Hurricane Guide for families with children

Since we moved to southwest Florida two years ago we hadn’t experienced any hurricanes that effected our area until Hurricane Irma came through in Sept. 2017. This was my first big storm with kids and my husband’s first hurricane experience ever which made things a little more nerve-racking and stressful. We felt a little unprepared.

There were so many decisions we had to make and we kept waiting for the next weather forecast and the next news report to try to decide if we should evacuate or if we should stay. Plus, there was a lot to do around the house to prepare. Thankfully, the hurricane moves slower than most natural disasters so you do have time to prepare. However, I didn’t know what to buy, I didn’t know what to bring in from outside, and I didn’t know how the kids were going to do through all of this so I still felt the pressure of being unprepared for this big storm.

Now that we have gone through a hurricane ourselves and have experienced the stress of all the decision making, grocery store runs, gas shortages, Home Depot stops, and more, I decided to put together a little guide on how to prepare families with children for a hurricane. You don’t have to feel as stressed and unprepared as I did. Here are a few tips to get you through:

What to buy for a hurricane for families with kids:

  1. Chips and Snacks
    Listen, a hurricane is no time to try to stick to a diet…I know from experience. I was doing so well on my low-carb diet until Hurricane Irma hit. We picked up all kinds of snacks and we ate and ate and ate. Trust me, buy the snacks!
  2. Muffins and Cereal
    Dry breakfast foods that don’t have to be warmed up or cooked on a stove. If you lose power there will be no way to cook those.
  3. Plastic cups
  4. Plastic Silverware
  5. Paper plates and bowls
    You will not want to do dishes while waiting for the storm, and then after the storm if your power goes out you won’t be able to do dishes. Buy lots of plastic dishware!
  6. Water
  7. Drinks OTHER THAN water
    It was so crazy going down the water isle and it was completely cleared. NO WATER! This made us think we just needed to buy water because that’s what everyone else was doing. We finally found a couple packages, but then once we were hunkering down for the hurricane we didn’t even want to drink water. We wanted soda and I only had one 2-liter which didn’t last too long. Trust me- buy drinks that you like that are not water: Gatorade, Soda, juices, etc.
  8. Juice Boxes for the Kids
    You will want something simple for the kids to drink and juice boxes are the way to go. We went through a lot of juice boxes!
  9. Canned goods
    Soup, Spaghetti O’s, canned fruit, etc. If you lose power, buy canned goods so you can eat without having to heat anything up.
  10. A Non-Electric Can Opener
  11. Bubbles
    You may be wondering why in the world you would need to buy bubbles, but before the storm hit we were soaking up as much outside time that we could so we sat out on the porch and did bubbles and we did chalk. Then after the hurricane came through and the power went off we needed something to do so we did bubbles and chalk again!
  12. bubbles

  13. Chalk
  14. Puzzles
  15. Books
  16. Games
    Keep the kids busy with games, puzzles, books, and toys that will keep them occupied for a duration of time.
  17. A generator
    Once the power goes out you will need a generator if you want to have it plugged into an AC window unit or your refrigerator. Buy ahead of time (or even black Friday) to get a good deal.
  18. 2-Stroke Oil for your generator
    This varies depending on what type of generator you have.
  19. Gas
    Gas is hard to find! People begin to panic and run out and buy all of the gas. So anytime you see some pre-hurricane and post-hurricane, stop and buy it! Also, don’t forget to fill those gas cans for your generator in case you lose power.
  20. Flashlights
  21. Batteries
  22. Candles
    When the power goes out during the storm you will need light inside your house. Flashlights, candles, and batteries are all really important to have close by. We also had these neat battery-operated lights that we hung in the kitchen and living room that did a great job lighting up the rooms.
  23. Back-Up Battery Packs for your cell phone
  24. Ice
  25. Toilet paper
  26. Paper Towels
  27. Bread
  28. Peanut Butter
  29. Milk
    1/2 gallon so if you lose power you don’t have to throw too much out.
  30. Air Mattress
    If you have to quickly evacuate or if you have people staying with you for the hurricane.
  31. Battery Operated Radio
    If you lose power and television communication you will need a radio to let you know what is going on.

