Assemble your disaster supply kit: Day 4 of Hurricane Preparedness Week

Gathering your supplies early saves time and money if a storm approaches

By Rebecca Barry - Meteorologist

Hurricane Preparedness Week

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 6-12) is your time to prepare for the potential of a tropical storm or hurricane.

Wednesday's focus is on your disaster supply kit- if you assemble what you need early in the season, you will save precious time and even money if a storm threatens the First Coast.

You’re going to need supplies not just to get through the storm but for the potentially lengthy and unpleasant aftermath. Have enough non-perishable food, water and medicine to last each person in your family a minimum of one week. Electricity and water could be out for at least that long.

You’ll need extra cash, a battery-powered radio and flashlights. Many of us have cell phones, and they all run on batteries. You’re going to need a portable, crank or solar powered USB charger.

What to plan for

You'll need to plan for two situations: Remaining in your home after a disaster or evacuating to a safer location.  

Have a three-day supply of food and water on hand -- plan for one gallon of water per person per day and food that won't spoil.

Keep a manual can opener and emergency tools including a fire extinguisher, battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of batteries. 

Disaster supply checklist

Be sure to gather the following items to ensure your family's basic comfort and well-being in case of evacuation. 

  • Cash -- Banks and ATMs may not be open or available for extended periods. 
  • Water -- at least one gallon per person per day for three to seven days, plus water for pets. 
  • Food -- at least enough for three to seven days, including: Non-perishable packaged or canned food and juices, food for infants and the elderly, snack food, non-electric can opener, vitamins, paper plates, plastic utensils.  
  • Radio -- battery powered and NOAA weather radio with extra batteries.
  • Blankets, pillows etc.  
  • Clothing -- seasonal, rain gear/ sturdy shoes. 
  • First Aid Kit -- plus medicines, prescription drugs. 
  • Special items -- for babies and the elderly.  
  • Toiletries -- hygiene items, moisture wipes, sanitizer.
  • Flashlight and batteries.  
  • Keys.  
  • Toys, books, games.
  • Pet care items, proper identification, immunization records, ample food and water, medicine, a carrier or cage, leash.

Store important documents in a fire and water proof container.

  • Insurance papers
  • Medical records
  • Bank account numbers
  • Social Security cards
  • Deeds or mortgages
  • Birth and marriage certificates
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Recent tax returns
  • Wills 

Keep your kit fresh

Remember to replace stored food and water every six months, keep a supply of fresh batteries on hand and keep your most important up-to-date family papers in a fire and water proof container.

The importance of water

Stocking an emergency water supply should be one of your top priorities so you will have enough water on hand for yourself and your family. 

While individual needs will vary depending on age, physical condition, activity, diet and climate, a normally active person needs at least two quarts of drinking water daily. Children, nursing mothers and people who are ill need more water.

Very hot temperatures can also double the amount of water needed. Because you will also need water for sanitary purposes, and possibly for cooking, you should store at least one gallon of water per person per day. 

When storing water, use thoroughly washed plastic, fiberglass or enamel-lined containers. Don't use containers that can break, such as glass bottles. Never use a container that has held toxic substances. Camping supply stores offer a variety of appropriate containers.

Plastic containers, like soda bottles, are best. Seal your water containers tightly, label them and store them in a cool, dark place. It is important to change stored water every six months.

Pet owners

Get a Kit of pet emergency supplies - just as you do with your family’s emergency supply kit, think first about the basics for survival, particularly food
and water.

  • Food: Keep at least three days of food in an airtight, waterproof container.
  •  Water: Store at least three days of water specifically for your pets, in addition to water you need for yourself and your family.
  • Medicines and medical records: Keep an extra supply of medicines your pet takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container.
  •  First aid kit: Talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet’s emergency medical needs. Most kits should include cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Include a pet first aid reference book.
  •  Collar with ID tag, harness or leash: Your pet should wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification at all times. Include a backup leash, collar and ID tag in your pet’s emergency supply kit.
  •  Important documents: Place copies of your pet’s registration information, adoption papers, vaccination documents and medical records in a clean plastic bag or waterproof container and also add them to your kit.
  • Crate or other pet carrier: If you need to evacuate in an emergency situation take your pets and animals with you, provided that it is practical to do so.
  • Sanitation: Include pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach to provide for your pet’s sanitation needs. You can use bleach as a disinfectant (dilute nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to purify water. Use 8 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water, stir well and let it stand for 30 minutes before use. Do not use scented or color safe bleaches or those with added cleaners.
  •  A picture of you and your pet together: If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. Include detailed information about species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
  • Familiar items: Put favorite toys, treats or bedding in your kit. Familiar items can help reduce stress for your pet.

Consider two kits. In one, put everything your pets will need to stay where you are and make it on your own.The other should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you and your pets have to get away. 

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