The Hurricane Checklist

If a hurricane is on its way, here's your critical To Do list

What to do when a hurricane is on its way: Leave when mandated!

Hurricane season is upon us. If you're reading this, one is probably on its way.

For too many, they didn't have time to prepare the easy way — ordering supplies off of Amazon, for instance. Instead they waited hours in line, or went without. So, if you've got internet and electricity and warmth right now, think about having none of those things. Then think about that whole ounce of prevention motto.


  1. Shelter. Decide if you should stay or go to someplace safer. If there's a mandated evacuation notice: LEAVE.

  2. Water! Fill up all the containers in the house AND the bathtub. If you've got time, buy critical backup containers like a 55-gallon drum for the garage or big spaces, or 3.5-gallon containers that easily stack up under your bed or in a closet.

  3. Power & lights. Plug in your phones, rechargeable batteries, power packs, and travel chargers. And make sure you have lots of backup flashlights and, preferably, battery- and/or solar- lanterns.

  4. Food. Take inventory of what you've got. Get to the grocery store early, if at all possible. (Even better, stock up on long-lasting food beforehand.)

  5. Gas! On that grocery run, stop and fill up your gas tank. Fill up other gasoline containers, too, if you've got them.

  6. Plan! Talk to loved ones about their plans and locations. Better to know now because cellphone coverage may go down. Besides, storms love company. A good opportunity to snuggle.

  7. Secure your house or apartment. Put away anything outside. If you've got storm shutters, put them up.

  8. Stock up! Do you still have time? Buy or order critical supplies like lanterns, flashlights, and backup food. See the suggested Essential Hurricane Gear List below.

EXPANDED INFORMATION — What to do now if a hurricane is on the way

Okay, let's dive a bit deeper.

1. Leave or stay?

If you live in a coastal area, you need to pre-plan an evacuation route. Find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation area, and familiarize yourself with hurricane evacuation routes. Listen in closely to local news and alerts via your cell phone. If there is a mandatory evacuation in your area, leave, baby, leave! But, really, we suggest getting out early whenever possible. It's very wise to figure out likely places before a storm approaches, whether it's the in-laws in the Midwest or, perhaps more enticingly, Napa Valley. (Maybe another beach location isn't the best idea in hurricane season.) Take a few vacation days and use those handy airline miles and get yourself in a place away from that affected coast. Trust us, your friends won't think you're foolish — they'll just be jealous of the Facebook pics of you doing something better than waiting out a terrible storm.

Take a few vacation days and use those handy airline miles and get yourself away. Friends will be jealous of the Facebook pics of you doing something better than waiting out a terrible storm.

Sometimes you may not have that option. You'll need to keep abreast of the weather and mandatory evacuations. Your cell will likely get updates, BUT cell phone coverage and electricity will often go out. We highly suggest investing in a radio (like this one) that tunes into the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards network, which is a nationwide network of radio stations that give updates from the nearest National Weather Service office.

If you haven't gotten clear out of town, you might consider community shelters or FEMA safe rooms. Otherwise, according to Ready.gov (which has a great page on hurricanes here), go to a "small, interior, windowless room or hallway on the lowest floor that is not subject to flooding." And, "if trapped in a building by flooding, go to the highest level of the building. Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising flood water."

2. Water needs.

Yeah, it may seem like there's water everywhere, especially as the sea swells and buckets of the stuff fall onto your head. But it's truly important to remember that when the lights go out, so will your water sources. And even when the water recedes, it may take days or weeks (or longer) to get electricity and water back.

Water may be falling from the sky, but you'll stilll want to store it away (Photo by Matteo Catanese on Unsplash)

Bottled water is fine (as much as you can store, actually)... But if you've got time, go to Amazon or REI and get extra and long-lasting water storage solutions like this 55-gallon drum — which is good for houses with storage — or WaterBrick 3.5-gallon containers, which are better for apartments and smaller spaces. But, we highly recommend also getting camp-style filters, which will allow you to turn dirty water into clean water.

