How to prepare your family for a hurricane ahead of the 2023 season

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Some disasters strike without any warning, and family members may not all be in the same place when a hurricane hits. How will you get in touch with each other? Where will you meet? What if your neighborhood is being evacuated? It’s important to make a plan now so that you will know what to do, how to find each other and how to communicate in an emergency.

  • Pick the same person for each family member to call or email, so that everyone has a single point of contact. It might be easier to reach someone who’s out of town or outside the state.
  • Program that contact person as “ICE” (“In Case of Emergency”) in your cell phone. If you’re hurt, emergency personnel often will check your ICE listings to reach someone you know. Notify the person you’ve listed that he or she is your emergency contact.
  • Be sure every member of your family knows the emergency contact’s phone number and has a cell phone or a prepaid phone card to call that person.
  • Text, don’t talk, unless it’s an emergency. It may be easier to text and you won’t tie up phone lines for emergency workers. Text messages can often get around network disruptions when phone calls can’t.
  • Keep your family’s contact info and meeting spot location in your backpack, wallet, cell phone or taped inside your school notebook.
  • Designate someone from outside the area to be the primary contact for out-of-town relatives and friends to check on your well-being. Following a hurricane, landlines and cell phones may be out of service for extended periods.


When faced with hazardous weather conditions, it’s important to be prepared and stay aware. A communication plan is only part of what you’ll need to outline with your family when faced with a hurricane. Please get everybody together soon so that you can map out a plan for how to respond to a natural disaster. Here are some ideas:

  • Discuss the type of hazards that could affect your family.
  • Know your home’s vulnerability to storm dangers.
  • Decide your evacuation route and destination. Plan to go to family or friends who live in safer areas. Use county evacuation shelters only as a last resort.
  • Outline an alternate plan in case your friends are out of town, your evacuation route is flooded or other unforeseen circumstances arise.
  • Put together a family communication plan as outlined above.
  • Plan what you will do with your pets if you need to evacuate.
  • Review your homeowners and flood insurance policies and keep them with you in a secure, waterproof place. The impending arrival of a storm is the wrong time to check if you have the proper insurance.
  • Register any individuals with special needs with your county’s emergency management office.
  • Make a list of prescription medicines that you will need to refill and take with you.
  • Stock non-perishable emergency supplies and food.
  • Prepare a disaster supply kit.


You will need a plan for your pets, too. Consider two different pet emergency kits:

  • In one, put everything your pets will need to stay where you are.
  • The other should be a lightweight smaller version to use if you and your pets have to evacuate.
  • For more information and a detailed list of disaster preparedness tips, go to


Supplies are a critical part of every family’s health and safety. They should be gathered well in advance of hurricane season each year. It pays to be prepared.

Once a storm is imminent, time to shop will be limited. If supplies are even available, you will have to search for them. Many Southwest Florida residents faced shortages of plywood, batteries, flashlights, water, ice, generators and other storm necessities during recent hurricane seasons.

Each time a storm was predicted to make landfall near Southwest Florida, shopping lines were long, shelves were bare and stress levels were high. Supplies can be divided into several categories, but the essentials should be gathered and kept easily accessible throughout the hurricane season.


These are the supplies you should always have on hand. Be sure to place the items that you will most likely need for an evacuation in an easy-to-carry container.

  • A minimum of one gallon of water per person per day. Keep at least a three-day supply per person on hand.
  • Additional water for food preparation and sanitation.
  • Bags of ice.
  • Partially fill plastic one-liter or larger soft drink bottles with water and place them in the freezer. The bottles will freeze without cracking. If the power goes out, the frozen water will help keep the freezer cool. When the ice melts, the water will be drinkable.
  • Fill up your car’s gas tank, as well as portable gas canisters. Make sure those canisters are stored safely.
  • Keep cash handy. Banks may not be open. ATMs may not be accessible. Debit cards and credit cards may not be viable if power is lost.


If you have family members with special requirements, such as infants and elderly or disabled persons, remember to include items and supplies that may be unique to their special situation. That may mean setting aside anything from extra diapers and baby formula to special medications and a spare walker.


  • Baby formula
  • Bread
  • Crackers
  • Canned fruits
  • Canned juice
  • Canned meats
  • Canned vegetables
  • Dry cereal
  • Instant coffee and tea
  • Peanut butter
  • Quick-energy snacks
  • Ready-to-eat soups


  • First-aid kit for your home. For how to stock your kit, consult the American Red Cross at
  • First-aid kit for your car
  • Insulin
  • Denture needs
  • Prescription drugs (minimum two-week supply)
  • A supply of aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
  • Contact lenses and supplies
  • Eyeglasses, along with a spare pair, if you have one
  • Heart and high blood pressure medicine
  • Insect repellent
  • Itch-relief cream


  • Important telephone numbers
  • Record of bank account numbers
  • Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
  • Record of credit card account numbers and companies
  • Inventory of valuable household goods—with pictures, if possible
  • Copy of will, insurance policies, deeds, stocks and bonds
  • Copy of passports, social security cards and immunization records


  • Disinfectant
  • Toilet paper, towelettes, paper towels
  • Soap and liquid detergent
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Household chlorine bleach
  • Large bucket or trash can with lid for storing water to flush toilets

Tools & Supplies

  • Battery-operated radio or TV
  • Flashlight and lanterns
  • Extra batteries and extra bulbs
  • Lighter or matches for your grill
  • Antenna for your TV
  • Extension cords (heavy-duty and three-pronged)
  • Manual can opener/utility knife
  • Plastic sheeting/tarps
  • Duct tape
  • Generator
  • Gas cans
  • Old towels for cleanup
  • Paper cups, plates and utensils
  • Plastic trash bags
  • Full propane tank
  • Charcoal and lighter fluid
  • Camp stove
  • Sterno
  • Thermos for hot food
  • Coolers with ice for cold food
  • Tree saw for cutting fallen limbs
  • Hand tools: knife, axe, pliers, screwdrivers, wrench
  • Hammer and nails
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Fix-a-flat
  • Mops, buckets and cleaning supplies

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