Hurricane Irene: Time to Review Your Emergency Kit

HurricaneWell thank you, Hurricane Irene…  Nothing like a hurricane to make two Miami natives turn from procrastinators to doers!  JavaDad is a Hurricane Andrew survivor and though I had already left my hometown, the anguish of being hundreds of miles away while my family went days without power makes me know that when Hurricane Irene is headed to Northern Virginia, it’s time to prepare.

I’ve written a piece on The DC Moms, where I am the News and Politics Editor, about other things to do to get ready, but here is my time-honed comprehensive list of what you should think about in putting together your emergency kit.  With this area’s bizarre weather (remember “Thundersnow?”  “Snowpocalypse?”), it never hurts to have an emergency kit on hand at all times.  If you are a camper, you probably already have many of these supplies on hand.  Put these items in one place where you can quickly put your hands on them in the dark should the power go out:

  • Flashlights/lanterns.  Do not use propane lanterns indoors.
  • A radio.  Particularly an all-weather radio that allows you to hear any alerts.
  • Batteries for the above, and you may want to consider having a hand-crank version of at least one flashlight and radio.
  • Non-perishable food.  Several days worth as power could be out for a while.
  • Can opener.  Be sure it is non-electric.   
  • Water.  The rule of thumb is a gallon per person per day, at least three days worth — remember you need this for drinking, food prep, and sanitation (flushing toilets, cleaning up, etc.)
  • Pet supplies for several days.  Food, litter, leashes, carriers, etc.  Remember to include them in your water count.  Also, consider what you would do if you had to go to a shelter and it didn’t accept pets.  What is your plan?
  • Cash.  Often power goes out and we quickly become a cash economy once cash registers and ATM machines go down.
  • A hard-corded phone.  If you still use traditional phone service, even when the power is out, it will typically work, so have an old-fashioned corded phone on hand rather than a battery-operated cordless phone.
  • Comfort items for the kids.  It’s easy to forget that little ones are going to need familiar things. Make sure you have anything you may need for them – blankets, bottles, formula, pacifiers, lovies, stuffed animals, non-electronic games or books, etc.  Especially if you may have to beat a hasty retreat out of the house.  Get things gathered in one place.
  • Medications.  If possible, have an extra stash, or at least before a pending emergency like this one, gather it in one place so it is easy to find if you have to leave the house.
  • Sanitary items.  Diapers, feminine need products and the like.
  • Garbage bags and paper towels. 
  • Bleach and medicine dropper.  Plain bleach (not scented, color safe, or with additional cleaners), used for cleaning as well as treating for water.  Formulas per FEMA:
    • Disinfectant: Nine parts water to one part bleach.
    • Drinking water: 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water.   (Let stand 30 minutes.)  There are additional instructions here and here.  I’ve never had to purify water using bleach.
  • First aid kit. 
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • Duct tape.  Duct tape is just a miracle worker for just about everything from temporarily fixing a broken pipe to uses in first aid to holding together broken pieces of wood.
  • Wet wipes.  Every mom knows these are part of daily life — more so when life goes awry.
  • Whistle.  In case you need help and need to attract attention to yourself.
  • Simple tool kit including pliers and wrench.  In case you need to shut off utilities such as water or gas.
  • Local maps.  We all depend on our phones and GPS — but if we are instructed to evacuate or go to a shelter and our electronic devices fail us, sometimes it’s back to the paper maps!
  • Lighter or waterproof matches in a waterproof container.
  • Firewood and firestarter (more for winter).
  • Blankets.
  • Set of dry clothes and dry shoes for everyone, in bags.
  • Important household documents, sealed in a watertight container.  FEMA has an online kit  with guidance.
  • A plan for cooking.  If power is out for several days, peanut butter sandwiches may become tiresome.  How will you cook those cans of soup?  Do you have a gas stove?  (Keep in mind, most gas stoves have an electric starter, be sure to have a lighter on hand and only use if you are CERTAIN there is not a gas leak.)  You can heat up food on a grill or camping stove OUTDOORS, but make sure you have the necessary fuel (propane or charcoal) and a plan for cleaning up the pots and pans (i.e. camping style dunk and clean wash station!)  For this reason, I also lay in a good supply of paper plates, cups, napkins and plastic utensils.
  • Non-electronic entertainment for the whole family.  This may sound so simple, but some families have forgotten how to entertain themselves without the Nintendos, smart phones and Wiis!  Know where some good books, card games, board games and other simple ways to entertain youselves together and separately are.  Especially if you may have to go to another location.
  • Any comfort items you may need for yourself.  For me, that includes a stash of Diet Coke.  For some, this may include having a little bit of wine on hand — though I advocate keeping your wits about you, a glass of wine may not be a bad idea after hours and hours of no electricity.

Don’t forget to check the link on The DC Moms for additional hurricane prepping tips.  And let me know if you have additional items in your emergency kit!  Stay safe, and check in here and on the Caffeine and a Prayer page to let me know how you fare!

Photo credit: Microsoft Image Gallery

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  1. Hope everyone is safe and sound. Getting prepared is really important, that list is very useful.


  1. […] time to gather them up so they are easy to grab at a moment’s notice.  Check out my comprehensive list on my […]