How to get your house ready for the hurricane:

  1. Board up
    If there is a strong hurricane headed your way it is highly recommended that you board up your home. You can buy hurricane shutters from various companies that sell specialized shutter (but you would need to do this in advance or maybe in off-season)
  2. Get your generator ready
    Make sure your generator is working ahead of time. A lot of people (including us) lost power and then couldn’t get generators working.
  3. Bring trash cans in
    We brought our trash cans into the garage so they didn’t fly around and toss trash everywhere.
  4. Bring in lawn chairs, furniture and anything that could blow away
  5. Flip your trampoline over and put heavy bricks or weights on it
  6. Don’t put a pool cover on
    The pool cover will be blown around in the wind and you will likely have to replace it, so I would suggest not putting it on for the storm and putting it away where it is safe.
  7. Unplug computers and important things that could blow out if the power goes out
  8. Expect to lose power
    Just assume you will lose power and plan accordingly. (See notes below on how to plan for power outages).
  9. Have a safe room plan
    Find one room or closet that all four walls are inside the house so you can hide in there if there is an emergency during the storm. For us, it is our closet.
  10. Have an evacuation plan
    Seriously, we changed our minds on whether we should evacuate or not like 25 times! I was humming that song, “should I stay or should I go” for like 3 days. We had three plans though! Our first plan was to Georgia where my father-in-law lives, our second plan was to Orlando with a friend, and our 3rd plan was to the east coast with cousins. Definitely have a plan. You don’t have to decide right away about evacuating, but the sooner you make your decision the better. There were gas shortages and lots of traffic which made evacuating difficult. Have a plan and make a decision as quickly as possible.
  11. Know which zone you live in
    As the hurricane got closer to us they were doing mandatory evacuations of various zones in our county. We had to know that we were zone C but we didn’t and had to look it up. Now we know for the next one. Look up your zone ahead of time! We did make the decision to evacuate for Hurricane Irma because of the mandatory evacuation zones very close to us. Watch the news for updates because even if you decide to stick the storm out at home, they may make your zone evacuate for safety reasons.
  12. Fill your bathtub with water
    This is what we were told on the news to do so we could use that water to flush the toilet, however we were still able to flush the toilet when the power went out so we never used that bathtub water.
  13. Put important papers and pictures somewhere safe
    We put pictures and important paperwork in ziplock bags and put them in our fireproof box. Whatever we couldn’t fit inside the fireproof box we placed in our safe room. I heard mixed reviews about putting paperwork in the dishwasher- although that seems like such a good idea, we decided to stick the important thing in the room we would be hiding in if things got really bad.

What to pack for Hurricane evacuation:

  1. Water
    All that water you got to prepare—bring it with you! You will need it where you are staying during evacuation too.
  2. Games
    Keep the kids busy with games, puzzles, books, and toys that will keep them occupied for a duration of time.
  3. Clothes for all seasons and then some
    We ran out of clothes because we were in such a hurry when we left. I suggest packing extra clothes just in case and sweatshirts in case the place you are staying at is a little chilly.
  4. Drinks
  5. Juice Boxes
  6. A Snack Bag for the Car
  7. A Snack Bag for the place you will be staying
  8. Diapers
  9. A small thing of laundry detergent
  10. Battery packs to charge your phones
  11. Car chargers to charge your phones
  12. Important Jewelry
  13. Important papers and pictures (not too many- only the really important things)
  14. Laptops and Ipads

How to prepare for the power going out:

  1. Fill Sippy Cups with Water and leave in the fridge
    I only had one clean sippy cup and after the power went out we were under a boil water notice so I couldn’t even clean the other sippy cups. To prepare for no power and no water, I would fill several sippy cups with water and keep them in the fridge to use for several days.
  2. Fill snack bags with water to use for ice
  3. Buy groceries that don’t need to be heated up
  4. Grill as much as you can from your freezer before it goes bad
  5. Use a generator
  6. Fill gas cans up ahead of time
  7. Keep drills and board equipment handy
    Once the hurricane has passed by and you have lost power, you will want to open those windows up to get some air flowing. Keep the drills and equipment you used to put the boards over your doors and window handy so you can quickly take them down to get air circulating through your house again.

These are tips and ideas on how to get ready for a hurricane in southwest Florida. I hope this helps you prepare! What are some things you do to prepare? Leave a note in the comments!





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