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Building a hurricane kit

May 20, 2015

It’s never too early to put together the essential supplies you need for a hurricane kit. As a general guideline, you should gather enough supplies for you and your family to survive for at least three days without assistance.

FEMA’s website cautions that basic services (electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and phones) may not be operational for several days or even weeks. Your hurricane kit should contain items to help you endure these outages.

Bill Jackson’s Shop for Adventure supplied many of the items featured in the Tampa Bay Times’ 2015 hurricane guide, and our staff is ready to assist you in determining which options best fit your needs for hurricane preparedness.

The following list is not meant to be all-inclusive, and you should take your own family’s specific needs into consideration, but here are some key things to consider when constructing your hurricane kit:


Start with a water-resistant, easily portable bin to store your gear and food. Some people use several large plastic storage bins, while others opt to use one 5-gallon bucket for every member of the family, including pets. Yet another option is to use large coolers (preferably ones with wheels) that can store food as well if you are fortunate enough to get ice. Make sure the lid on each bin or bucket can be secured to keep things dry, and put a label on the outside listing the contents or the name of the family member.



This is a top priority. You should have, or be prepared to gather, at least one gallon of water, per person, per day. Folding or collapsible jugs will fit nicely into your storage container until you need to fill them. If you are unsure about whether your water is safe to drink, use water purifying tablets or a water filtration system to treat your water.


Gather enough food to feed your family for at least three days. Freeze-dried, dehydrated and canned foods take up less room in your kit, but make sure to check the expiration dates on the package labels every few months to ensure your supply is good to go. Get foods high in calories and protein that will supply you with enough energy to weather an ordeal.


Put together a basic camp kitchen: cooking and eating utensils, matches and/or lighter, portable stove, pots, pans, can opener and mess kits. Remember to have enough fuel for the stove and any cooking oils and spices.


Get a battery-operated or hand-crank weather radio so you can monitor emergency channels and keep updated on important information. Keep extra batteries on hand.


Hygiene and comfort

Above all, start your hurricane kit with a first-aid kit suitable for your size family and any necessary medications. Also stock up on biodegradable wipes, toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes and wash cloths. A pillow and sleeping bag or blanket (maybe a cot or inflatable mattress) will make sleeping easier if you are not at home, while sunscreen and insect repellent also may come in handy. A portable, battery-operated fan will bring welcome relief from the heat.


Pack some lightweight, quick-drying clothes and another, warmer layer just in case. Rain gear such as rainsuits and ponchos are a must.


Light always improves the mood, especially in hard times. Battery-operated or solar-powered lanterns, headlights and headlamps are a must in your hurricane kit. You may want to invest in a solar-charging device.

Fix-it items

Trash bags can have multiple uses beyond the obvious. Stash some duct tape and rope in with your knife and multitool.