- Bug Out Plan
- Water Storage and Purification
- Shelf-Stable Food
- Window Protection
- Off-Grid Cooking
- Battery Lighting
Bug Out Plan
The first thing that you need to survive a hurricane is a good bug-out plan. Hurricanes are incredibly powerful storms that can cause both severe winds and flooding. If authorities are telling you that the storm is going to be bad and you need to get out, listen to them.
Beyond listening to authorities, you should have your own “red lines” that will determine whether or not you and your family need to leave. This could involve the storm’s predicted path, its projected strength, how close you are to the coast, and many other things. Having these red lines established ahead of time can give you the confidence to leave before other people do, giving your trip out of town a better chance of success.
One of the most important parts of bugging out is having a clear destination and multiple routes to get there. You should have paper maps with alternative routes marked and additional fuel and supplies in case the trip takes longer than expected.
When bugging out, you should bring certain items with you. These include financial and personal documents, food, water, sleeping bags, and more. It is always a good idea to write down what you will need to take with you and have that list displayed somewhere that is easy to find.
I did a bug-out list for a previous article, How to Develop a Complete Bug Out Plan, that has many of the items you would need to take with you along with many blank lines and check boxes for additional things you may want to add. You can find that checklist by clicking here.
Practicing your bug out will help you and your family know what to do. It will also reduce the chance of you leaving something behind.
The next thing that you need to survive a hurricane is water. This is the most important utility that you’re likely to lose during a storm and not having it can be deadly.
I like to have water stored in a few different ways. First, my family keeps some bottled water on hand for daily convenience and in case of emergencies. Since they are grab-and-go, they are also easy to load into the car if necessary. Having at least three 40-packs on hand is a good minimum, however, it could be insufficient if you don’t have other water storage methods as well.
We also have several portable water containers. Most contain between 5 and 7 gallons of water each. This is our second level of water storage and is used during boil water notices and when we lose water utilities. This happened during the 2021 Texas Ice Storm when much of the state experienced water utility problems. I like to store a month’s worth of water stored in this way.
My favorite kind of portable water container is the Reliance Aquatainer. It holds 7 gallons and has an included spigot that fits inside of the container when not in use. You can place it on the edge of a counter to dispense water or over the edge of your sink for cleaning.
The Scepter Military Water Can holds 5 gallons and is a good option if you need something a little more durable. It is the same thing strapped to Humvees in warzones and can stand up to a lot of abuse. However, they’re more expensive and don’t include a spigot.
In addition to having plenty of water, you should also be able to purify additional water as needed. It should be noted, however, that these methods are not suitable for salt water.
Berkey water purifiers are one of the most popular options on the market today. They are gravity-powered countertop filters that can remove a variety of contaminants. Berkey claims that its Black Berkey filtering elements can remove bacteria, protozoa, viruses, and chemicals. They require no power to operate and should give you clean water provided that you have fresh water (not salt water) to put into it.
Although a Berkey should be able to remove anything you need it to, I tend to err on the side of caution. Hurricanes can cause widespread flooding, which can result in severe contamination of water sources. Because of this, I prefer to use a three-step process when purifying water such as this. You can learn how to do this by clicking here.
The next thing that you need to survive a hurricane is plenty of shelf-stable food. This can include dry goods like pasta and rice, canned goods, and even freeze-dried camping or survival food. It’s cheaper to stockpile dried goods than it is almost any other food. However, canned goods are inexpensive as well.
When storing food in preparation for a hurricane, try to have at least a 3-week supply. If you’re a prepper, you’ll probably want much more. However, it’s very reasonable to think that it could take a few weeks for things to return to normal after a powerful storm, even if your neighborhood doesn’t get the worst of it. 3 weeks’ worth of food should be considered the minimum amount for anyone who lives near the coast, whether they are a prepper or not.
Anything that you store in preparation for a hurricane should also require very little preparation. While many canned goods can be eaten straight from the can, most dry goods and freeze-dried foods will need at least some preparation. Because of this, you should have a way to boil water and heat up your food, which I’ll cover in the next section.
