Nobody wants to be caught in a hurricane, but if you live in an area of the country where hurricanes are common then you should have a checklist of items available during hurricane season just in case the unexpected happens. You should have enough supplies to last at least seven days for all members of your household.
- Water. We all need water to survive. Plan to stock at least one gallon per person per day of drinkable water.
- Food. Canned food works best as it can be stored for an extended amount of time, but also consider stocking up on snacks and even pet food if needed. If you have a small child then consider stocking up on baby food and or formula. Make sure that you have a couple of can openers in good working condition. Consider also stocking up on powdered milk and juices. Dried fruit is nutritious snack that can be stored for a relatively long amount of time.
- Light. There are a lot of ways to light your home when power is lost during a hurricane. The tradition method of stocking up on candles might seem like a good idea, but remember that the last thing you want during a hurricane is for your house to burn down due to a lit candle. Candles and kerosene lights are no longer recommended for hurricane preparedness. Electric power options are many and include batteries for a flashlight and for a portable television or radio. Another option for making your home even more self-sufficient would be to use a residential solar power system with battery backup. Basically your solar energy cells give you extra power during the day; perhaps even enough to sell back to the power company, and you use the grid at night. If you opt for a solar cell system with backup batteries then your solar cells will provide enough power to run several major appliances in your house include the refrigerator, lights, television, cordless phones and even supply some power for heating. With the battery backup system you will be able to use some electricity at night as well in emergency situations when the electric grid is down. This is the right time to invest in solar energy as government subsidies are available that could help defray the initial cost. Most solar systems eventually pay for themselves, but could take as long 15 to 20 years.
- First Aid and Medications. Be sure to have at least a couple weeks worth of medication in hurricane season if your physician is prescribing you medications you take on a daily basis. Stock up on common medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Also have a good supply of First Aid materials such as bandages, alcohol for cleaning wounds, and other First Aid items such as tweezers.
- Fire Extinguishers and smoke alarms. Just because there is a hurricane outside doesn't mean that a fire can't start in your house, especially if you are using wood to heat your home or even to cook food. Check fire extinguishers regularly as recommended by their manufacturer to ensure that they are in good working condition. Do have a supply of matches though in case wood burning is the only option you have to generate heat.
- Keep copies of important documents where you can easily take them with you in case you need to evacuate the house. These might include copies of birth certificates, a copy of your homeowner insurance policy, important phone numbers, and maps of the local area in case you need to evacuate on foot.
- Stock up on tools and plywood that you could use to protect the windows of your house in cases of extreme wind. Talk with experts at your local home building supplies store about the best material to buy and how to install plywood over windows should the need arrive.
Remember to mentally envision what you would need for a couple weeks if you couldn't go to the store, this might mean stocking up on diapers for a infant or other needs specific for your family. Preparation and planning is the key to surviving a hurricane.