepare water for yourself and any animals you own, as well as for cleaning and cooking purposes. Generally, it’s recommended that you store one gallon of water per a person/pet per a day. But remember, if you’re in a hot climate, working outside cleaning up storm damage, or experiencing illness, you probably will need more. You’d rather have too much than not enough![xiv]
Struggling to calculate how much water you need? Use this free calculator.
You should store two different kinds of water: Water that’s clean and safe for consumption and water that’s not for consumption, but clean enough for basic hygiene needs.
For consumable water, purchase bottled water, freeze water in containers/bags, store water in storage containers, or can water in canning jars (which also reduces your plastic exposure). Don’t like the taste of stored water? Shake or pour it to reoxygenate the water, so it tastes fresher. To store non-consumable water, fill your washing machine, tub, sinks, and clean trashcans before the hurricane hits.[xv]
During a hurricane, you may find that you have ample water sources, but it just isn’t water that’s safe to drink. Purify this kind of water by using chlorination, distillation, or filtering.[xvi]
Finally, here’s another idea: One blogger turned OFF their water for 48 hours, just to learn how to live without running water. Read about what she learned here.
Medicine & Cleanliness
Before the storm hits, make sure you stockpile vitamins, pain relievers, natural antibiotics, and over-the-counter cold medicines. If you take a prescription medication, make a plan for it too.[xvii]
Also, ensure you’ve properly prepared supplies for family members with special needs, such as those who are elderly, disabled, very young, or those who have food allergies or other chronic conditions. These individuals may require special foods, so keep that in mind.[xviii]
And finally, don’t forget to purchase misc. household items you might need, including toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, diapers, wipes, toothbrushes, soaps, deodorants, trash bags, masks, cotton balls, and duct tape. They might not be essentials, but they certainly make life MUCH easier in an emergency! See these lists to help:
- List of Non-Food Items to Stockpile at Primal Survivor
- Non-Food Preparedness Items to Stockpile from SHTF Preparedness
- 9 Genius Hacks To Help You Prepare For A Hurricane from Little Things
Oh, and one more thing: In a pinch, such as when flooding renders your normal toilet useless, consider making some temporary accommodations, like this DIY portable toilet. You can thank us later! 😉
How to Prepare for a Hurricane – Gear
- Generator – Generators are one of the first things to go during emergencies, so check your generator if you already have one, so you can repair or get another if needed.[xix]
- Fuel, solar/crank chargers, and batteries for powering equipment like radios, phones, generators, and cars
- Flashlights, candles, lanterns, oil lamps, headlamps, and solar lights, so you can move around or look into dark spaces during rescue and cleanup operations.[xx]
- Chainsaws, tools, and building supplies for turning off utilities and cleaning up storm damage, securing homes, and clearing roads.[xxi]
- Radios and walkie talkies for communication and information distribution.
- Battery-powered fans to keep you cool when the power’s out and humidity’s rising.[xxii]
- Air horn, whistles, spray paint, and other supplies for signaling other people.[xxiii]
- Leather gloves, boots, and waders for navigating flooded or messy conditions.[xxiv]
- Entertainment items – You never know when you’re going to be sitting around and waiting in stressful silence, so don’t forget to gather some items that will keep kids (and adults) busy.[xxv]
- Firearms and methods of self-protection and self-defense. (Looting, anyone?)[xxvi]
How to Prepare for a Hurricane – Other Important Information
Not only should you prepare food, water, and gear, but you should also make sure you have the information you need. Check for important documents like birth certificates, insurance cards, social security numbers, and other personal effects. Collect financial information like insurance contact information and information for credit/debit cards and checking accounts. Withdraw some cash to have on hand. Make a hard copy of contact information for friends, family members, insurance companies, utility companies, etc. Also make sure you have maps and evacuation routes ready.
Finally, here are some additional resources for learning more about hurricane preparedness:
- 18 Common Hurricane Myths and Mistakes that Get People Killed (Primal Survivor)
- 20 Hurricane Survival Tips From Real-Life Scenarios (Ready Nutrition)
- 50 Survival Tips Harvey Has Taught Me (The Survival Mom)
- What It’s Really Like to Live Through a Hurricane (The Organic Prepper)
- What To Do If It’s TOO LATE and You Can’t Evacuate Before a Hurricane (The Organic Prepper)
- Prepping for a Hurricane on the Homestead (The Scott Terry Show)
- Storm Preparedness Category (Common Sense Home)
- Homestead Disaster Preparedness (Video of a homesteaders’ story of their experience with Hurricane Michael)
How to Prepare for a Hurricane – Conclusion
You can’t control the hurricane that’s coming, but you CAN control how you respond. Even if you don’t have a lot of extra time or resources to prepare, these resources will help you understand how to prepare for a hurricane, so you’re more prepared for that next storm.
And for those of you who have been through a hurricane before, what would you add to this post? Let us know in the comments below!
[xv] https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/no-water-now-what-27-tips-to-prepare-for-a-water-outage/view-all/, https://www.loavesanddishes.net/how-to-can-water-for-emergencies/, https://myhomesteadlife.com/2017/09/07/preparing-for-a-hurricane/, https://www.littlethings.com/hurricane-hacks/3