Our go-to company is LifeStraw, which sell filters that will remove out all kinds of impurities. The Flex straw eliminates bacteria and even some lead, while the Mission is better for family use, as its bag holds up to 3.1 gallons. Either way, these are key for times when you run out of stored water.


3. Power play.

We can pretty much guarantee that when it comes to a big storm, at least some of us will lose power. So plug in your phones. But also consider in investing in potent power packs like the options available from Goal Zero. We like the 150-watt Yeti.

Lights will also be key. Dependable flashlights are important, but even more key may be lanterns that run for many, many hours. That way you can eat and read in the evening hours more easily. The Goal Zero Lighthouse is solar powered and also has a hand crank, and can also juice up your cell. (For lots more info on battery and power options, see Preparation Concierge's dedicated advice and gear section on Lights, Power, & Warmth.)  

4. Food Fight.

You don't want to get in one — when a storm hits, there's always that last-minute scramble at local supermarkets. Worse, those shelves may remain bare for weeks, because any disruption in truck delivery service to supermarkets can have a ripple effect. Consider stocking up on easy to prepare staples like oatmeal, energy bars, and peanut butter. Mountain House sells emergency food that is surprisingly tasty — and can prepared in the packages themselves, just add boiling water. The 14-day supply kit does just what is promised: It's good for one person for two weeks, and makes a good investment. We also have a BUNCH of suggestions for quickie emergency food such as RX bars; the kind of stuff you don't have to think about preparing.

Do remember: When you are stocking up, consider that your electricity may be out. What source does your stove run off of? Even boiling water may become an issue. For emergency food and cooking advice, go here.

5. Got gas?

Get some! Fill up all your vehicles as soon as any storm is forecast. You don't want to be in one of those gas lines. Misery personified. So as soon as the news comes on talking about Hurricane Florence and a chance it may affect your area — even if you're 100 miles inland, go get gasoline now!!!

6. Make a plan with the family.

Talk to your family and come up with a comprehensive emergency plan. Imagine scenarios such as the cell network going down. (A very likely scenario in many disaster situations.) Who picks up the kids? Where will you meet if you can't reach your own home? Pick a second location nearby if your family can't meet at home. Then figure out where your away shelter will be — and how you'll reach that location. Imagine that some bridges or freeways might be closed or deadlocked with traffic. And even discuss how you might get to that away shelter by foot, as a family. Decide all this stuff now, over the kitchen table, so you won't be left wondering at some future date — at the point when you wish you had discussed the important stuff.

7. Secure your stuff.

Your home is vulnerable. Try to reduce damage from high winds or flooding. The Red Cross suggests: 1. Protect windows with permanent storm shutters or pre-cut marine plywood to fit over doors and windows. 2. Removing items that can blow away, such as lawn furniture, toys, gardening tools, and trash cans. Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts to prevent flooding and unnecessary pressure on the awnings. 3. Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances. 4. Move valuables to higher floors of your home.

8. Our suggestions for the Essential Hurricane Gear List.

This is an expanded list of the hurricane-related supplies mentioned above, plus some key additions.

Please note: Links lead to Amazon. Obviously storms can lead to significant delays in deliveries. If the storm is close, go instead to local stores! You can't rely on mail or delivery sources in true emergencies. Hence the earlier you prepare, the better!!! And once you've got the right gear, you'll be better prepared for the NEXT hurricane!


Water storage:

While it might seem like you can simply buy a bunch of bottled water from the grocery store and be done with it, that doesn't really work. (Though it's better than nothing.) Bottled water evaporates in storage and isn't particularly durable. You need to be able to store large amounts of water in a stackable fashion (especially in apartments or small houses), and a LOT of water in big barrels whenever possible.


Bottom line: The easiest way to store water in small spaces like apartments. Each carries 3.5 gallons in a hardy, stackable, container. A small-space must-have.

55 gallon water barrel

Bottom line: A LOT of water in one place. Store in a garage or similar place, and when you REALLY need water in an emergency, you'll have it. (Do NOT place barrel directly on a concrete floor. Rather put it up on two-by-fours or a roller. Chemicals in concrete can leach into the barrel and water itself.)

