Widespread devastation. Barely habitable. The powerful storm heading towards Americans is a threat. Like those in Hurricane Harvey’s path, many more Americans could soon be without power and other basic support services – and may be so for several days.
Harvey was a Category 4 with mean winds up to 156 mph that caused severe damage to well-built homes and uprooted trees.
Irma, which was downgraded to a Category 4 Friday morning, is expected to hit Florida Sunday.
Are you ready for a hurricane to strike? What if you need to suddenly leave your home for a few days? Is your “go bag” prepared with the right essential items in case you need to evacuate to safety?
This isn’t a comprehensive list, but a few key essentials to help cope when a hurricane strikes. Build your hurricane “go bag” and duffel in advance with the very best stuff used by tactical professionals- but available to civilians too.
Gear up and get ready!
Select a Go Bag
Let’s start with the “go bag.” This is where you carry all your key survival essentials.
With hurricanes this dangerous you may need to be ready to leave your home and head to a safe area. About 100,000 homes were hit by Harvey, for example. Florida has already begun evacuations.
Any sturdy backpack you use regularly and are comfortable with can work well.
If you want to invest in something a tactical professional would use, then Vertx EDC Gamut is a top choice. Military quality, but with a smart civilian look. The pack is designed to withstand elite team missions so it will effortlessly take a beating. It can be fully loaded out and has heaps of engineering to make it comfortable to carry for the longest trudges through hurricane floods. Priced at $199.95.
The Blue Force Gear Jedburgh pack is very versatile and the incredibly smart Dapper organization system provides a huge advantage –especially in a crisis – because it makes everything easily and rapidly accessible. Definitely another top option. It comes in different colors and is available for $140.
Patagonia’s Black Hole 25L with durable water-repellent finish is another great option and will keep your contents dry in hurricane rains. Black Hole comes in different sizes and retails for about $100.
Stay Connected to Help
A hurricane can mean no Wi-Fi, no electricity, no television, no computers, no power to charge your phone … so it is very important to have a radio.
The water resistant, simple-to-use Eton FR600 endorsed by the American Red Cross has AM, FM, seven NOAA weather channels and S.A.M.E. Technology so that you can track the hurricane’s progress and find out about available support – anytime, anywhere.
Use the smart “Alert” mode that automatically alerts you when the national weather service posts vital data – so you don’t have to listen to the weather nonstop.
Features like the speakers you can use to plug in your own music and the morning alarm allow you to bring some home conveniences with you.
There’s also an SOS siren to use if you need help.
This radio can be charged a few ways. Cranking only takes about 90 seconds to charge. The solar panel powers a built-in battery. And you can also use regular batteries.
Power Through a Crisis
Bring your own power to the crisis. Hurricane Sandy caused about 8.1 million homes to lose power with outages affecting 17 states. Expect that there will be no electricity available.
Put a device like the Voltaic Fuse 6W Solar Charger on your go bag. Lightweight and about magazine sized, it is one of the very best options that will give you a four-to-one ratio of reliable smartphone charge for the time you expose it to sunlight.
Retails for $129.
Looks like a briefcase, acts like a reliable solar power generator that is easy to carry. For more power on the go, Renogy KIT-FIREFLY 20W All-in-One Generator Kit weighs only 12 pounds but delivers 20W so will definitely help keep phones and radios charged.
Always Have a Solar Powered Flashlight Ready
It’s extremely important that every family member has a flashlight. The GoalZero Black Flash Flashlights ($40) are excellent. They’re lightweight and small, and charged by the sun so you will not have to worry about running out of batteries.
Access to Clean Water in a Flood
We take access to clean water for granted in the U.S., but natural disasters like a hurricane can potentially disrupt clean water supply.
FEMA recommends at least one gallon per person per day for emergency preparedness. Important to keep in mind that humans can survive a lot longer without food than they can water. But where do you get water when there’s no water coming out of the faucet or it comes out looking dirty?
You need to make sure you have a way to clean water. With the right device, you can take water from a puddle or a swimming pool and safely hydrate. And this is important – look at the flooding in Texas. Tests have revealed sewage, fecal bacteria, E. Coli and more that can make humans extremely ill have contaminated the flood water at very high levels.
Images of Americans trapped in cars that have been flooded or stuck on the roof of their homes in Harvey’s aftermath are a stark reminder that it is important to always have access to clean water during flooding.
Pop the lightweight tube on a lanyard called LifeStraw in your go bag and you will immediately be able to remove more than 99 percent of bacteria and protozoa and will process up to 264 gallons from any water you come across.
