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[How-To] Prep for & Survive a Hurricane

You know what I’m tired of…hurricanes.

Hurricanes plague and exhaust me for months every year. But as a man who lives on Florida’s Nature Coast, in view of the Gulf of Mexico, I’ve come to accept hurricanes as a way of life.

Hurricane Andrew at Category 5 strength, and approaching the Bahamas and Miami, Florida on August 23, 1992. (Photo: NOAA)

What I haven’t accepted is the crazy amount of panic they create.

Every year hurricanes come, and I can’t get my weekly dose of powdered donuts because my local Walmart is stripped clean of anything edible.

It’s not that I don’t think hurricanes are serious…they are serious business. Hurricanes raze communities and cause fatalities.

Hurricane Isabel as seen from the ISS on September 15, 2003. (Photo: Mike Trenchard)

The frustrating part is that people wait until the last minute to prepare for days without power, food, and running water.

You’re not like those people, are you? No, of course not. You found this searching and researching how to prepare for a hurricane.

So, you’ve already taken the first step in preparing, and that’s learning. Good on you!

Loop of Hurricane Ida remaining in Category 4 form several hours after landfall. (Photo: NASA)

Since you’re here, let’s go over what you need to know to best prep for a hurricane.

We’ll talk about these natural disasters a little more, run through some supplies to have on hand, and the things you can do to be ready.

By the time we’re done, you’ll feel prepared next time a hurricane comes your way.

Table of Contents

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The Seriousness of Hurricanes

Numbers give perspective, and the numbers behind hurricanes and the damage they cause are quite serious.

For the economists, in 2019, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that hurricanes would cause $34 billion in losses to households, $9 billion in commercial losses, and $12 billion to the public sector.

Fatalities can range broadly depending on the season, location, and severity.

One of the worst years this decade was 2017, with 147 deaths. Hurricane Katrina reportedly killed over 1,800 people.

Hurricanes completely destroy homes and neighborhoods, displacing thousands of people for months at a time.

Aerial image of destroyed homes in Punta Gorda, following Hurricane Charley. (Photo: FEMA)

They are forces of nature that can’t be controlled or reasoned with. Hell, they can barely be predicted.

Prepping for one doesn’t make you some sort of crazy survivalist; it makes you prepared.

And preparing to survive a hurricane starts right now.

Get Ready: Pre-Planning

Buy a NOAA Radio

What’s the best piece of gear you can have?

A battery, hand-cranked, or hybrid type NOAA weather radio.

These radios receive alerts sent from NOAA to warn of incoming danger.

Radio

You don’t have to be constantly listening to the radio either. It will send out a piercing shrink before a message plays. It’s great for 3 a.m. wake-up calls.

Eton is recognized as one of the best options when it comes to price and functionality.

And the American Red Cross model is a crank and solar model with a rechargeable battery.

47
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

It also features a USB charger allowing you to charge gadgets and gizmos. You’ll be cranking for a bit. But entertaining a bored toddler with PJ Masks is worth it.

There’s also a built-in light, alarm clock, and red flashing beacon.

At less than $50, it’s a good buy if you live in an area with hurricanes, tornados, flooding, or other brutal weather events.

Stock Up Now

Don’t be one of those people stocking up on my powdered donuts at the last minute. Stock up on food now.

Best MRE Ready Wise
Stock up on food.

You need a minimum of three days’ worth of food and water for everyone in your home, including Fido.

Don’t forget about Fido

Food should be non-perishable and easy to travel with – preferably, high-calorie foods that’ll keep you from losing weight and replace anything lost from exertion.

I prefer foods that are easy to snack on and can be eaten on the go.

DIY MRE Dumplings
You can even make your own meals to go!

Survival foods from companies like Mountain House will do the trick, as will peanut butter and crackers. MREs are great but can be expensive.

Mountain House Prep Water-wm
Mountain House

Check out our full review on some of the most popular MRE brands. Or learn how to put your own MREs together.

Water is water. Individual bottles are often better than gallon jugs as they are easier to carry and drink from. Admittedly, gallon jugs are cheaper.

A good mix of the two may be wise.

Water Storage Containers
Water Storage Containers

Download the FEMA App

FEMA may be our eventual overlords, but they also produce a great app that can send your phone alerts for your location.

FEMA App

It’s small, seemingly non-intrusive, and handy for receiving notifications on demand.

Make a Plan

If you must evacuate, where are you going? How are you getting there?

Do you know an evacuation route? Do you have a secondary route? Do you have areas designated as shelters?

Family Emergency Plan

In my area, our local gas station is rated as an emergency shelter. I wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t research.

These are things worth knowing. Make a plan and ensure people in your home understand it.

Know where you’re going, how to get there…and make sure everyone else knows too.

Yard Work It

June through November is the Atlantic hurricane season, so you need to prep your yard ahead of hurricane season.

Yard work seems silly when it comes to prepping for a hurricane, but trust me, it’s valuable.

Urban Prep Tips Neighborhoods
Make sure that your lawn is prepped too!

