Florida is in full preparation mode. The gas stations are empty. The water is gone off the shelves. Hotels have no vacancies. Rumors are it will take days to drive out of Florida from where we are — if we could even find the gas to go. I looked up flights and they don’t exist.
I’m no stranger to hurricane warnings and storms after living on the west coast of Florida for 13 years, but as this category 5 brews in the Caribbean, I’m nervous as options narrow. I got out my hurricane checklist I’ve added to over the years to prepare my family and share with you.
A heavy feeling comes over me as gather my lists’ items and think of the current situation in Texas. My own experience with storms adds to my sense gravity. There were a string of hurricanes when I moved here in 2004 and they have made a lasting impact on me. I didn’t know many people as a newcomer and lived by myself when Hurricane Wilma struck. I evacuated and when I came back to my little apartment, I didn’t realize the only way included walking through the flooding waters. I accidentally got up to my chest in the water, carrying my belongings over my head. I made it to a road and a man pulled up beside me. “Can I give you a ride?” he asked. I would normally say no, but his eyes were kind and I was chilled, tired and shaken. So I sat down in the passenger seat of the kind man’s truck, soaking it with water, and he drove me as close to my apartment as he could get.
I made it to my apartment to find no electricity and no water, but I was safe. At night there were no street lights and the sky was black. I tried to keep my imagination under control. I had filled the bathtub with water before I left, so I scooped water from it into the back of the toilet so it would flush. I ate things from cans and finished off my loaf of bread. In the following days, still with out electricity and water, the grocery store was closed. I was running out of water. Then one morning I heard someone on a loud speaker outside announcing free bottled water. I ran out of my apartment, down the stairs and a man with the Red Cross and a smile handed me a whole case of bottled water out of the back of a truck! I get tears in my eyes thinking about it. “Thank you! Thank you!” I cried. Yes, I needed the water, but their kindness — taking their time and resources to help others — was what overwhelmed me. I had never been on the receiving end of an outreach and it touched my heart forever. I felt less alone.
Some are devastated by natural disasters, some become heroes, but we all are impacted by them.
I’ve since learned few tricks from some longtime Floridans. We are warned about hurricanes a few days in advance so there is some time to prepare, hopefully. I still fill the bathtubs with water. In addition, I now fill milk jugs with water and freeze them to keep the fridge cold so food won’t spoil right away. We have a battery-powered radio, lanterns and flashlights. And you’ll never be so grateful for instant coffee!
Here is my full, printable hurricane checklist:
Checklist images: flashlight | batteries | can opener | cooler | waterproof/fireproof document folder | radio (affiliate links)
Palm tree image credit: Freepik
Hurricane food and menu
I have three little kids now, so I can’t just eat peaches out of a jar for dinner as I did those years ago. Some of these ingredients only have a week shelf-life or so, but don’t need refrigeration. The only one that needs refrigeration are the hard-boiled eggs that should be in the cooler. This is my plan:
Healthy emergency grocery list
- canned tuna
- canned cannelloni beans
- canned black beans
- canned soup
- canned chili
- canned green beans
- jar of salsa
- peanut or almond butter
- firm avocados
- fruit pouches
- dried fruit
- dehydrated mashed potatoes
- tortilla chips
- instant oatmeal
- energy bars
- instant coffee
- paper plates, bowls, cups, silverware
- paper towel
Make ahead of time
- Cook up bacon. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated and will add a much-needed umph to your beans and crackers!
- Hard boil your eggs and leave in shells. (Keep in the cooler if electricity goes off.)
- Sauté a diced onion to add to meals later.
- Make a loaf of PB&Js and freeze them.
- hard-boiled egg and piece of bacon
- dry cereal and fruit
- instant oatmeal with dried fruit
- tortilla rolled with peanut butter, banana and honey
- crackers and peanut butter
- energy bar
- piece of fruit
- seeds and dried fruit
- crackers and bean dip (mashed beans, salt, olive oil)
- chips and salsa
- cucumber slices
- bowl: cannelloni beans, onion, bacon, avocado and tuna
- PB&J and tortilla chips
- canned soup with crackers
- canned chili, green beans with bacon bits, crackers
- tortilla wrapped with rice with black beans, avocado and salsa
- bowl: rice with sliced hard-boiled eggs, beans of choice, diced cucumber, bacon
See the FDA’s regulations for keeping food safe if you have questions. And if you still don’t know, when in doubt, throw it out. It’s not worth getting sick.
