In the wake of Dorian’s passing, I’ve had several questions from readers about our “hurricane kit.” If we have a list or something.
We do, but it’s in my head. LOL
So I posted on Facebook a brief summary, but I want to expand upon it here, in case it helps anyone.
A few words about buying food for your emergency kit. Look, everyone has different needs and different reasons to prep, etc. Obviously, someone out in the Midwest isn’t prepping for a hurricane. Bottom line, everyone should have at least three days of emergency supplies on hand at all times. That’s easy to do, just rotate through it and make sure it’s food you’d usually buy. But here’s how I do it for us. Firstly, I have “buckets” of Mountain House freeze-dried, shelf-stable 30-year food. It’s like 9 days’ worth of food total. Those are packs we won’t tap into unless the SRHTF and we’re out of all other food.
This is also a great starting point for road-trip food planning, if you are trying to keep costs down and not eat every meal in a restaurant.
As you can see from the picture of my “pantry” (it’s an old house with only one closet in the whole house, shut up) I have a bunch of canned goods. Not everything is in that shelf. There are a few other things on another shelf in the next room, and some dried goods I keep in the fridge and freezer simply to make sure they don’t get weevils, but what you’re looking at on that shelf is the bulk of our emergency food, other than bottled water and Gatorade. Nearly all of that is stuff we’d usually eat, but outside of hurricane season, it’s not stuff we’d have in such great quantities. (So if nothing else, we are good on groceries for a while. LOL)
I have a LOT of canned chicken. Why?
Because I fucking love canned chicken. Seriously. I mean, sometimes, if I’m in a bad flare, I’ll dump a can of chicken in a bowl with cottage cheese, boom, a meal I can eat that’s easy on my stomach. I also have canned tuna, canned ham, deviled ham sandwich spread, Vienna sausages (which I loathe but my dad loves them, and if I don’t use them they’ll go to a friend whose kids love them), and corned beef hash.
We also have a couple of boxes of crackers. Because you slap canned meat on a cracker, boom, cracker sandwich.
I have a lot of soup that’s the kind that doesn’t need water or milk added. Why? Because you can literally open it and eat it straight out of the can, cold, without needing to cook it or add water or milk to it, if you have to. I do have cans of cream of mushroom and chicken, and chicken broth, because we use those a lot. Hubby will frequently eat soup for lunch, so this isn’t something we wouldn’t normally have on hand anyway. Usually, we just have a few cans, though.
We have two cases of ramen noodles, and again, those are things we eat anyway. We both love them and eat them several times a week, and they’ll keep for a while.
I have a couple of large bags of trail mix.
I have a LOT of rice (close to 10 pounds just in several kinds of rice), couscous, lentils, beans, and other dried goods. Yes, you need water for them, but guess what? I have a little electric rice cooker that I can run off my generator, and it only needs a little water to cook those. So 20 minutes later, boom, hot rice. Mix with one of the soups and toss in some canned meat? Instant hot meal that will feed several people.
We have canned veggies, of course. And one thing I don’t normally keep such large quantities of are the packs of fruit in juice or water, like mandarine oranges, peaches, etc. Normally we eat fresh fruit, or frozen, but I stock up so I can have some variety if forced to eat from the hurricane supplies. If we don’t need those for a storm, we’ll slowly work through them and literally probably finish them by the start of next storm season (when it’s time to buy more LOL).
Large box of Pop-Tarts. Again, not something I normally eat, but you can eat them cold and it’s quick energy. I also have some breakfast cookies that we do eat as quick on-the-go meals sometimes.
Three different kinds of “cracker sandwiches,” the variety pack kinds with like cheese crackers and peanut butter, etc. Those I don’t normally keep on hand, but they keep for a long time, and occasionally I will snack on them, and they’re something we can eat cold.
And there’s also non-perishable stuff we usually have on hand, like pretzels, chips, cereal, Oreos, pudding cups, things like that. You want to have snacks/sweets so you have something to break up the monotony. If nothing else, throw a bag of mints or hard butterscotch candies in your kit so you have a little sweet something in there. Of course some people love jerky and add that. I sometimes grab it when I’m thinking about it, but I like jerky and Hubby isn’t a fan, so I don’t usually keep any on-hand. If I eat any, it’s because I’ve grabbed a bag for a snack or something.
