storing hurricane *necessities*

joulesR4meMay 17, 2005

Though I'm not a *regular* on this board (I should be), I'm hoping you all might have some time to give me some advice/suggestions ....

I live in the central FL area and have dealt with the routine of hurricane evacuations since I was a kid. What I learned over the years is that waiting for the storm to develop (and impending strike) is not the time to start preparing. My organization skills are usually limited to creating list, but rarely using them. Sigh. However, six or seven years ago I took my first baby step ... preparing a hurricane evacuation kit. The Kit has grown like a weed. I actually bought a larger vehicle to enable me to tote The Kit in case of evacuation. (This is one thing that I would not advise --- purchase of a huge, unnecessary SUV --- but that's another story.) Anyway ... my kit now includes the typical stuff like water, food & first aid stuff and also camping equipment (in case there's nothin' left) and repair items (in case some is left). I used to store the small stuff in milk crates and the tent/sleeping bag/other large stuff in the guest room closet. But, I'm getting a room-mate and need to relocate The Kit. Do you all have any ideas for storing this stuff??? The milk crates are pretty handy for the food items, but I have nothing to *corral* the larger things together or the odd shaped stuff (flashlights, candles, small tools, bleach, paper plates, etc). Some of this stuff could be stored in the garage --- that is, if I had a garage (NOT). Thanks for any suggestions you might have - just preparing The Kit is enough stress. Time to replenish the food items. Though it's a little costly to purchase enough non-perishibles for the suggested two weeks, it's worth the peace of mind. Last year I was on travel when Hurricane Frances came our way. Took the red-eye home, stopped at Walmart for some bread (with 100 other people) and fruit, slapped up the plywood at 3:00 am, loaded the truck with The Kit and The Dogs and headed north. Hit Jacksonville by midnight. What an ordeal - returned home needing only a bit of maintenance and w/o power for about a week. It was weeks before there was gas or food in the stores, so I was thankful for The Kit!

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Maybe you just need a bigger storage container? A Rubbermaid Roughneck?

It doesn't need to be in use year-round, of course. And the camping stuff, could maybe just be packed as "camping stuff," but compact so it can suddenly be annexed as The Kit.

You have no garage; what other "out of the house" storage do you have or can you create? Can you put up a shed in the back? Or build a lean-to up against the house? Just big enough to house the camping stuff? Do you have an attic of any sort? of course stuff can't ride out the storm there, but it could hang out there while there IS no storm.

Foodstuffs don't have to hang around very LONG, right? how long *is* hurricane season? Could stuff like water jugs just hang out in the SUV for a month or two? (camping stuff gets to hang around all year, so that's probably in need of a permanent yet easy-to-access storage spot).

You may also, during hurricane season, benefit from some safety-net *routines*; you ALWAYS fill up the tank on the way home from work, every day (there's usually a tad bit of warning--"Tropical Storm Frances," for example).

You might also have some stuff that's ALWAYS around, not just in hurricane time. I'm always struck by how lots of the disaster-readiness stuff is useful for SMALL disasters, or even small inconveniences. Having a rechargeable flashlight always in the car is a great idea. Keeping a jug or two of water around constantly helps even if the water just goes out.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 6:37PM
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You could contact the Red Cross/Salvation Army etc. to ask for list what you need. When you store water, watch the due date and when it gets close, use it and replace it. Even the weather channel has lists and ideas, so do stores line Home Depot. I know you need flashlights, battery operated radio, but watch the batteries, some people don't put them in the flashlight until needed.
You could also go search online,==type in hurricane survior lists etc.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 10:20PM
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Why "store" food and water in a kit at all? Hurricanes don't just happen all at once.

Yes, do keep your SUV topped off if there are any tropicals on the horizon, but if you've got a generator DO NOT count on using that gas for it -- you can't siphon out of most vehicles anymore.

If you want to take food with you on your evacuation, just gather the food from the pantry -- you can always get more when you reach your 'safe zone' (Jax in your case last year). Ditto on the water -- how thirsty can you get on a few hour drive?

I think your list of "necessities" are for those that are not evacuating, therefore you shouldn't need to store them at all if you're planning to get out of Dodge at the drop of a warning.

