10 Tips for Your Hurricane Preparedness Kit*

hurricane iselle brings rain to kauai
View from my lanai early Saturday as #Iselle passed south of Kauai.

The word, “kit,” of course, is a misnomer. You’ll need a garage to store all this stuff. That aside, next time there’s a hurricane warning, remember to:

  1. Put all essential documents like passports, marriage certificates, birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and credit cards in Ziploc plastic bags. Go ahead and double bag them. And don’t chintz on the off-brands. In fact, buy the heavier freezer bags.
  2. Stash all computers, camera gear, iPad, Kindles AND their chargers in dry bags. (Do not rely on plastic garbage bags to do the trick.) But charge everything 100% first and, then, power them off completely—not just standby mode. Don’t forget external hard drives. Put all dry bags in a sturdy box—wooden, perhaps—so they don’t get crushed. Consider buying additional Pelican cases for the really important stuff, which, if it’s going in this kit, is probably all really important. Oh, and did I mention backing up everything to the Cloud? Do that.
  3. Speaking of charging and, thereby, chargers, I hear the days following a hurricane are some of the sunniest and prettiest on record. Think about buying solar chargers. I picked up a Brunton EMBER 2800 Hybrid Power Ban and Solar Charger for this very reason. It’ll charge my iPhone up to two times, and I can re-charge it just by letting it catch some rays. Of course, there’s no telling whether the cell phone towers will still be up.
  4. That brings me to batteries. Buy A, AA, AAA, and D. Loads of them. Then, when the storm passes, and you haven’t cracked open a single package, return them all. Of course, you’ll need batteries for flashlights, head lamps and lanterns. Pack those.
  5. Don’t get me started on all the plastic-wrapped, plastic bottles in cases that are further wrapped in plastic. I know plastic is the bee’s knees in water protection—see above reference to Ziploc bags—but visions of single-use plastic bottles swirling in gale-force winds make me grind my teeth at night. Instead, fill the bathtub and five-gallon buckets. Dig out your water purifier from your camping kit and keep it handy. If you have water bladders for hiking and paddling, fill them with water and throw them in the freezer. Also, fill Nalgene bottles and glass jars, and stash as many as you can in the freezer. If the electricity goes out, they’ll work as ice packs in coolers for a while and, then, provide fresh water once they thaw.
    after the tropical storm iselle
    View from my lanai this morning–after Iselle.
  6. Find a plastic tub lying around the house and fill it with all your notebooks and journals. Add blank ones along with pencils/pens. Top the tub with your 10 favorite books of all time. This could take days to select. Start now. In a separate tub, put all research books for those book projects on which you’re working, along with the AlphaSmart NEO, your adorable battery-operated word processor. Then, seal both tubs with duct tape.
  7. Ah, yes, duct tape. Buy rolls and rolls and rolls of duct tape. Be prepared to duct tape the windows. There’s some question as to whether this is effective, so if you do it—because it makes you feel better like it would me—be sure the tape is attached to a window frame. That’s supposed to help. But I really cannot say. When the storm passes and you’ve survived unscathed, return all but one roll of duct tape, because it’s always good to have an extra roll around the house. Then, either buy one sheet of plywood every month until you have all the windows of your house earmarked or consider buying hurricane shields like the kind my friend Pam has.
  8. Don’t forget the dogs. Dig out their dog crates from the back of the garage. Make sure they’re wearing a collar with some sort of identification—add duct tape and use a Sharpie to write your phone number on it, if need. Keep their leashes handy. And because the husband makes all their dog food from scratch, pick up a couple bags of dry food. If it’s the crappy kind and goes un-opened, return it later.
  9. That rusty, old generator sitting in the corner of the garage with recycling stacked on top? Get it out. Dust it off. Test it. Oh, be sure to gas up all your vehicles, so you can siphon out the gas and use it in the generator.
  10. Food: coffee (for the husband), tea (for you), cases of canned food (soup, beans, tomatoes), root vegetables, corn tortillas, almond milk, cereal, pasta, and, to make your husband really, really happy–really good, really dark chocolate.

Think about it all from this perspective: It’s like going on a really big, long kayak-camping trip down Napali Coast.

What about you? Got some tips/suggestions for the kit? Please post them in the comments below.


*And, no, I did not do all these things. We got lucky in my corner of Kauai. #Iselle and #Julio provided a night of good rain, but otherwise didn’t wreck havoc on my world. Things were different on Big Island, where Iselle made a direct hit. Some people I know are still without power and water four days after Iselle made landfall. I’ve heard of homes demolished and four-hundred-year-old trees uprooted. My thoughts and prayers go out to all affected.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Michael says:

    I don’t like the “buy lots of stuff and return if not used” philosophy. Think of the other folks that may actually need some of that inventory. (Our first disagreement).


    1. Kim says:

      Believe me, I wouldn’t have bought the batteries and duct tape if I didn’t think there was a real threat and we might really need them. I’ve wrestled with just keeping them, but I’ve had older batteries “explode” before they got used. I just don’t have much use for a 14-pack of D batteries. And we all know how adhesives lose their stickiness here in this humidity. I would rather return some stuff, or so my thinking goes, so it gets used by others before it goes bad.

      Note: I didn’t buy a single case of single-use bottled water. Nor did I stock up on extra toilet paper, rice, or spam:-)

      Does that make sense?

      Friends again?


  2. Thanks Kim – great advice here, will save this. Some of it (like the solar charger idea – I have been thinking about this) also useful for us here in earthquake land. Maybe add a bottle or two of good red wine to go with the chocolate? 🙂


    1. Kim says:

      Wine! Now, why didn’t I think of that?


  3. Michael says:

    Well, ok. Maybe you need more solar powered stuff. And I did like some of your suggestions.

    Yes, Friends always.


    1. Kim says:

      Solar-powered gear? You bet! Next time, Costco has those solar lights like Kat has, I’m in. And, then, I wouldn’t need batteries, at all. I like that idea.


  4. Sherilyn Lee says:

    I think the iPod is the most underrated part of a disaster preparedness kit. I can use my iPod for days without having to charge it. So, it makes great back up location for photos, contact information, notes. I also recommend making a playlist of music you love. Sometimes music can soothe, sometimes it’s a great motivation to get a move on and let’s clean this up! Use that to your psychological advantage. Put spare headsets in your go bag, maybe even consider speakers. I’d also add good work gloves and bandanas — I never regret having those in my work bag. Thanks for mentioning head lamps – again, most folks forget about those – hands free lighting can be everything.


  5. Kim says:

    Reminder to self: Add hand-crank radio to the kit. And Eric’s super-duper, high-beam flashlight with AC/DC charge adapters. And, duh, a first-aid kit!


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