Bottled water. Two large cases. That’s in addition to 6 x 5-gallon jugs, and two other 5-gallon water containers. (And the 100-gallon bathtub liner.) We normally have a case of bottled water because even though we have a filter, Hubby doesn’t like our well water, so while we don’t normally keep the big jugs filled, we usually have some on-hand.
Two cases of Gatorade, lemon-lime. Because I DO drink that a lot if I’m in a fibro flare and my nausea’s bad. Sometimes if my pain is really bad, it’s all I can keep down. So again, something we normally have, but just greater quantities.
Not counting the two buckets of freeze-dried food, if I had to work on feeding us through using up the freezer/fridge food we already have (generator) and then start using the rice/dried goods and canned foods, I could literally easily feed us for two weeks before we were down to just rice/dried food. Maybe even longer than that, because of the ramen noodles.
HINT: If you aren’t familiar with ramen noodles, you literally can get a case of 12 for like $2 or less. So they’re good and CHEAP to have on hand if you’ll have a way to heat water. Or you can let them soak in water for a while without cooking them. Not as good, but if you’re hungry enough, at least you won’t starve.
But…I have a generator and the little rice cooker. I also have an electric kettle I can plug into the generator to heat water. AND… I have a propane grill I can heat water on if I had to. I also have a Coleman camp stove I can use to heat water.
So there’s my emergency food stuffs. I’m slowly adding more freeze-dried food to my kit, but the price always goes sky-high when there’s a massive storm. I don’t have room to can and save food myself. The buckets of freeze-dried food are usually in our storage unit, until we have a storm, then we bring them over to the house, just in case. They come in waterproof buckets that remind me of kitty litter buckets. (Hint: You can wash kitty litter buckets and use them for hurricane kit storage, and they stack great!)
Of course I have other things in my hurricane kit, but that’s just the food end of it. We’ll work our way through the food, then if we run low of something when a storm’s coming, we add more. What few things I don’t want for normal use, again, either my parents eat them, or I can give them to a friend with kids who love them, so they aren’t wasted. Pick stuff YOU and your family like for your kit, or if you have certain dietary needs, build your kit around that. Look at what you normally eat and see what you can do to add extras for a hurricane kit, and rotate through your stocks so nothing goes bad.
Another word about your kit–it needs to be portable. In 2017, when we evacuated to my parents’ house for Irma, we literally packed up the entire contents of our food–including the fridge and freezer–and took it all over to their house, where we had generators running for the week we were without power. So we didn’t lose any food. But even if we hadn’t gone to my parents’ house, I could have easily packed up the non-perishables in a couple of boxes or totes and took them with us.
DO NOT FORGET A CAN OPENER.
I carry one of those P-38 can openers on my key ring, and have several others stashed around. They’re great. If you don’t have one of those, make sure you put your manual can opener with your supplies.
Notice alcohol is not a part of my emergency supplies? Because only amateurs party during a fucking storm. Seriously. If the weather is bad and something happens, I do not want to be drunk. Trying to deal with a limb through your roof is not made easier when you’re toasted.
What else do you need to have in your kit?
- Pet food and supplies (and shot records, travel carriers/crates, kitty litter, small travel litter pans, towels, puppy pads, etc.). Whatever pets you have, think travel crate and food/supplies.
- Light source and batteries (do NOT use candles except as a last resort). LED lanterns are great, and the battery-operated “candles” are neat, too (and SAFE).
- Grill (and propane or charcoal) and/or camp stove (with fuel bottles)
- Lighter for the grill/camp stove
- Medications (for you and pets)
- Water containers (I have a bunch of different ones, including a 100-gallon bathtub bladder.)
- Battery packs to recharge our phones, including two solar-powered ones, and an emergency weather radio that also has a solar panel and a hand-crank and can be used to charge devices.
