I have lived in Florida most of my life. I am no stranger to hurricanes. In fact, I mark several milestones in my life by storms: I consumed my first legal drink by candlelight while watching palm trees dance in the wind during 2004’s Hurricane Charley, and I weathered 2016’s Hurricane Matthew while weeks away from giving birth to my own little hurricane (aka: Little Dude).
As we braced for the impact of record-breaking Hurricane Irma, however, I realized that disaster prep now carries an entirely new level of demand and anxiety. In college, I would grab a few extra snacks, make sure the liquor cabinet was full, and hunker down with my roomies and some board games. Now, I am responsible for another human being, once who has no clue what a hurricane is, and who deserves as little interruption from his normal routine as possible.
I know others in the path of the storm understand me, and I’m willing to bet those faced with other natural disasters in other parts of the country can relate as well.
Feeling the weight of my newfound responsibility compounded with ever-present mom-brain, I launched into a comprehensive over-preparation campaign. And it worked well for me.
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I began prepping as soon as the news announced Irma’s potential to be a dangerous, record-breaking storm. While I went about my day, I kept a running list of what we would need in my bullet journal.
The week before the storm hit, I started stocking up on hurricane goods and compiling everything I had jotted down in my bullet journal into printables, organized as follows (Select the link to access each printable.):
My immediate goal was being able to organize my thoughts and make sure we didn’t forget the essentials, particularly first aid or Little Dude supplies. I also wanted to ensure that my hard work carried into future hurricane seasons, allowing me to simply consult my checklists and restock goods at the start of the season, thereby avoiding the last-minute storm rush. I’ll let you know if it works next year!
I placed my completed checklists inside plastic page protectors and used a dry erase marker to check off items as I organized and stored them (I am debating switching to wet erase markers – the jury’s still out on that one). Then, the completed checklists were stashed with the items for quick reference, safe from light water damage. I also made a final printout with emergency numbers (because the last time I memorized a phone number I was in middle school) and the city’s disaster information details.
Working from an internet search of disaster prep, as well as personal experience, I tried to prepare as thoroughly as possible while also keeping in mind:
- Everyone’s definition of prepared is different.
- Preparation can turn into paranoia rather quickly.
- I don’t want my house to become a doomsday bunker.
- We typically have a fully-stocked pantry and extra toiletries at home, so I really only needed a “worst case scenario” stash – something to dip into if we couldn’t make it to the store or if we were forced to evacuate in a hurry.
I included a deck of cards and some pens/pencils and paper for entertainment. I especially love the hand-crank, multipurpose radio we picked up this season, and the extra portable charger for our cell phones – both useful for extended power loss. I also included a small to-do list with reminders for clearing outside debris, stashing patio furniture, and taking insurance pictures, among other items.
For toiletries and personal supplies, I again sought to cover the most ground with the fewest items, enabling us to shelter in place without access to the store, or to migrate to a shelter for several days if necessary.
I planned to place three days’ worth of clothes for each of us into a duffel bag once all of our laundry was done. That didn’t actually happen this time, although I did have a diaper bag stuffed and ready for Little Dude.
I stacked pillows and blankets for all of us into our safe space, so we could either cover ourselves for protection against debris or sleep at a shelter. The blankets came in handy just for sitting on during an uncomfortable two-hour tornado warning the night of the storm.
Finally, in a plastic bin I placed the bare essentials for personal hygiene and protection against the elements. I also stashed extra diapers and wipes. I strongly recommend storing all of your disaster prep items in or immediately next to your safe space: Little Dude needed a diaper change during the tornado warning, so I actually had to dip into my stash.
Whenever I buy hurricane supplies, I think about things that we like, even if we don’t consume them on a daily basis, but also items that will sustain us nutritionally until life returns to normal. Staples for my hurricane pantry include granola and power bars, fruit cups, canned veggies and beans, soups, peanut butter and crackers (they last longer than bread, and are easier to store), bottled water, and gatorade.
We are fortunate that Little Dude will eat most “adult” food, but I also included an extra tub of formula and a generous amount of pouches (I love the complete nutrition the blended varieties offer – almost like a smoothie). I rounded out the pantry collection with a can opener and paper products.
For the fist aid kit, I consulted my sister, who works in the medical field. I wanted to compile my own kit, rather than purchase a ready-made kit. I wanted to ensure we actually used most of the items in it, and be able to cycle out items as they neared expiration rather than purchase a new kit.
With the bare minimum supplies, we addressed pain relief, allergic reactions, burns, fever, cuts, scrapes, and disinfection. We also included scissors, needles, thread, and safety pins. I love having this extra kit in the house within easy reach of our main living area. Hurricane prep aside, I should have made this kit ages ago.
We still have some purchases that we need to make, such as extra gas containers and fire extinguishers. However, by the time the storm arrived, we had enough supplies tucked away and waiting for us that I was able to relax and focus on being as cozy, safe, and sound as possible with my family once the winds started blowing. This mommy definitely felt prepared.
What does your family do to prepare for a natural disaster?