National Hurricane Center
When a storm is approaching it’s hard to know what is sensationalism and what is real. As I was complaining about this to my friend Sasha, she suggested I get updates from the National Hurricane Center. This is what the news stations use anyway and then you can decide if you’d like the commentary or not. There is also an app. She said she looks mainly at these:
- Experimental Arrival Time of Winds
- Warnings/Cone Interactive Map
I have heard a few more clever things as we prepare for this hurricane that are new to me. I haven’t tried these yet, but thought I would pass them on!
- Close the interior doors to your house to help with pressure.
- Keep valuables in your dishwasher because it is sealed, waterproof and attached to your cabinets so it won’t go anywhere.
- Put your car in neutral and push it back so it barely touches the garage door. Put it back in park. This helps with wind impact.
- If your electricity and wifi go out, update your voicemail to keep family and friends informed.
15 thoughts on “Hurricane preparation checklist and emergency grocery list”
We’re dealing with bad air quality and ash from nearby fires (SW WA state); it’s such a strange combination of disasters right now. What a moving story from your previous experience; keeping you guys and all the hurricane areas in my prayers!
I’m sorry to hear about the fires, Melanie. You’re right, such a strange combination of disasters. Thank you much for your prayers. You have mine for the fires as well! How sad.
Love your blog! I always stay up late after the babies are asleep and read through your posts. They are very helpful and super informative! Wishing you all safety during and after the hurricane!
Claudette, thank you so much for taking a minute to write me this sweet note. It’s truly so encouraging to me! Thank you for your well wishes!
Your family, you and those in the surrounding hurricane area are in my prayers. May the Lord surround y’all, God bless you.
Oh thank you, Lori! We’ll take and appreciate those prayers and blessings.
Hi Kate and Family!
Praying for you and your loved ones. May God protect you all.
Luis and family
I have been praying for anyone in the path of Irma. As soon as I saw news it was developing, my heart just sank. I am continuing to pray for you all.
I am in North Houston and it was just overwhelming to even begin to think of. I have a 5 year son old with autism (mostly nonverbal), a 2.5 year old daughter, and an almost 1 year old son. I know the anxiety a storm like this brings and all the sleepless nights praying, trying not to worry. We made it through the storm safe and I thank God continually for that. I had such guilt for not being impacted as much as so many others and we spent 2 days gathering items to donate. We couldn’t leave our house as flood waters were blocking all the streets around us, but I couldn’t just sit and do nothing either. I wanted to help. I needed to keep my mind busy as we were still unsure if the flood waters being released would flood our area or not. I can tell you though, my faith has grown even more and my desire to be closer to God is forefront. There is such a surrender, at least for me, because I try so hard to control the things around me to feel secure. This event forced me to let go of that control and trust that God would take care of us, regardless of what would come. That was HARD, but I am more aware of the necessity of doing so now. Even though I’m still working on accepting what could have happened, or what any world event might bring, I’m focusing more on God and not my own ability to “save” everyone.
Praying for you and your family and everyone in Irma’s path. I know God will be there with you through it all, as He was with my family!
Thank you so much for your words of wisdom, Jessica! They give me goosebumps. I hate to think what you have been through, thank you for sharing some of it with me. What a beautiful testament of faith, letting go of self control and resting in the fact that God is sovereign! Your inspiration could not have come at a better time. And thank you for your prayers!!! I, too, am praying for Texas’ continued recovery.
He “will” cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler, Psalms 91:4, you and the family are all in my thoughts and prayers as well as all the people in Florida and surrounding area. No matter what, you trust and believe, all shall be well with you. I am so grateful we do not have any tornadoes, hurricanes etc., here alas, one day is one day that will bring “this” nation to their knees, may the Lord be gracious to those whom are blameless in His sight! For all the people go well with the blessings and divine protection of the Lord. I believe to hear an astonishing good report. Much love and kind regards…..
How did you do? Did you make it through ok?
Just checking in for an update.. hope you made it through everything safe!
Thank you to everyone who as asked for an evacuation update. Sorry to keep you in suspense, we don’t have much reception! We’re all safe, headed back home. It’s been one heck of a week. Decided to have a good attitude and looking forward to getting back to help.
Glad you’re all safe! This is a great list.
This is a small/relatively non consequential tip, but we were without power for a day or so due to Irma, and I normally use the garbage disposal when cleaning dishes, but when the power is out it doesn’t work of course, so I was glad to have a sink/drain strainer, because otherwise things could get pretty smelly in the drain/while the A/C is out especially.
This is an excellent point. The sink strainer and plug are suddenly invaluable with no electricity! Thank you, Amy!