- How will you go to the bathroom if you lose water and don’t want to use all your stored water to flush a toilet? Well, depending on where you live, digging a hole in the ground might not be practical/possible. We have a small chemical toilet, but I hate using it. Then I discovered you can buy seats that snap on a 5-gallon bucket. Just use a garbage bag and throw some dirt/kitty litter into the bag. (Double-bag it, obviously, for strength.) This is a great option if you have kids, too. Also great for camping, etc. We have kitty litter, sooo…
- Garbage bags. Not just for trash or the honey bucket, either. I get several boxes of the kind we usually use anyway, then at least a couple of boxes of extra large ones, then a box or two of contractor’s bags. Because if I need to bag stuff to protect it, or to move it in a hurry, I can. I bagged all our electronics that had to get left behind when we evacuated from Irma, in hopes that if the roof went, they wouldn’t get wet. Also bagged things like books, pictures, etc, and stored all that kind of stuff under the dining room table, under chairs, hoping it’d protect them somewhat.
- Tarps and plastic sheeting. I keep a couple of smaller tarps on hand, like I wrapped our bed and tied the tarp down with paracord in hopes the mattress wouldn’t get wet if the roof went. Plastic sheeting, like the heavier rolls you can buy cheaply for painting projects, is great because you can wrap larger objects, like couches, or if you get a leak you can drape it over a section of room to try to protect things.
- A couple of coils of paracord, just in case I need to lash anything down. (It’s cheap.)
- Bungee cords, ditto.
- Packing tape and painter’s tape. Packing tape for holding boxes shut and holding garbage bags in place around TVs, etc, and painter’s tape to secure stuff to items I didn’t want to ruin the finish of. (Yes, I have duct tape, but don’t tape your windows. That’s useless and is a pain in the ass to clean up later. If you can’t put up boards or storm shutters, taping the windows will not do anything.)
- Extra charger cords for electronics. If you only have ONE charger cord for your phone, guess when it will choose to give up the ghost?
- Have all websites for local weather, emergency management, etc. saved on your phone’s browser.
- Car titles, home deeds, insurance papers, birth and marriage certificates, IDs and Social Security cards, children’s school and vaccination records, etc. Have copies of them saved on your phone as PDFs in a password-secured folder. (Phone/tablet scanner programs are cheap and work with your device’s camera.) If you lose them, you still have copies to make the process easier later. Also suggest having last year’s tax returns, because if you have to apply for FEMA aid, they’ll probably want that anyway.
- Patience. (A fuckton of that.)
- Wipes, both the cleaning kind and baby wipes. You don’t want to wipe your hands with the cleaning kind, if you can avoid it. Baby wipes are great for not only wiping hands, but also for personal hygiene, in case you can’t bathe for days.
- Hand sanitizer.
- Bleach (for sanitizing dish water because you might not have hot water, and for purifying water).
- If you have a generator, you’ll want gas. If you don’t have a generator, you’ll still want at least a 5-gallon fuel can. Fill it. Then if you don’t need it, use it in your car. If you have a vehicle that guzzles gas, get two or three fuel cans. Because if you need to evacuate, or even if you don’t, fuel will likely be scarce. I know my Element holds a little over 12 gallons, and I’m getting approximately 22 mpg. So a 5-gallon fuel can will take me approximately 100 miles, give or take. (Do NOT store them in a hot vehicle or in the sun!)
For the batteries, flashlights, etc. we have a designated plastic tote with HURRICANE SUPPLIES written on it in permanent marker so we can find it easily. Don’t forget headlamps, because at night they’re dang helpful, and they are cheap now. We have a couple of rechargeable lights, and they’re great normally, but remember that if you don’t have power, you’ll want to make sure you have ones that run on batteries.
Also, we have a couple of UPS units that also have surge protection built into them, for our modem, etc. If you use a generator, use one of those and plug your electronics into THAT, because depending on your generator there might be power surges that can fry your electronic devices.
Most emergency management agencies have lists of things you need for your kit depending on your locale. Make sure to check with them.
Stay safe! And feel free to chime in in the comments with things in your emergency kit.