If you're a 'stay at home' like I was last year, here are some tips:

Don't count on the 30 gallons of gas in your SUV for the generator -- can't siphon it out, so have extra gas cans at the ready.

Have at least 2 jugs of propane topped off for the grill (or lots of charcoal if you don't have a gas grill)

Cook up food in the freezer before you need to, then put it back in the freezer. It won't rot if you lose power, and it'll just defrost itself and be ready for eating (who says you can't eat food that isn't HOT?)

If you've got trees, keep them trimmed... dead wood breaks, live wood will bend some -- maybe you'll get lucky on that!

Do have an ample supply of water in case the water system fails. Can live on water alone for quite a while. (Good time for a diet anyone?? LOL).

DO have some blue tarps, duct tape and roofing nails handy, along with some 'contractor clean-up' bags in case you need some strong plastic.

That's all I can think of right now. Hope everyone has a safe hurricane season!


    Bookmark   May 21, 2005 at 11:56AM
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We used to keep similar supplies on hand when we lived in FL, and then donated most items once a year to a food bank before buying new supplies. We were lucky to have a small closet under the stairs in the kitchen for convenient storage that could hold two suitcases and some large plastic bins.

I've read of several storage ideas, such as buying a galvanized steel trash can the right height for an end/night table, cutting a round piece of plywood for a top & covering the whole thing w/ a 70" - 92" round cloth (& a piece of glass,if desired.) You might find an antique trunk, or a new wicker one, that fits your decor and use it for a coffee table/storage chest. There are underbed plastic bins on wheels that could hold canned goods, first aid supplies, candles, flashlights, etc. A Rubbermaid bin could be left in the back of your vehicle & used for the paper plates, toilet paper, a couple of changes of clothes, and other things that wouldn't be harmed by high heat.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2005 at 12:36PM
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We have a Makita flashlight that is rechargeable with a power-tools quality battery. It is an excellent flashlight and the power lasts forever. Plus, you can bring an extra battery. The batteries are about $30 each, so you get the idea that this isn't cheap.

If I lived in Florida, I would also bring a small, compact binder with all of the important emergency information, such as insurance policies, health care documents, credit card information, friends and family phone numbers, etc. This way, if the unspeakable happens and everything is wiped out, you have all your contact information on-hand. Another measure I'd take is to have a safety deposit box with all of this information. I'd also include some medicine, like Motrin, and personal items that women need monthly. Cash is another important item, as I would imagine that when the power is down you can't use ATMs or credit cards. I would pack my emergency kit so that I wouldn't have to spend time at a store when an evacuation has been ordered. The most important thing is to get out of harms way quickly, not stand in line at the store. Saltines and raisins are good enough on the run. Just take whatever fresh bread you have on hand. I like the freezer idea, keep bread in there to use after a hurricane strikes. It is remarkable how much food even a small chest freezer can store. Leave a good can opener in your glove compartment all year round. Do you have a supply of plywood on hand? Also, I'd store everything in a lidded box rather than a milk crate. Make a list of the contents of each box, taped to the top of the box, so that you will not worry when the time comes. Keep your cell phone charged, and buy a charger for your car. If this was me, I would pack a Bible and a Rosary. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2005 at 2:27PM
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Where I live, earthquakes are a bigger concern than hurricanes. The preparations are different because you usually have several days' warning before a hurricane. For example, when I lived on Long Island Sound, I didn't store water routinely. If there was the threat of a hurricane, I could begin to store tap water after the warnings began. Here, I keep several gallons of water on hand all the time.

After what happened the other night, I am considering keeping an overnight bag, with a change of clothes, toiletries, acetaminophen, and prescription medicines (which I would have to rotate every time I got a refill) in the car. Because of a problem in the next street over, the police department barricaded my street at 6 p.m., before I got home, and couldn't let anyone back in until after midnight. If it had lasted any longer I would have gone to a hotel.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2005 at 4:42PM
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I think your list of "necessities" are for those that are not evacuating, therefore you shouldn't need to store them at all if you're planning to get out of Dodge at the drop of a warning.

but what about when you come back? You may need to camp at your own house after everything is over, and there won't be any stuff there.