Trim trees and limbs to prevent them from falling or even becoming projectiles.

Clear your gutters to allow the water to flow naturally. This prevents misdirected flooding and potential home damage.

Keep kid’s toys, lawn ornaments, and more locked away. They can become projectiles when winds pick up to 100+ miles per hour.

The Storm Is Coming

Have a Bug Out Bag Ready

A bug out bag, also called a go-bag, is useful if the hurricane sneaks up on you.

Every member of your family should have a bug out bag. If you have to bail from your home immediately, you grab and go.

Bug Out Bag
Bug Out Bag

We have an entire article about bug out bags, but here is a quick rundown of some of the essentials.

  • Weather appropriate clothing
  • A good raincoat
  • Food and water
  • A flashlight (Streamlight Sidewinder for the win)
  • Extra batteries
  • A good knife (ESEE 4)
  • Socks (Lots of them)
  • Toilet paper
  • Hygiene equipment
  • First aid kits (North American Rescue rules)

Need a bug out bag better suited for a family? Check out our guide on building a family bug out bag.

Keep Situational Awareness High

In just 15 minutes, storms can dramatically change paths. It gets tiresome, switching between sighs of relief and waiting to hear the call to evacuate.

I know; I’ve been there myself many times.

However, checking the news once every half-hour is well worth it. Good situational awareness allows you to react with more time, and more time is a godsend.

Keep Things Full

The news could be reporting the likelihood of a storm a week out, and when that starts, it’s smart to keep things full.

This includes gas tanks, gas containers, cell phones, rechargeable portable batteries, and beyond.

4. Prep Garage Gas Can
Keep these full

Start keeping things full and maintaining the discipline to do so. Those people that don’t plan drain gas tanks dry quickly when things get bad.

Pack Up

Once it looks like the storm is heading your way, it’s time to get proactive. Prepare for an evacuation order even before it’s issued.

The more you prep, the more time you’ll save.

First, it’s time to load your vehicle with the necessities — food, water, bug out bags, clothes, and some form of blanket and bedding if you must sleep in the car.

Bug out bags (2)
Load your family’s bug out bags.

After the necessities are loaded, you can begin loading the not-so-essential goods.

It’s wise to pack valuables — firearms, tech, jewelry, or personal mementos. While these things are not necessities, their value makes them wise to protect from both theft and storm damage.

Obviously, do so safely and legally.

Savior Equipment Specialist Internal Compartment
Pack up the goodies.

Prep Your Home

Once you’re packed up, you can start prepping your home too. If possible, board up windows, and close everything down. Lock up sheds, garages, and more.

Duct taping windows is an old myth. So, if you can’t board it up or close storm shutters, don’t use duct tape as a solution.

If you have expensive electronics, put them up high and away from windows. Hell, toss that TV on your bathroom counter. It’s likely to be quite safe.

You’re Stuck at Home

Somehow you missed every warning about hurricanes, and it’s on top of you. You’re in trouble, and you might be panicking.

If so, stop it. You can still accomplish some tasks to prevent the worst-case scenario.

Use as much time as you safely can to prepare your home. If possible, board up any windows at all, do so.

Focus on one room at a time, preferably starting with the one with the least amount of windows

Now you need to choose a room to hole up in while you wait out the storm. If you can, choose a room with few windows or any at all.

Prepping 101 with Allison
Find a room and bunker down.

Bathrooms are a common and often wise choice. (Being able to use a toilet is nice.)

Once you choose a room, stock it with food, water, candles, flashlights, blankets, and other essentials.

Food TP Bullets
Get all the essentials…

Include a book or two, bring chargers, a fire extinguisher, and anything else you may need to survive in a small room for an extended period.

Fill up any containers you have with water for drinking.

And don’t forget to fill the bathtub with water. Be warned soaps, hair, and more cling to the bottom of the tub. So, use this water for hygiene, flushing the toilet, and other tasks.

You can drink it in an emergency, but it should be boiled and filtered first.

Steri-pen and bottled water
Steri-pen and bottled water

Following the hurricane, you need to see if the city or county issued a warning. Tap water can become contaminated after a hurricane and unsafe to drink.

After that, prepare to bunker down. All you can do is stay put and wait it out at this point.

Conclusion

At a minimum, hurricanes are a massive pest knocking out power and communications for days.

At most, they destroy entire cities, causing massive and immediate homelessness, contaminating water, and resulting in death.

An aerial view from a U.S. Air Force helicopter is shown in Galveston, Texas, September 13th, 2008. (Photo: Staff Sgt. James L. Harper Jr., U.S. Air Force)

Preparation is 90% of the battle because you can’t exactly fight a hurricane. You just have to deal with it. Being prepared, using some common sense, and exercising situational awareness are all brilliant tools to have at your disposal.

Forces of nature can’t be avoided or negotiated with, but they can be planned for.

What’s your plan? Any advice from seasoned hurricaners? Drop your advice below. For more survival articles, check out our Survival Category.

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1 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    KodiakJack

    Well done Travis.

    September 6, 2021 3:22 pm
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