This is also something you can put around a child’s neck so it is always available and at hand. Another great option is the LifeStraw Go Water Bottle available at $29.16.
First Aid Kit
Designed by a Special Forces veteran with 28 years of combat experience, one of the very best first aid kits that is the highest military standard but available to help you and your family is the ReadyMan Ultimate Kit.
If you are going to invest in one thing, then it should be having to hand things that can save your life and others. The ReadyMan TNT First Aid Trauma Pack is available for $277.95.
At a lower price point, ReadyMan also makes a very popular Medical Card. Simply jam packed with essential medical tools in the size of a credit card, you can slip in your wallet or pocket. Put this into your current first aid kit to ramp it up. Available for $13.
Duffel Hurricane Defeater
You have a go bag, but how do you prepare for being on the go for more than a few days?
Get smart and proactive. Choose a waterproof duffel and stock it up.
There are a lot of great options on the market, but the two true standouts are Yeti’s newly debuted Panga and Grundens Gage Shackleton Waterproof. Both will give you the comfort of knowing that no matter how much water a hurricane unleashes, day after day your sleeping bag and clothes will be utterly dry. Those both will last a lifetime of adventures and have smart features.
Panga has super smart pocket design ideal for emergency circumstances. The Shackleton Duffel easily converts to a backpack when you deploy the hidden straps.
With the Panga, you get YETI’s engineering that made tumblers and coolers basically indestructible. That level of excellence applied to keeping your belongings dry no matter what. Available starting at about $300.
At a lower price point of $115, the Shackleton is an incredible deal. Grundens are masterful at defeating water and rain. Founded by a fisherman’s son to better protect fishermen, Grundens has been innovating to defeat the most extreme ocean conditions and stormy waters for more than 100 years. Professional fishermen rely on the company’s products in scary extreme weather at sea – and you can too when facing a hurricane.
Do not expect to be able to pop down to your local grocery and pick up food. With flooding, access to food could take days. It is important to stock your go bag with lightweight nutrition like protein bars.
For your vehicle or duffel, you need to stock up for at least several days of food. Bear in mind that after you evacuate, you might not have access to electricity or a kitchen to make food.
One outstanding option is Mountain House. They have kits containing from two to 14-day supplies. Their emergency “buckets” will provide tasty, freeze dried, loaded with nutrition meals that only need hot water to prepare. Options range from lasagna to scrambled eggs.
Mountain House makes Long Range Patrol rations or “LRPS” (now called Meal, Cold Weather) for the United States military.
Designed to help U.S. Special Forces to be at their very best while operating in every extreme climate and terrain, LRPs are now available to civilians too with options like chicken and rice and breakfast skillet.
Kits for 72 Hours, for 2 people start at $147.
Bring the Heat
A warm meal or hot drink can be a real boost to morale in a crisis. Without electricity, that will be tough unless you’ve planned in advance and made sure you have a stove. The BioLite Wood Burning CampStove is definitely one of the best options and it is available for $130.
Make sure to pop your electronics in something waterproof. Freegrace Waterproof Lightweight Dry Sack/Dry Bags is another great option and comes with double zip lock seals to extra protect your things if they get submerged underwater.
Another standout, it comes with a waterproof phone case so you can still text and talk while out in hurricane rain. Fantastic value for max protection.
Protect Medicine, Important Documents, and Precious Possessions
With emergencies, it is extremely important to prepare critical things you might need in advance.
Things like birth certificates, passports, irreplaceable photos, medicine for medical conditions, a paper map in the event you can’t use your phone to navigate … these things need to be kept safe – and dry.
Magpul is renowned for its revolutionary, smart designs. With the PMAG, for example, they’ve transformed magazines, in a way that will save warfighter lives. In fact, the Marine Corps and now the Air Force has adopted them.
The Magpul DAKA Pouch comes in different sizes and will keep your precious things safe from hurricane rains, flooding, mud and more.
$22.95 lots of colors.
Last Line of Defense
Ziplocs are also great to use as a final line of defense. If you don’t have a laminated map, then you can keep a map safe in a Ziploc. Garbage bags are very useful too in case clothing gets wet, then you can separate it and keep things dry.
Forewarned is Forearmed
Make sure to think about things tailored to your family. For example, if you have children then cards, lightweight travel-sized board games may be a good idea to pass the time.
And do your research. Watch instructional videos by elite military professionals who are experts in survival, like ReadyMan, for detailed advice.
Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries who consults at the highest levels of defense and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, on sale in 30 countries. Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk” where she gives listeners direct access to the most fascinating Special Operations warriors each week and to find out more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist you can click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.