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You've watched the news & seen the devastation hurricanes can inflict. Here are natural disaster preparation tips to get ready for anything! (updated 2017)

Be prepared for a hurricane – from a Floridian


You've watched the news & seen the devastation hurricanes can inflict. Here are natural disaster preparation tips to get ready for anything! (updated 2017)

Currently, here in Florida we are waiting for Hurricane Irma to make landfall on Sunday. June 1st is the start of hurricane season. You’ve watched the news.  You’ve seen the devastation hurricanes can inflict. Here are natural disaster preparation tips to help you get ready for anything.

In 2004, we here in Florida had not 1, not 2, but 4 hurricanes come roaring through in 6 weeks, 3 of them directly impacting us here in Tampa.

And we all know the impact hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, and Sandy had as well. Even tropical storms can cause flooding and tidal surges. I’ve lived in Florida most of my life, so I have first-hand experience in preparing for a storm.

So, I know you’re saying, “But, Pam, we don’t have hurricanes here where I live. Why should I read this?”

Here’s why:

Preparing for an emergency works just as well for those of you who will never experience a hurricane.  Because other types of natural disasters happen all over the world, you may find yourself in a similar scenario some day.  Think of wildfires, earthquakes, flooding, and blizzards. Homes damaged, no water, no electricity for days or even weeks.  So, please, take some time this week to start picking up some supplies, create your emergency binder, and get the peace of mind that goes along with doing as much as you can to prepare for an emergency.

Since hurricane season is from June 1st – November 30th, here are some great ideas to help you get prepared and deal with the aftermath when a hurricane or other natural disaster strikes. And the best time to prepare is NOW!

Last year (2016) when Hurricane Matthew prepared to strike Florida, people were panicking. We hadn’t had a hurricane landfall in over 10 years. The storm wasn’t going to hit the east coast of Florida until very early the next morning, but most gas stations were ALREADY out of gas.  Grocery store and lumber yard shelves were depleted, and the main roads were clogged with traffic jams as people tried to evacuate. The college where I work, in the middle of the state, shut down early the day before because we were under a tropical storm warning. Even Disney and the other theme parks CLOSED…

The most important piece of advice I can give to those who have not experienced a hurricane before is this:

If local authorities tell you to evacuate in the wake of an oncoming storm, do it!

As much as you love your home, it is just STUFF.  Take pictures of everything before you go, so you’ll have the memories (and a great record for your insurance report), take what you need, your family, and your pets, and GO!

Natural disaster preparation tips – gather your supplies NOW so you’ll be ready.

Hurricane season is from June 1st – November 30th, and even though we hadn’t had a hurricane come through for over 10 years, we Floridians take hurricane preparedness seriously.  But even if you don’t live in a hurricane-prone area, you probably still have times of severe weather and power outages, so these tips can help you be prepared as well.

For basic supplies like food and water, the National Hurricane Center recommends you have enough supplies to last for 7 days, so here are some very useful hurricane preparedness tips to get you ready!

How to stock up on food and water.

Non-perishable food.

Non-perishable foods are easy to store, so stock up when they are on sale!

It’s always a good idea to stock up beforehand because once people know a hurricane’s coming, everyone panics and runs to the grocery. You know what always goes first? Bread and water! So, start saving those water containers now and stock up on crackers, which last a lot longer than bread.
Canned meat
Canned fruit and vegetables
Canned soups and chili
Dried foods
Dried fruits and nuts
Crackers and cookies
Coffee, tea or drink boxes
Peanut butter and jelly
Powdered milk
Evaporated milk or Parmalat milk

And don’t forget a manual can opener (if you don’t have one, get one!)

(This post includes some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to see my full disclosure policy.)


Drinking water (at least a 7-day supply; 1 gallon per person per day – including pets).  There has been a HUGE run on water bottles for days in preparation for Irma. There is none left, but that’s okay.  If you plan ahead you don’t need to worry about that.

We use milk jugs.  I wash them out with soap and dry them out thoroughly. Then I put the cap back on and we string them up on a piece of rope and hang them underneath shelving in our garage.  They stay clean and out of the way.  When we hear about a hurricane threat, we can then fill them up and have them ready for use. You can also fill up your bathtub for water to use for washing hands or other non-potable uses. Iodine or water purification tablets or a device like LifeStraw  can be used, too.  Our house backs up to a pond, so those could be an option for us, as well.

Here is our supply of milk jugs, ready to go:

You've watched the news & seen the devastation hurricanes can inflict. Here are natural disaster preparation tips to get ready for anything! (updated 2017)

Here they are filled and ready to go as we wait for hurricane Irma.

You've watched the news & seen the devastation hurricanes can inflict. Here are natural disaster preparation tips to get ready for anything! (updated 2017)

What to do with food in the fridge.

Note: a quick way to make an ice pack for your cooler is to fill empty bread bags with ice and store them in your freezer so they are ready for use in an emergency.

Keep your freezer full (it will help it stay cold longer.  And DON’T open the doors.  Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full) – info from

Ways to cook food without electricity.

