During a hurricane, you need some supplies just to survive. But many of those supplies are hard to find if you wait until a storm is approaching. So it’s better to make sure you’ve got some of the essentials now, according to experts with the LSU AgCenter.
“When a storm hits, you may be able to stay at home — or you may have to evacuate and find yourself spending a night or several nights in a car, a shelter or somewhere else,” says Pat Skinner of the LSU AgCenter. “It’s important to make your plans accordingly.”
Skinner says it’s also important to consider that those who stay at home could be housebound for several days without power and that water could be off or contaminated. It’s also likely that stores will be closed at least for a little while after a storm passes.
“That’s why it’s important to gather what you’ll need to survive such an event — now while it’s early in the hurricane season,” she says. “Be sure you store your supplies above the level of potential flooding, and don’t forget about the needs of your pets, as well as your family.”
LSU AgCenter experts offer these suggestions for things you can do long before the threat of a storm, so you’ll be ready when one approaches:
• Update phone numbers, addresses, meeting locations and priorities in your family disaster plan and make sure everyone is aware of the plan — particularly how you’ll make contact if you’re forced to evacuate.
• Check and refresh your stash of life’s necessities, such as food, water and medications. Keep enough on hand to last through a storm and its aftermath. (It’s OK to fill clean containers with tap water to serve as your emergency drinking-water supply. Just change it out every six months.)
• Check and refresh your gear for primitive living. Make sure you have such items as flashlights, fresh batteries, lanterns and lantern fuel, insect repellent, matches, battery-powered radio, first-aid kit, ice chest, disposable plates and utensils, hand wipes or liquid hand sanitizer and a manual can opener. If you’ve got a generator and plan to depend on it if the power goes out, make sure you also have fuel to operate it.
• Collect any items you want to bring if you have to evacuate (or at least make a list of what you plan to pack). Pack one bundle per person, and remember you have to carry or transport what you’re taking, so try to keep it as light as possible. Don’t forget clean clothing, important paperwork, spare car keys, cash/credit cards, toiletries, identification and other items you’ll need while away from home.
• Locate your window protection panels and the hardware needed to install them. If you don’t have these already, consider getting them now or think about having storm shutters installed as this year’s home improvement project. If you decide on shutters, all you have to do is close them when a storm is coming, not find and hang them.
• Keep your car’s gas tank full, if possible, but make sure it’s full anytime a storm is approaching. Also keep a tire repair kit, small shovel and maps in the car.
• Start bringing unsecured items indoors or lashing them down. If it doesn’t need to be in the yard, store it now. The more things like lawn chairs you put away now, the less you’ll have to do if a storm is coming.
• If you’re in an area where it may flood, find concrete blocks to be used for raising furniture and appliances. Water may wick up the blocks, so plan to put plastic between the blocks and articles placed on top.
• Consider buying a generator to meet your emergency requirements for electricity if your utility service is disrupted. This is particularly important if you must operate medical equipment, and it may be the best way to protect your investment in frozen foods.
“If you plan to buy a generator, do it now,” Skinner says. “Many stores have them all year long, and you can watch for bargains. But they’ll be tough to find when a storm is coming or right after one hits.”
For more information on preparing for storms or a variety of issues related to your family’s health and safety, visit LSU AgCenter.
You can find a handy hurricane tracking chart and tips on preparing for storms by looking for “There’s a hurricane forming” on that site. You also can find a variety of publications to help you prepare for storms, recover after one or take steps to protect your property from flooding listed at Disaster Information.