After Back-to-Back Category 5 Storms, Here’s What’s Essential to My Hurricane Kit

published Jun 17, 2021
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When you need sound advice, you go to the experts. Not sure if you need a jacket? Check The Weather Channel. For tips on how to get your oven-baked fries perfectly crispy, you turn to the team at our sister site, The Kitchn. And if you want to know how to function in the aftermath of a massive storm, you ask someone who’s been there before — like me. In September 2017, I rode out Hurricanes Irma and Maria in my home on Vieques, Puerto Rico, as the back-to-back Category 5 storms ravaged the island just two weeks apart. When the winds subsided, nearly all 3.5 million Puerto Ricans found themselves with no running water for weeks or more, and without stable electricity for much, much longer (in the case of Vieques, more than a year).

Those were strange times, my friends, but out of the most unwanted of circumstances comes the greatest knowledge, right? Chances are, no matter where you live, there’s some kind of weather-related event that could potentially leave you in the dark, too. Pre-storm panic shopping will ensure you have plenty of bottled water and non-perishable food (that you hope to never have to eat), but you’re gonna need much more than bottled water and canned spaghetti to keep you going! Below, I rounded up 10 items that I recommend ordering for your own storm kit ASAP. Take my been-there-done-that advice now, and stock up on what you need before you actually need it.

FYI: June 1 was the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, but it also marked the beginning of Community Month here at Apartment Therapy — and the timing couldn’t be better. Trust me when I tell you that, after a natural disaster, community is your most valuable resource. Taking care of each other is just as important as taking care of yourself, so when you’re adding the items below to your cart, consider tossing in a few extras for neighbors who might be in need.

1 / 10
Amazon
$22.99

I have all sorts of external power banks and battery packs in my house, but I especially love this one for storm prep because it's a multipurpose wonder. You can charge it via an electrical outlet or solar power, and it functions as a flashlight and a compass, too. Plus, it's super durable and weatherproof.

2 / 10
Amazon
$11.97

A first aid kit is a standard must-have all the time, but don't forget to make sure yours is fully stocked in advance of any potential emergencies. Without water and power, minor cuts and scrapes can become bigger problems and lead to serious infections, so a kit like this one — complete with several sizes of sterile bandages, antibiotic ointment, pain relievers, and more — can be a literal lifesaver.

3 / 10
Amazon
$9.99

When you don't have AC or running water, you start to feel very dirty very fast, so a little self-care makes a world of difference in feeling human. These body wipes from Goodwipes are basically a shower in a box. Each individually wrapped paraben- and alcohol-free towelette is infused with natural tea tree oil and other ingredients to leave you feeling fresh and clean(ish) again.

4 / 10
Amazon
$36.84
was $49.95

No matter how much bottled water you stock up on in advance, there's a chance you might run out — unless you have a LifeStraw. Aptly named, the company makes water filters that produce potable water from even the dirtiest of puddles. These clever devices remove 99.99 percent of bacteria, parasites, microplastics, silt, sand, and cloudiness from whatever water you find available. Game. Changer.

5 / 10
Amazon
$9.95

I don't care how tired you are — falling asleep can be a challenge when you're dirty, sweaty, and really (really!) hot. That's where these handy instant cold packs come in. If you're struggling to get your rest, follow the instructions on the box to activate a pack that you can put on your forehead, the back of your neck, or behind your knees. The cold only lasts for about 10 or so minutes, but that should be long enough to get you snoozing.

6 / 10
Amazon
$4.89
was $6.59

Without lamps and air flow, it helps to keep your door open during the day. But while you're letting in the light, you're also welcoming flying pests that are likely going to stick around into the night. These Off! bug repellant wipes ensure that you're protected from bites from mosquitos and other winged intruders.

7 / 10
Amazon
$26.98

With inflatable solar lights like these, your pitch-black nights can now be filled with great books, card games, and journaling. Leave them out during the day to charge up, then use them when the sun goes down. And when you don't need them, they deflate to almost completely flat for easy storage.

8 / 10
Amazon
$17.97

Since blackouts can happen at any time, I keep a battery-powered lantern or flashlight in every room in my apartment. That way, I always know where they are, and won't have to go feeling around in the dark without warning. Expert tip: Make sure you have extra batteries on hand, and test them all at least once a year to make sure they haven't gone bad.

9 / 10
Amazon
$23.98

When I first moved here, a friend told me to always have three things on hand: $200 in cash (which I would highly recommend because no power means no ATMs or credit card machines), a case of bottled water (a must-have for obvious reasons), and a 5-gallon container of gas (because gas pumps run on electricity, too). I keep three of these in constant rotation, and I use them to fill my car so that I always have new gas on hand for emergencies.

10 / 10
Amazon
$10.99
was $12.99

Your house might not have power, but your car still does! A converter like this one lets you charge up your devices using power wherever you can find it. Plus, you can take advantage of the AC while you wait. Trust me, a few minutes of cold air will feel like a day at the spa!

For more tips on hurricane and emergency preparedness, go to weather.gov/wrn/hurricane-preparedness.