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Tips for Surviving Hurricanes

Deciding what to take into your storm shelter area isn’t difficult. However, missing just one or two vital items can make a huge difference later when 100 mile an hour winds rage outside. Unlike tornadoes which last a few short moments and typically don’t devastate as large of an area, hurricanes have the potential to damage entire regions for a sustained period.

Common items we take for granted on a daily basis become precious commodities in the aftermath of a hurricane. The survivors of 2005 Hurricane Wilma would agree. More than 500 waited in line for cleaning supplies outside a store in Ft. Lauderdale after Wilma struck. Recovery is often a long, arduous process. Packing a sound survival kit is essential, not only for the hurricane’s duration, but also for extended periods till life returns to normal.

Here are some tips on preparing a survival kit that will take you through gale force winds and beyond:

Emergency Food Supplies

  • Water- a 2 week supply for each person. Most experts recommend a gallon of water, per person for each day. That might seem like a lot. But later, in stifling hot temperatures, you’ll be glad for this necessity. Buy water in 5 gallon containers to save on storage space.
  • Non-Perishable Foods- Instant oatmeal, canned meat or fish, crackers, rice cakes, cookies, canned soups, canned vegetables and fruits, canned ravioli or spaghetti, cereals, peanut butter, juices, instant coffee, energy bars, granola, trail mix, instant rice, tea. Any other non-perishable packaged food that needs little preparation or cooking. 7-14 days of supplies are recommended. If space is limited, plan on no less than 3 days of food products for your family.
  • Staples- Little luxuries, like sugar for your instant coffee, will be greatly missed if you don’t remember to include it in your survival kit. Pack sugar, flour, salt, pepper, corn meal, powdered as well as condensed milk.
  • For Babies- Infant formula, disposable bottle liners, extra bottles and nipples. Spare pacifier. At least three weeks of diapers and wipes. Canned baby food and boxed baby cereal. Depending on the age of your child, you can adjust accordingly. At least 2 weeks of items, as these are heavily in demand once stores open.
  • Suggested- Small packages of condiments.

Emergency Supply Essentials

  • Battery-operated radio or weather radio. Plus extra batteries.
  • Flashlights for each person. Plan on using one set of batteries a day. Store at least a 3 day supplies of flashlight batteries.
  • Camping lantern – pick one that runs on an extended battery. Also include matches and candles.
  • Manual can and bottle opener, coffee filters (to strain drinking water), cooking utensils, pots, and pans.
  • Disposable plates, cups and utensils.
  • Sterno cans or camping stove for heating food in your shelter. (Be careful to select a stove that doesn’t produce fumes in enclosed spaces). Small charcoal grill for cooking outdoors when hurricane passes. Extra charcoal.
  • Plain household bleach. DO not substitute products marked “containing bleach”. Bleach has germ killing properties that other cleaners do not. In addition, you can use it to purify drinking water in emergencies.
  • Paper towels, small cooler, large black trash bags, work gloves, zippered quart or gallon bags, rope, a large tarp, duct tape, scissors, utility knife and needle and thread. At least one soft, lightweight backpack or pillowcase in case you have to evacuate.
  • First aid kit. Choose a very high quality kit, as you may be administering first aid to family and neighbors. Pick one with pain relievers, aspirin, eye wash, bandages, cotton, antacids, diarrhea medication, anti-biotic cream, and burn spray. Add a thermometer, mosquito repellent, and medical gloves.
  • Personal care items- toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair brush, soap, shampoo, conditioner, towels, feminine products, toilet and tissue paper. At least one change of clothes for each family member, plus light jackets, closed-toe shoes and socks.
  • Storage containers for water and fuel. You should also have a tool kit, crescent wrench and ax. After Hurricane Katrina, many stranded in flooded areas used an ax to chop through the roof and climb out to safety.

Emergency Supply Tips

  • If additional drinking water is needed, purify by bringing to a rolling boil for 1 minute.
  • Use plain household bleach to purify if heating water is not possible. Add 5 drops bleach to ½ gallon water. For cloudy or very cold water, you’ll need 10 drops per ½ gallon water. Let stand 30 minutes.
  • Store water in a clean, covered container. Strain prior to purifying with coffee filters. While bleach kills most germs, it is not as effective as boiling.
  • Waterproof containers should be used to store food. Date and label containers. Keep items arranged so oldest items are used first. Place staples, cereal, crackers and other dry goods in zippered bags and store in tightly sealed containers.

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