Natural disasters are bound to occur from time to time—that’s just a reality of the world we live in. We can’t stop them, but we can try to be prepared for their imminent arrival.
As Hurricane Matthew approaches the coast of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, residents have been urged to evacuate. But if you’re unable to leave home, you can prepare for the storm by stocking up on necessary items. In fact, regardless of where you live, it’s probably a good idea to develop a basic disaster kit—just in case.
Here’s what you need to weather the storm:
You’ll want to stockpile a supply of nonperishable food—enough to last at least three days per person. Make sure it’s food you don’t mind eating, and make sure that it doesn’t require cooking. You should have a manual can opener on hand for canned goods, and you may want to acquire a camp stove (and fuel) so that you have the option to cook if the power goes out.
It may seem like overkill when there’s plenty of rainwater pouring from the sky, but you’re still going to want a supply of water that’s safe to drink and use for sanitation purposes. The recommended amount is at least a gallon of water per day for each person in your household, and you should prepare at least a three day’s supply. And make sure the water is stored in unbreakable bottles—you never know what might happen.
3. Flashlight with extra batteries
It’s always good to have a flashlight on hand when you’re anticipating a power outage. Check to confirm that yours is in good working condition, and that you have extra batteries on hand.
4. First aid kit and medication
A first-aid kit is always a good idea, but it’s especially important during a hurricane. You’ll want bandages, antibiotic ointment, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, and basic over-the-counter meds like Aspirin, Tylenol, Benadryl, and Imodium.
Additionally, be sure you have enough of your regular prescription meds to last at least a week. You may also want paper copies of your prescriptions on hand to be extra-safe.
5. Toilet paper
Necessary. Enough said. It’s never a good time to run out of TP.
6. Tool kit
Whether you need a wrench to turn off utilities or a hammer and nails to cover windows with boards or tarps, you never know when a tool kit might come in handy. Have a basic one at home to cover all your bases.
7. Phone and external battery pack
If you retain cell reception but lose power, an external battery pack can be a godsend when your phone needs charging.
8. Hand-crank or battery-powered radio
A weather radio is preferable. You’ll want to stay informed as to what’s going on around you while you’re holed up for the duration of the storm. If your radio is battery-powered, ensure you have extra batteries.
9. Portable generator
If living without electricity for the extent of the storm sounds completely unappealing, a small portable generator is a solid solution.
10. Distress whistle
Go ahead and hope for the best, but it’s good practice to plan for the worst. That’s why we’d suggest getting a hold of a distress whistle, so that you can call for help if you need it.
11. Extra gas
If you have a car, you’ll want to fill up the tank in advance of an emergency. You should stay inside and off the roads during the storm, but that full tank could get you out of a bad situation if things take an unexpected turn.
12. Important documents
Gather your important documents in one place and make sure you know where they are. If you have to evacuate or rebuild after the storm, you’ll need identification, prescriptions, and important forms that document things like insurance and warranties.
13. Extra cash
Always a good idea, but especially during a hurricane.
14. Local maps
If you’re not able to access Google Maps and need to leave the house, you’ll want a good old-fashioned map. Remember, usual roads may be blocked or flooded, so you may need to discover an alternate route.
15. Sleeping bags or warm blankets
Extreme weather means there’s a risk of cold. Every person in your household should have a warm blanket or sleeping bag.