Prepare for Hurricane Irma! Your ‘buy’ list

Disaster Preparedness

The whole idea behind being prepared for a natural disaster (tornado, hurricanes, flooding etc) is to be able to endure the loss of modern day conveniences (electricity, water, loss of mobility) that make living and surviving relatively easy. I mean, we, as US citizens, don’t even think about how to “survive” any more unless impending doom is near. With the recent devastation in  parts of Texas (Hurricane Harvey), the anticipation of Hurricane Irma has people on edge and in near panic mode.

So let’s mitigate some of our fears and prepare accordingly.


The Essentials

Water – This is a must have. Buy it. Tons of it. The general rule here is 1 gallon per person per day. If you’re a family of four with 2 dogs, that counts as 6 people. Six gallons per day times the number of days you may be without water. A safe estimate is at least a one week supply; that’s 42 gallons of water in this case. You can buy 5 gallon jugs for convenience.

As a backup, a water purification device like LifeStraw is a great option. My team gets these every time we deploy overseas. I also keep unscented household bleach to use for water purification. Just a few drops per gallon is all that’s needed. See here for instructions.


Food – in the military we have access to MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) but civilian versions of these can be bought at any Bass Pro, Cabela’s, or local camping/fishing store. They last seemingly forever in storage and taste pretty good too.

As a backup, have lots of canned foods. Remember, you may not have electricity to cook so buy accordingly. And, of course, don’t forget a can opener.


Personal Hygiene – soap, toilet paper or flush-able wipes, feminine supplies, diapers, I could go on (but I won’t).


Tools – work gloves, hammer, saw, crowbar, staple gun. The idea here is you may need to make reinforcements to your home or remove/cut debris that has fallen either on your home or near it preventing access in or out.


First aid and medications – ensure you can cover basic medical needs like cuts/bleeding, scrapes, fever, diarrhea, and pain. If you take prescribed medications daily, please stock up on them (especially for the elderly).

*For first aid kits, I include at a minimum the following:

– Scissors, Steri-Strips, cold packs, ibuprofen, Tylenol, Off, Kerlix (gauze bandage rolls), ace wraps, Benadryl, Epipens, Bacitracin, an anti-diarrheal, head lamp or flashlight, thermometer, SAM splints, slings (a few triangular pieces of cloth), eye drops, tweezers, alcohol pads and Betadine.

Note: I’m not saying you should have all of these items or only these items. The items here are what I would have available to me at a minimum as an Army medic and feel absolutely comfortable using. It’s also what I’d advise my sibling if I were not around and feel assured with the idea they could employ these items safely without harming the patient. (For something I would not offer — I carry CricKits and IV kits but would not suggest it in this case since they can cause serious harm if not carefully employed).




  • Know CPR.
  • Have cash.
  • Candles, batteries, more flashlights, blankets.
  • Know evacuation routes (just in case). Know where the shelters are located.
  • Know your communication plan. Radios/phones/email.
  • Have a list of important contacts: family, friends, neighbors.
  • Have all your important paperwork waterproofed or take pictures or scan/email them to your inbox/cloud.
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • Cell phone chargers and battery backups.
  • Generator (nice to have )


Most importantly, be safe! If all of this seems overwhelming, perhaps vacating the area may be best. Stay with family or friends in a nearby state safely away from the intended path of the storm.


If you would like more information on how to best prepare, see the links down below.


Red Cross  great resource with a variety of action plans depending on the emergency you’re prepping for

Great Hurricane info from

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

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