How to prepare for a storm

The first storm watch of the season has already been posted for Florida and Cuba. As the climate continues to change, these storms become more and more volatile. Areas of the country that used to only experience mild weather are now subject to destructive storms and other natural disasters. No matter where you live, you need to know how to prepare.

As we’ve seen with the recent shortages, essentials might not always be in stock for a quick purchase. The best thing you can do is get the items you need now. Here are three steps of storm preparation and 10 items you’ll want to have on hand when a storm is approaching. 

The three steps of storm preparation

No matter what type of storm is coming — a thunderstorm, a hurricane, a tornado or a winter storm — there are three things you need to do to prepare: educate, create and gather.

Educate

Not all storms are the same. The first step to being prepared is to educate yourself so you understand the timeline and risk factors.

Timeline: A hurricane, for example, begins as a tropical cyclone in the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean. After one forms, there is a cone of uncertainty predicting where it will make landfall and how it will travel across the country. With a hurricane, you will know three to five days in advance if you are in the path of the storm.

A tornado, on the other hand, can happen whenever warm, moist air collides with cold, dry air. It can take you by surprise. This is why there are tornado watches and tornado warnings. A tornado watch lets you know when the weather conditions are such that a tornado could form. A tornado warning, however, alerts you that a tornado has already been identified in your area.

Understanding the timeline of different types of storms lets you know when you need to act.

Risk factors: During a thunderstorm, there is a risk of flooding, power outages, lightning, fire and more. With a winter storm, you add hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning and other hazards. Tornadoes and hurricanes can produce damaging and deadly winds. Understanding all the risk factors lets you prepare accordingly.

Create

Long before the storms arrive, you need to create a plan of action. This plan should include everything you need to do as a storm approaches, such as securing your home, gathering clean water, bringing patio furniture indoors, filling your car with gas and more. It should involve monitoring a weather radio so you aren’t caught unprepared by ever-changing weather conditions. It is also important to have a plan in place to care for pets and people who need help or supervision. Make sure all important phone numbers are in everyone’s phone, and have several escape routes mapped out in case you need to evacuate.

Gather

The third step is all about stocking up on the things you will need once the storm hits. Make a checklist of essentials, and keep it in a file on your computer or mobile device so you can adjust it as your experience with storms grows and your living situation evolves. It is also important to print out a backup hard copy of the list, and keep it somewhere that is easily accessible.

In times of crises, you might not be thinking as clearly as you would like. That is why your checklist should also include where you store essentials so you can quickly find them. For example, you need to know where to find batteries, lanterns, flashlights and your first-aid kit. The best option is to assemble an emergency kit that has everything you need in one place.

10 things you need to prepare for approaching storms

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System

While your first action should be to fill up sinks, tubs and jugs with fresh drinking water, you need a backup plan in case that water gets contaminated. Sawyer’s water filtration system comes with everything you need to purify your water in emergencies. This model can remove up to 99.99% of bacteria and protozoa. It also removes 100% of microplastics and can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water. 

Sold by Amazon

Kind Bars

Kind Bars

If you lose power, you won’t be able to cook, and you can’t keep refrigerated foods safe to eat. Whenever a storm is approaching, make sure you have a backup supply of nonperishable food. Kind bars are a great option because they are a nutritionally dense offering that provides protein and fiber. On top of that, they are delicious.

Sold by Amazon and Staples

Swiss Safe 200-Piece Professional First Aid Kit

Swiss Safe 200-piece Professional First-Aid Kit

If anyone in your family gets injured during a storm, you might not be able to travel to an urgent care facility. This means you must have medical supplies on hand to treat minor injuries. A comprehensive first-aid kit is essential in any emergency. This offering from Swiss Safe gives you 200 items that go a little beyond the typical bandages, tape and alcohol prep pads. You also get a fire starter rod, a wire saw and a Mylar blanket.

Sold by Amazon

SupplyAid KN95 Protective Face Mask

SupplyAid KN95 Protective Face Mask

If the air isn’t safe to breathe, you won’t stay healthy for very long. Storms can kick a variety of undesirable particles into the air. To help keep you safe, this five-pack of foldable KN95 masks can filter out at least 95% of particles greater than 0.3 microns in size. It is an excellent addition to your home emergency preparedness pack.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Kidde Basic Use Fire Extinguisher

Kidde Basic Use Fire Extinguisher

Every home needs to have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. After a storm, when the threat of a fire can be even greater, these basic items become even more important. This two-pack of Kidde fire extinguishers is rated to handle combustible, liquid, gas or electrical fires. It has an impact-resistant metal valve and an easy-to-read gauge. If you ever need to use a fire extinguisher, remember to P.A.S.S.: Pull the pin, aim, squeeze and sweep.

Sold by Home Depot

Hand Crank Emergency Radio

Hand Crank Emergency Radio

To keep abreast of changing weather, you need an emergency radio. This model has a battery that can be charged by a USB cable, a hand crank or via the built-in solar panel. If you need a backup battery, this unit can also power your phone. It features a rugged, waterproof design and has a built-in AM/FM/NOAA radio so you can stay current with all weather and news updates.

Sold by Amazon

Coleman Lantern

Coleman Lantern

If the power goes out, you’ll want a hands-free light source that lets you see what you need to do at any time of day. This Coleman lantern delivers 100 lumens for up to 20 hours. If you need brighter light, the high mode gives you 400 lumens. For convenience, you can also use this lantern to charge your mobile devices.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Energizer T1000 LED Tactical Flashlight

Energizer T1000 LED Tactical Flashlight

When you require a portable light source, you do not want to depend on your phone — you need that to make calls. This tactical flashlight from Energizer provides 1,000 lumens and has a range of over 600 feet. It is made with aircraft-grade alloy for durability and is waterproof, so it will hold up under a wide range of adverse conditions.

Sold by Amazon

Moko Fireproof Money and Document Bag

Moko Fireproof Money and Document Bag

Even when there are no looming storms, you want to keep all important, hard-to-replace documents in a safe location. Moko’s silicone-coated document bag has an aluminum foil interior that allows it to withstand temperatures of up to 1,832 degrees. It is water-resistant and features a dual closure (zipper and hook-and-loop) for maximum protection. 

Sold by Amazon

NOCO Boost X GBX155 UltraSafe Portable Lithium Jump Starter

NOCO Boost X GBX155 UltraSafe Portable Lithium Jump Starter

If you need to evacuate, a dead vehicle battery means you can’t drive to safety. A lithium jump starter can save your life in this situation. The NOCO Boost X GBX155 can fully recharge in under three hours. If you just need it to provide a single jump, that only takes five minutes. The mistake-proof technology means even a novice will be safe when they jump-start a vehicle. If needed, this unit can be used as a power bank to recharge your mobile devices.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.