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How to prepare for a hurricane: Important lessons I've learned

Having experienced hurricanes in Puerto Rico while growing up, here’s what one New York City-based Shopping writer recommends to keep on hand during hurricane season.
man with portable phone charger and first aid kit. Prepare for hurricanes and tropical storms with a checklist of items like a portable generator, first aid kit, routers, hand sanitizer, board games, flashlights and more.
Prepare for hurricane season with these items, from first aid kits to board games. Getty Images; Welly

It is currently peak hurricane season in the Atlantic, according to the National Hurricane Center: Hurricane season generally begins in June for the Atlantic and mid-May for the Eastern Pacific region, lasting until the end of November. The varying severity of hurricanes and tropical storms can bring forth damage, of course, from a few knocked-down trees to heftier property damage and loss of electricity, as we saw this year with Tropical Storm Isaias and as some are experiencing currently with Hurricane Sally. Depending on where you live, you may already have hurricane-first measures in place such as storm shutters on your windows. But what else do you need? The CDC notes that supplies like hand sanitizer and face masks should be added to hurricane preparedness lists to account for the current coronavirus pandemic, especially for instances of evacuation.

Having grown up in Puerto Rico, I've experienced several hurricanes and tropical storms of various magnitudes. I was living in Boston when Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017, and witnessed the aftermath months later when I returned home to Guaynabo. The three-year anniversary of Maria this September sees the island still recovering from the lasting effects of the storm. Now living in New York City and so away from home during hurricane season (and amidst a global pandemic that recently brought forth travel restrictions between New York and Puerto Rico), I’m especially mindful of what another hurricane could mean.

Although there is no way to prevent a hurricane or tropical storm altogether, there are ways to better prepare for their effects. Checking your insurance, solidifying an evacuation plan and planning for your pet’s safety are just a few things you should consider. Of course, it is also important to have certain essentials on hand to weather the storm, from basics like food and water to medical equipment like first aid kits. Through the years I’ve spent preparing for hurricanes that came — and ones that never arrived — I’ve learned about some of the most important precautions to take. If you’re putting your own hurricane preparedness list together, I compiled below some of my recommendations — of course, your home and your space will best determine what you need, which might differ from what I’ve needed.

Products for your hurricane preparedness checklist:

1. Predator 3500 Watt Super Quiet Inverter Generator

A portable generator can be a great investment to prepare for the possibility of power outages due to a hurricane or tropical storm. Generators are notorious for being noisy but Predator’s 3500 Watt Generator is designed to be “super-quiet.” It uses inverter technology to produce a pure sine wave power curve, which makes it safe to use with sensitive electronics, the brand boasts. The generator runs on fuel and just 25-percent capacity will power the device for 11 hours. An LCD screen will indicate low oil, electronic overload and output.

2. Bluewave Lifestyle 5-gallon Water Bottle

A supply of water is critical when preparing for a natural disaster. Make sure you and your family keep their water bottles full with this 5-gallon water bottle — a simple addition to your kit. It is made from 100-percent BPA-free plastic. The water bottle features a 120mm screw cap with an air plug which helps for easier pouring and cleaning. It might not be the prettiest bottle but it’ll come in handy and quench your family’s thirst. If you want something more hi-fi, check out the best water bottles in 2020.

3. Anker PowerCore 26800 Portable Charger

Having a portable charge (or two) will keep your phone charged in case of an emergency or if you need to reach out to family and friends. Anker’s PowerCore Charger, when fully powered, can charge your phone up to six times and equips three USB ports. The dual micro USB inputs charge the device twice as fast, in about six and a half hours. Over 14,000 Amazon reviewers gave it a 4.7-star average rating.

4. TP-Link N300 Wireless Portable Nano Travel Router

If you lose electricity, you will also lose access to the internet. If you don’t want to run through all your data, you can get this travel size router. It boasts up to 300 Mbps for Wi-Fi, ideal for lag free video streaming and online gaming, and is compatible with Google’s Chromecast. It also comes with a two-year warranty.

5. GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight

Flashlights are good to have handy in case of a power outages. GearLight’s LED Tactical Flashlight comes with two flashlights and five different settings: high, medium, low, strobe and SOS. It is built survive a 10-foot drop and submerged in water. The flashlights are powered with three AAA batteries, which are not included.

6. Welly Excursion First Aid Kit

Welly’s Excursion Kit is fully equipped for cuts and scrapes of all sizes. The kit includes 150-variety of bandages, a roll of tape, eight non-stick pads, ten wound prep pads, ten butterfly strips, ten triple antibiotic packets, ten hydrocortisone packets and a vial of ibuprofen. Welly has kits of varying sizes and styles, such as the Human Repair Kit and Colorwash Quick Fix Kit.

7. Germ-X Hand Sanitizer Pack of Four

In the case of an evacuation, the CDC recommends your “go kit” include hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Harold Lancer, MD, a board certified dermatologist, previously recommended Germ-X hand sanitizer to us. “I prefer soap and water, to tell you the truth, but if I had to pick, Germ-X is a great choice. Made up of 63 percent ethyl alcohol, it will fight off germs and the novel Covid-19,” he said.The pack comes with four 32-fluid-ounce bottles.

8. Bravo Sierra’s The Hygiene Ready Set

If you were to lose water due to a storm, having a water supply for drinking is important, but you might want to come up with an alternative for keeping yourself clean, too. The Hygiene Ready Set comes with a solid cleanser for your hair, body and face and antibacterial wipes that are alcohol-free and an ideal refresher when you don’t have access to water.

9. Buck Mason Anti-Microbial Face Mask 5 Pack

According to the CDC, your “go kit” should also include a face mask (at least two per person). Buck Mason Anti-Microbial masks come in packs of five and are treated with an anti-microbial coating on the inner layer. The masks are meant to last up to 30 wash cycles and made it into our most purchased face masks.

10. Monopoly Classic Game

On a lighter note, it’s important to keep entertained when weathering a storm. Board games, books and video game consoles can be a great way to spend time with your friends or family as you wait for the storm to pass, or even in the aftermath if you have lost electricity. This Monopoly set includes everything from the classic game such as title deed cards, chance and community cards but with a new lineup of player tokens like a T-Rex and Rubber Duck.

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