Some foods, like peanut butter, beef jerky, and canned fruit can be eaten as is and don’t require any preparation. They are especially useful if you cannot afford something like a camp stove. However, peanut butter and beef jerky may not last as long as some of the other foods mentioned, so make sure to rotate them.
Any time that you are using flame-based cooking methods indoors, you definitely need to have a good fire extinguisher nearby. The same is true if you are using candles or oil lamps as well. Power outages frequently are accompanied by an increase in housefires because of people using these kinds of items. Also, make sure that you have plenty of batteries for your smoke alarms.
The next thing that you need to survive a hurricane is a way to cook off-grid. Propane or butane camp stoves are popular choices for this. They are relatively inexpensive, and the fuel is easy to find as long as you don’t wait too long to pick it up. You can use them to cook anything that you would normally prepare on your household stovetop.
The main hazard to using these kinds of stoves is that many of them are not rated as indoor-safe. They can produce carbon monoxide, which can be deadly. I have found that it is a little easier to find indoor-safe butane stoves for a reasonable price than it is to find indoor-safe propane stoves.
Having a safe way to cook indoors is essential since you will need to stay indoors, at least through the duration of the storm. Alcohol stoves, such as this one are relatively safe to use indoors and pretty inexpensive. However, be sure to have a carbon monoxide detector nearby and adequate ventilation whenever using an open flame.
The next thing that you need to survive a hurricane is window protection. Broken glass can be deadly, and having a big gaping hole in your wall can increase the amount of water damage your home will experience.
The most basic way to protect your windows is with plywood. I strongly recommend getting the plywood that you will need ahead of time and cutting pieces to fit your windows. This will make the process much faster when installing them and prevent you from falling victim to supply issues.
A better but more expensive way to protect your windows is to install storm shutters on them. These are custom-made to your windows and should be installed professionally. It is important to note, however, that some are much better than others. Rolling shutters are some of the toughest and don’t detract too much from the looks of your home.
In addition to window protection, it is also a good idea to stock up on a few different sizes of tarps. You can use them to cover windows that do get damaged and cover holes in your roof if safe to do so. Doing this can help reduce the amount of overall damage to your home.
The next thing that you need to survive a hurricane is a way to generate power. The primary options for this are standby generators, traditional gas generators, and solar generators.
Standby generators are designed to turn on automatically when your power goes out. Most can run a large portion of, if not all of, the circuits in your home. They are convenient and will result in the smallest amount of disruption to your life should you experience a power outage.
The main disadvantage to standby generators is that they are vulnerable to utility failures. They are usually fueled by natural gas. This means that if your natural gas utility company experiences problems, your generator could cease to operate. Widescale power outages could cause other utilities such as natural gas and water to go out as well.
Traditional gas generators are another option. These can be purchased in many different sizes and types. I recommend a mid-size generator such as the Champion Dual-Fuel 3800 that I reviewed previously. You can see that article by clicking here.
Mid-size generators won’t be able to power your whole house, but they can keep food in your freezer from spoiling and allow you to run lights. They are more fuel-efficient than larger generators, which will allow you to run them for longer with whatever fuel you have on hand.
Solar generators consist of a power station and solar panels. The power station can power devices for as long as its batteries last and then it will need to be recharged. Solar generators are available in many different sizes, each with different capabilities.
It is also important to understand that you will likely be unable to run a traditional gas generator or recharge a solar generator during the storm. Severe winds and rain can damage both types of generators.
Because of this, it’s a good idea to have a good stockpile of rechargeable batteries. These can be rechargeable AA/AAAs like those made by Eneloop, or additional proprietary batteries for devices like flashlights and power tools.
Having spare batteries and devices such as LED lanterns and battery-operated fans will allow you to have lighting and some comfort even when you aren’t able to use your main generator. Having battery banks, like this one from Anker will help you keep your cell phone and other USB devices charged.
The next thing that you need to survive a hurricane is battery-powered lighting. This can include flashlights, headlamps, lanterns, and even job site lights produced by power tool companies. However, anything that you choose should use LEDs rather than traditional bulbs.
LEDs are energy efficient and much brighter than older kinds of bulbs.