OKMoreh, the World Trade Cener attack and the blackout have both taught me a lesson: I keep a spare pair of sneakers under my desk at work. And I think we should all, esp. in this age of terrorism, but also because of less dramatic but more common things like gas leaks, etc., keep an emergency kit in the car. Maybe we should carry prescriptions somewhere easier to update (though that could be dangerous if you have or visit little kids--that's a common source of poisoning, the pills in grandma's handbag).

And we should all have plans for how to contact one another, etc., in the case of sudden closings of roads or neighborhoods.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 10:10AM
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Being prepared for emergencies is a bit of a bugaboo of mine. I over prepare sometimes I think. I don't really like to advertise what we have and what we have done and how we have prepared because you never know who else is reading this... but here goes - here are the basics of it.

We don't live in hurricane areas but I prepare for similar types of things. I have taken the idea of food, shelter, water to heart and covered that every which way I can-

I would strongly suggest you do some research before you do anything else.

There are a lot of sites out there that will offer advice. I might have some of those marked if you want to email me. There are a few good books as well about emergency preparedness.

One resource online I found provided a year supply of food you can purchase during the year- for example, it lists nuts after christmas when they go on sale and it will tell you buy x number of cans for each person in your family. IF you followed this plan at the end of a year you would have extra food that would feed your family for almost 6 months (on my estimate) with adding nothing. Another source I found provided 3 months in a box - three months worth of food that fit in a box under a waterbed.

As for food- consider some of those food tabs that are just like huge horse pills but you can live on them for a month if you have to. We bought several bottles of them and didn't find them expensive as they last for a long time and don't have to be replaced very often and provide peace of mind. They also take up very minimal space.

- I have a 72 hour kit in all our cars. It has basic food bars that are supposed to provide the calories you need in an emergency, water for 72 hours, a small first aid kid with bandaids, needle, thread etc, and some cash in fives, tens, and twenties. Emergency blankets (two for a person - one for a tent and one for a blanket).

- I have a 72 hour kit in the house that we can grab if that is all the warning we have. I figure between the 72 hour kit in a car and in my house we might be ok for three days if we had to be.

- I also have one in our camper in case something happens while we are camping and have to leave the camper for some reason. (see, I over plan a bit).

-- if you want a comprehensive list of what is in mine you can email me and I'll see if I can dig it out. But there are a ton of lists of suggested items online.

- I also have a garbage can (rubbermaid) full of stuff. It is just heavy that I can barely lift it. If I had to though, I could throw it in the car and run. It has more food and water. It has some more cash in it as well. It has some clothes and while I'm writing this I'm thinking I need to double check and make sure they still fit the kids. I figure based on the season all I need to grab if I have time to grab this as well as a 72 hour kit and run is coats.

- I have a camper and we have kept food in there as well. as we camp it gets switched around so I don't worry too much about the food. I also keep extra kid clothes and jackets in there for everyone.

We have an evacuation list by the phone in our family planner book. IF John is home he wn't think to look at it but I will. In there it says in order of importance what to grab 1. 72 hour kit, 2. garbage can for emergencies 3. hook up camper 4. put water in camper 5. grab papers and/or computer On the bottom of that same paper we have a contact list of people to call and leave messages at and/or addresses and places to meet if we get seperated. We have two copies so if we are at home and something happens we can each take one and get to work and have that in our pockets in case later we get seperated.

What I haven't done that I need to do is double check on my garbage can as mentioned above and make some copies of papers that we might need in the event of an emergency- insurance, bank statements, etc.

I try to look for things that do double duty- safety pins for example can pin together clothes if you need them to, be used as a hook for fishing, help you set up a tent etc. Basic tools for turning on and off gas etc. If you are very careful you can pack a lot in a small space.

It is very overwhelming at first when you begin thinking about it and working towards being prepared for worst case scenarios. However, when you are done, it's very comforting to know you are ok and your family will be ok if you can have any control over the situation.

Here are a few sites and you can pick and choose what you need from that:

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 12:01AM
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