Preparing your pantry for a hurricane

By Joan Leotta

For The Sun News

Several items recommended to keep in your home in the event of a hurricane.
Several items recommended to keep in your home in the event of a hurricane. Joan Leotta

Storm season is peaking in our part of the world. At the official beginning of hurricane season in June, local television and radio stations are full of advice to “stock up” and get prepared. Historically, however, on the Grand Strand, the late September and October storms have done the most damage to our shores.

You may have gathered some supplies in June, but now is the time to give those supplies a second look, refresh what might be stale and while you have the pantry door open, check your other storm prep as well.

As well as tracking storms with various weather apps (I like the National Weather…)

You need to formulate a plan that covers both potential storm scenarios---staying and leaving.

Staying in place means to plan for life with power outages possible and drinking water problems.

Even for evacuation it is possible for the site to lose power so travel with batteries and documents with you. If you take any prescription medicines, contact your physician about an emergency protocol. Ask how quickly you can obtain needed items, refills, and if there are special ways a storm might put you at risk. Make sure your family first aid kit is ready and handy—small cuts can pose large threats of infection if not taken care of. Cough? Cold? Fever? In a storm you will not be able to run out for your favorite over-the-counter remedies so be sure you have enough in your own easy-to-pack kit. Plan out what you will take with you if you have to evacuate so you can pack quickly.

Leaving or staying, be sure you have batteries on hand for flashlights and a storm radio. Have plastic locking bags for your most important documents and have them ready to go along with you. Keep your gas tank full or near full at all times and keep some cash with you since an electrical outage means ATMs will not work.

Canned goods, packaged crackers, dried products, nuts, and fresh foods not needing refrigeration like fruits and cheeses are your friends. If you like milk, invest in a packet or two of powdered milk to use during this time. Canned or aseptic containers of milk are fine if you are going to use it all at once, but remember, they need to be refrigerated once opened. If you think you might use a camp stove or a grill during an electrical blackout be sure to remember to use it only in a well-ventilated area, not in the garage or inside the home. These can pose a fire danger, but even worse, a carbon monoxide danger. Plan on taking some with you if you have to leave and be sure you have enough to feed your family for a week in case of an extended outage. Don’t forget, a tropical storm with high winds and heavy rainfall, especially with sustained rainfall, can also flood out roads and kill electrical power. So do pay close attention even when the weatherman says, a “tropical storm” will hit here.

Judy DelSignore, volunteer communicator of the American Red Cross - Eastern SC Chapter (Myrtle Beach), said, “At the American Red Cross we prepare year round. Training of volunteers is a monthly activity. When our volunteers are trained we are prepared to respond to any disaster, be it a hurricane, tornado, flood or fire.

“We encourage everyone to build a kit and have a plan. Resources to support our volunteers are also critical. Year round we prepare our supplies, vendor agreements and other items to ensure our quick and appropriate response.”

DelSignore adds, “As the hurricane nears, we encourage residents to evacuate if required. The “Know Your Zone” brochure will give residents this information and more. Many locations in the Grand Strand have these available (electric companies and county offices for both Horry and Georgetown counties).

After the storm is over and roads are clear, we would welcome blood donations. The American Red Cross and county executives will indicate what needs there are for food supplies.

Make a Kit (from the Red Cross of Horry County)

The residents also need to prepare for any disaster. We encourage everyone to build a kit and have a plan. The kit should include items that will sustain a family for at least three days. It should be a container that is easily accessed with all the items necessary. Included in the kit should be:

1 gallon of drinking water per day per person

Medicine (prescription and over-the-counter)

Non-perishable foods with a manual can opener

Clean-up items ( paper towels, hand sanitizer, garbage bags etc.)

Cash ( if power goes out ATMs will not be working)

Supplies for children ( toys, favorite foods)

Flashlights and batteries

First Aid Kit

Important papers proving residence (e.g., water or electric bill) 

Having lived through snowstorms in the north and several tropical storms here on the coast, I would add five things to this list:

  • Keep your insurance phone numbers on hand as well and copies of your polices (house, wind, flood, and auto)
  • Charge all phones and other electronic devices and make sure the chargers are in your emergency kit camera. Take some photos of the house interior and exterior before the storm hits and as soon as you can return to your home or while you are at home after the storm has passed.
  • Battery-powered radio to get news of what is going on in the area
  • As the storm approaches, begin to eat up what is in your freezer. 

Let’s hope that you can file this article away and not have to use it this year, but in case the worst storm comes our way, at least with a list like this you can ameliorate the inconveniences and problems with preparation.