Propane gas (for grills)
Charcoal and lighter fluid
We also have sterno packs and a small portable camping stove.
Waterproof matches and lighter.

Here’s a nifty way to make a match container using a jelly jar and sandpaper.

Light sources.

Put all those decorative candles lying around your house to good use as well.  Just make sure they are not left unattended while lit!
In a pinch you can also add a couple of cans of Crisco or olive oil to your supplies.  They also makes a nice candle.  You should pick up lantern wicks to have on hand for the olive oil.

Here are directions on how to make an olive oil candle. 

Here’s a trick on how to put your water jugs to another use, too.

Fill it with water and stick a mini LED flashlight into the opening.  The light will diffuse through the water and make a bright lamp.

And don’t forget about the solar lights that line your sidewalk.

These are great because you can just stick them back outside during the day. I have seen these for as little as $1 a piece at Wal-Mart, so stock up! You can fill up a glass or vase with dirt or beans or rice and stick the spiked end into the jar so that the light stands upright.

Communication essentials.

Solar or battery-operated radio and clock
Weather radio
Spare batteries (2 spare sets for each device)

Here’s a nifty solar-powered lantern, cell charger, and radio all in one that can also use batteries.

Spare batteries can be easily stored in a tackle box.
You've watched the news & seen the devastation hurricanes can inflict. Here are natural disaster preparation tips to get ready for anything! (updated 2017) - store extra batteries in a tackle box.

Rechargeable battery packs for cell phones/tablets. This is what we have. Have it charged beforehand, and it will fully recharge your smartphone 3 times. We have one for each of our phones, and they stay charged up and ready to use for months.

There are also solar battery packs.  Because the good (?) thing after a hurricane blows through is that the sun immediately starts shining again.

Other supplies that make life better when there is no power or water.

Toilet paper and hygiene items
First aid kit (including bandages, antibiotic ointment, aloe, Tylenol and calamine lotion)
Bleach for sterilization (unscented with Hypochlorite the only active ingredient)
Disposable plates, glasses and utensils
Plastic garbage bags (both kitchen and yard waste sizes)

Home-made toilet (since your home one will not be usable unless you do this…)

Disinfectant and Clorox wipes
Soap, hand sanitizer and dish detergent
Insect repellent and sunscreen
Corded, non-electric phone (look at places like Goodwill if you no longer have one). This will work much better at communication than possible lost cell phone service.

Hurricane season is during the hottest, most humid part of the year, and it can be unbearably uncomfortable.  If you have a power source like a generator, you can actually make and run an air conditioner that will help cool down a room.

This one costs about $8 to build!

Here’s one that uses a solar panel – even better!

For the kiddos.

Books, magazines, games, toys, decks of cards.
Diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, and food for 7 days for infants.
Here are some more boredom-buster ideas that can be planned ahead.

For repairs.

Plastic sheeting / tarp
Duct and/or masking tape
Nails, rope, lumber, tools (hammer, multi-head screwdriver, saw, pliers)
Rain gear
Fire extinguisher
Fuel for generators (so fill up your mowers and a couple of gas cans) and cars (and I know you already know this, but I will remind you anyway.  DO NOT RUN A GENERATOR IN AN ENCLOSED SPACE – like in your home or garage – EVER!)

Don’t forget your pets!

You've watched the news & seen the devastation hurricanes can inflict. Here are natural disaster preparation tips to get ready for anything! (updated 2017)

Make sure you have enough water, food and any medications for them as well. And make sure you add their vaccination and microchip papers to your emergency binder, and be aware that many times emergency shelters will not accept pets, so find out NOW whether your local shelters do.  If not, make arrangements (with non-local family, etc.) to have a safe place for your pets should you need to evacuate.

Emergency binder of important papers.

This is an absolute MUST to gather all of your important papers before an emergency strikes and you need to leave quickly. Since I show you step-by-step, I have created this as a separate page.
Click below to see the steps on how to create your family binder. It also includes a free printable checklist of important documents.

How to create a grab and go emergency binder (including free printable checklist)

How to create an emergency binder that keeps all of your important papers together in one place so you can take it with you quickly in the event of an emergency such as a tornado, hurricane, fire, or flood. With free printable.

I know this is kind of a scary subject, but an emergency situation like a hurricane or other natural disaster can happen so quickly.  It will help you and your family tremendously during and after a disaster if you take some time now to prepare.

So, use these hurricane preparedness tips and check out great resources like the National Hurricane Center for more info or for those who are here in Florida, this is a great guide from our local Tampa news station, WFLA.

Thanks for hanging in there with me to the end of this very LONG post.

I really want you and your family to be prepared for an emergency.  So, I hope you have found these tips helpful.  Are there other things you do to prepare for emergencies in your area?  Please let me know, and I will be happy to update this post.  Because preparation is always key.

Stay safe!

~ Pam

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Author: Pam Hoepner

Hi I’m Pam, a seasoned homemaker with a husband, 3 teenagers, and a houseful of pets. I’m also a librarian and professional organizer (The Economical Organizer) who loves to share my hard-earned homemaking, DIY and organizing skills with others so you too can have a Life, Creatively Organized.

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