Water filters:

Your stored water is eventually going to run out. (Bummer.) That means you may need to collect rainwater or gather water from streams, rivers, or lakes. That water will not be safe to drink. While you can boil it, or dose it with a few drops of unscented chlorine, one of the best solutions will be to use a camp-style filter. More than any other item, we recommend these key products from LifeStraw.

LifeStraw Flex Water Filter

Bottom line: The Flex filter even takes out some heavy minerals. Works as a straw, in a water bottle, or even a hydration pack. Fits anywhere, and means you have access to clean water anywhere. Not as ideal for longterm use.

LifeStraw Mission Water Purification System

Bottom line: The Mission will provide clean water in bountiful and long-lasting supplies. This LifeStraw is great for longterm use, as it will clean 4,700 gallons of water.

Emergency Food

What do you have in your cupboards right now? Enough to get by for weeks? Two? And how much of it is highly transportable? The goal here is to lay some food stores aside for those times when need food that doesn't take much preparation, and is quick and easy. This isn't long-term food. These are the types of stuff that will get you by right now. These are also good options for your all-important go bag.

Mountain House 14-day Emergency Kit

Bottom line: 14 days of reliable food for one person. Just add boiling water. Add it directly into the packet, even. And the food ain't bad!

OMeals Instant Food Package

Bottom line: A ready-to-eat, hot meal, for which you need no outside heating source. It heats up within its own reactive bag using a bespoke technology. The absolute simplest way to get a warm meal.

Quickie food!

The kinds of bars and snacks that serve as a kind of supplements to actual meals. After all, a hurricane isn't the time to worry about veggies, or high calories. You'll want and need those high calories in an emergency situation.

A few suggestions include: RXBAR Whole Food Protein Bar, 12 pack. These are actually super tasty, if very dense. We love the blueberry, maple sea salt, and coffee chocolate flavors. That stand-by, the Clif Bar, and for those with nut or gluten allergies, a vegan option is That’s It Fruit Bars, which are sweet but tasty. And...Peanut butter! You can't beat it for ease, the ability to spread it on most anything, and longevity. We like Skippy Super Chunk,but whatever works for you. Get four big bottles.

Emergency Lighting and Power

Flashlights and lanterns and candles!

5.11 EDC PL 2AAA

Bottom line: You need lots of small, reliable flashlights — in the house, car, purse, and bags. 5.11 makes the best lights in the business, as far as we're concerned. The PL 2AAA is brand new and not available yet on Amazon. The 5.11 Tactical 5.11 Unisex TMT PLx Penlight is a slightly older model that we still really like.

Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lantern

Bottom line: Buy this lantern. When the lights go out at home, you'll be glad to have it (or, better, them).

Candlelife Emergency Candles

Bottom line: Long-lasting light from a non-battery source. Each burns 100 hours. And you'll want both some good lighters and a whole bunch of backup matches in a waterproof container.

Extra power:

Goal Zero Yeti 150 Power Station

The Yeti 150 is a lead acid battery that provides up to 80 watts of continuous power. Think of this as a travel charger on steroids.

Health & Communications

Emergency Radio:

NOAA Weather Radio

Bottom line: When your cellphone (and everything else on the electrical grid) goes down, a radio is how you will get news about the outside world. This one tunes in to the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards network, which is a nationwide network of radio stations that give updates from the nearest National Weather Service office.

First aid kits: You'll want all the backup medical supplies than you can get. Imagine if you can't simply run to the local CVS or Walgreens or — much worse — hospital. We like a big first aid kit with lots of stuff, and even then experts suggest additions like this list we've compiled.

Red Cross Large First Aid Kit

Bottom line: Fundamentals for first aid.

Adventure Medical Kits Daytripper First-Aid Kit

Bottom line: A reasonably small but versatile first-aid kit appropriate for go-bag and vehicle.

About us: Preparation Concierge is devoted to emergency planning and disaster preparation. We offer users level 101 information and advice, and a smartly curated list of gear, food, and water solutions. We take a particular interest in urban and suburban areas — these populations are especially fragile and susceptible to disasters, and are often the most unprepared.

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