With Tropical Depression Harvey approaching, people in the greater Houston area are being encouraged to “prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” to follow the well-worn expression heard during hurricane season.
Mercury Insurance has created a checklist of necessities and useful supplies to keep in your pantry, closet and vehicle to help you get through a severe storm.
1. Water. FEMA recommends keeping a three-day supply of water – 3 gallons of water per person – and we also recommend you keep water stocked in your vehicle in case you’re stranded away from home when disaster strikes. Survival pro-tip: purchasing a water-filtration device like water sanitation tabs or straw-style filters can be a worthwhile investment. Both can purify 1,000 liters of water and are available for less than $20.
2. Food. Stock at least three days worth of non-perishable food like beef jerky, peanut butter, nutrition bars, dried fruits, nuts and canned goods. Plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Be sure that canned goods are meant for single servings, as leftovers aren’t recommended if refrigeration isn’t available due to a power outage. Again, stash some food supplies in your vehicle in case you’re stranded away from home.
3. Batteries and light sources – If the electricity is out, batteries can be your best friend, powering flashlights, battery-powered lanterns, headlamps and radios. Lighters, matches and candles are also good to have on hand. Survival pro-tip: store batteries in your freezer to prolong life. Also, store lighters, candles and matches in a waterproof bag so they don’t get wet.
4. Emergency radio. A radio will help you stay abreast of the news and developing situation if the power goes out. Survival pro-tip: purchase a hand-crank radio -- no batteries needed.
5. Cellphone chargers. Bag up a couple of cellphone chargers -- and consider purchasing a solar charger in case the power is out.
6. Gasoline. If you own a generator, you’ll need fuel reserves. Store gas containers in a ventilated and shady enclosure and avoid low liquid levels because vapor can build up within the container. Tip: Gas has a shelf-life of five months, but adding a stabilizer will increase its life to eight months.
7. Camp stove and fuel. Camp stoves are great for when power or gas goes out. They’re fuel-efficient, easily storable and portable. Use them only outside, though.
8. Pet supplies. Prepare emergency supplies for pets, including water, food, medications, a leash, treats, comfort items and kennels in case your home becomes a hazard and you need to evacuate. Tip: some pets become anxious and upset in challenging circumstances. Antihistamine pills have been shown to calm cats and dogs, but before giving your pets any medication speak to your veterinarian first.
9. First aid kit and personal hygiene items. Pre-made first-aid kits contain the essentials, or you customize your needs. If family members require prescription medications, store back-up medication in the kit. Personal hygiene is imperative in emergency situations like hurricanes, floods and earthquakes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Keep extra toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, deodorant and hand sanitizer available. Tip: Get a package of wet wipes…they can be a game-changer.
10. Multi-tool. You never know when you’ll need a knife, screwdriver, spare can opener or scissors – they’re quite handy.