June 1 marks the start of hurricane season. Now is the time to start preparing. It can take awhile to gather all the things needed whether you stay or evacuate.
The National Hurricane Center has a nice booklet that explains what a hurricane is.
Ready.gov has a list of items everyone should consider keeping in an emergency kit.
Recommended Items To Include In A Basic Emergency Supply Kit:
Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit
Whistle to signal for help
Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
Additional Items To Consider Adding To An Emergency Supply Kit:(My note: The following items are essential for preparing for a hurricane)
Prescription medications and glasses
Infant formula and diapers
Pet food and extra water for your pet
Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
Cash or traveler's checks and change
Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) - PDF, 277Kb) developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information.(My note: If you live in an area close to beaches, rivers, etc take photo albums if evacuating and protect them in waterproof materials if staying)
Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from www.ready.gov.
Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
Matches in a waterproof container
Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
Paper and pencil
Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Some additional recommendations by me:
Have a phone that can be plugged in directly to the phone jack. When the power is out, you can still get a dial tone as long as the phone lines haven't had too much damage.
Save bags from the grocery store. These can be very useful in many different ways.
If you are not evacuating, have a propane table top grill. This will be useful for boiling water and having warm meals. A charcoal grill is good as well but if your power is out for more than three days, you will have to have a lot of charcoal on hand.
Instead of a three day supply of food and water, I would recommend at the very minimum a week's supply. After Hurricane Katrina, many stores were not able to reopen. If roads and bridges are out, it could take longer than three days for state and federal emergency management to get to you.
Make sure to fill your gas tank up. I usually fill mine up when any tropical system hits the Gulf of Mexico.
The most important thing is to rely on what local officials tell you. If you live in an area that is ordered to evacuate, do so. Don't rely on bench marks from prior hurricanes. Many people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast thought they were safe when Hurricane Katrina hit because they lived in areas that didn't flood during Hurricane Camille's storm surge.
Each tropical system is different and unique. Even depressions can cause major problems if there's a great amount of rain. You need to prepare for a tropical storm or a minimal hurricane like you would if a major hurricane was making landfall.
Also, if you are under a tropical storm watch or warning, pick-up loose items outside. When squall lines come through, those items can become airborne and can damage your home.