Thanks to modern meteorological technology, residents of coastal areas often have well over 24 hours warning before the landfall of a hurricane or tropical storm. But that time can disappear quickly, especially if you need to reinforce your home or expect to get stuck in an evacuation traffic jam. Don’t waste even more time making last-minute runs for basic supplies like batteries, canned goods and bottled water, which are frequently in short supply in the run-up to a major storm. Learn what to pack for a hurricane and build a kit today so that you’ll be ready for the first day of hurricane season.
If you have children or a new baby in the house, preparing for a hurricane is even more crucial. Newborn babies cannot survive on water alone, let alone the canned food us adults eat during emergencies. It’s a scary proposition to consider, but building a kit for your kids should put your mind at ease when severe weather threatens.
While building your hurricane prep kit for the entire family, add these items to make sure every person in the home is ready – and be sure to pack enough for five days.
Hurricane Kits for Babies
Babies are high maintenance already, even when the family isn’t in survival mode. Don’t worry about the toys for now – just get the necessities:
Just like each adult, a baby needs one gallon of water per day for up to five days. Water is used to make formula, for drinking, and for sanitation. If you get into a pickle and don’t have access to fresh running water to clean baby up after feeding or changing, you’ll want water to keep your little one clean and sanitized.
Jarred food is preserved by using a high-pressure sealing method. Just like you are stashing away canned food for the adults in your home, you need to include some for the wee one, too.
Pick up three to five jars of baby food per day for up to five days. Be sure to include a variety of flavors, and don’t forget fruit and vegetable jars.
As in, a full box of diapers. Nothing sounds worse than being caught without fresh diapers. A dirty diaper is uncomfortable for both the baby and for those around her.
Toss in a few disposable plastic grocery store bags. It’s best to keep your dirty diapers contained rather than floating around a car, shelter, or wherever you’re staying temporarily to keep safe.
Powdered Formula and Clean Bottles
Sometimes even breastfeeding mothers are unable to breastfeed for whatever reason (it could be the stress of the situation!). Be sure you have enough scoops of powdered formula to last up to five days. Include five clean bottles and nipples in your kit.
Pick up a package or two of disposable wipes for your kit. You’ll likely use them for more than just baby’s bottom, as they’ll come in handy for wiping up messes or cleaning your hands since you might not have access to running water.
Since babies run through multiple changes of clothes on a regular day, pack at least six extra changes of dry clothing beyond what your child normally wears in a five-day period. And make sure the clothes are the right size or larger, as it’s easier to put babies in clothes that are slightly bigger than in clothes that are too small. Pack them away in large resealable bags to keep them extra dry.
This includes your doctor’s phone number, health insurance information, and any other important numbers. Write down this information on a piece of paper and place it in a safe, dry place. You might run out of battery on your cell phone, and cellular towers don’t always work during and after a disaster, preventing you from accessing this important information digitally.
This one is tough to plan for because medical needs can change from day to day, but if your baby is currently taking any prescription medication, take it with you when evacuating your home.
It’s best to have items like Infant Tylenol and Benadryl on hand, rather than scrambling for it in an emergency.
If you can, use the old receiving blankets you brought home from the hospital. These come in handy for keeping baby warm as well as for use as an emergency burp cloth or in other messy cleanup situations.
We can think of a million reasons you might need toilet paper, so just pack a few and thank us later.
Hurricane Kits for Kids
Packing for kids is similar to packing for babies, but you should definitely consider entertainment options, since older children get fussy — and dirty — in different ways.
The same advice about important phone numbers and prescription medication from before applies here, and you must include one gallon of water per child per day for five days.
Pack those scruffy old clothes, especially clothing they don’t usually wear, into large bags for the older kids. When dirty and wet, even their least favorite clothes are better than nothing. Toss in a few extra socks and underwear, too.
Kid-Friendly Canned Foods
If your ten-year-old doesn’t like green beans in the real world, don’t expect him to eat those green beans in your hurricane preparedness kit. Pick up some items for the kids, like canned ravioli, mac-n-cheese, fruit roll-ups for snacks, and some bags of trail mix.
Fun and Games
Toss in a pack of cards, a board game, some blank paper with markers, and a jump rope for the kids. Save them from going stir crazy by giving them a few simple games to use their imaginations and pass the time. If you end up at a shelter, then the activities will come in handy to help your kids make friends.
Talking to Your Kids About Hurricanes
Whether you shelter in place or evacuate the area, the experience of going through a hurricane can be scary for everyone, especially children. So while you’re planning ahead by assembling your kid-friendly emergency kits, you should also take some time to prepare your children by talking about what hurricanes are and why preparation is important.
As you think about how to prepare for a hurricane for kids in your family, consider how mature your children are and how experienced they are with severe weather. You know your children better than anyone, so you’re best equipped to choose the right words to inform your kids about hurricanes in a way that makes them feel safer.
If you have older children, you may want to involve them in creating a family emergency communication plan. This is especially important when children are at an age where they may be doing activities independently, because a strong communication plan ensures that the whole family can shelter in place or evacuate together. Once you have communication and evacuation plans in place, it may be helpful and reassuring to your children to rehearse those plans so that everyone feels prepared in the event of a real weather emergency.