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Friday, February 15, 2008

Hurricane Kits

I know lots of us down here in Houston have our 72-hour Hurricane Evacuation kits made. Last year we had an awesome presentation on how to put together a GOOD kit, with food you would actually be willing to eat, and tips on what to do for pets & babies.

I was at HEB yesterday, using a handful of coupons for random baby snacks, when I noticed they had the Gerber Graduate ready-to-eat meals on sale for 89¢. I picked up several for Aiden's hurricane kit and a few for fast dinners when we need them. (He's beginning to refuse to eat baby food. And by "refuse" I mean violent spitting of any I put in his mouth!) I have also loved the HEB snack packs of Unsweetened apple sauce for him. It's $1.36 for six lunch box size plastic apple sauce packs that don't expire until October of 2009. PERFECT for his kit, too!

For anyone who hasn't tackled the daunting task of getting your family evacuation-ready by May, the first month of hurricane season, here is what we did last year that made it SOOOOO easy:

Buy the 2.5 gallon slide zipper ziplock bags. These are big and you'll use one bag per person plus one or two "family" bags that have extra items in them.

For each adult & child family member over two, pack:

SIX tubs of ready to eat soup/Dinty Moore beef stew/chilli *with a pull-tab lid* PER PERSON. This can be Campbell's Chunky Soup, Soup at Hand, Progresso , Hormel Chilli tubs....any of them. No condensed cans - you need the ones intended to be packed in lunches. These go on sale frequently and $1.50 or less per can is a fair price. If they are $1 per can, GET THEM! Six tubs will provide lunch & dinner for one person for three days.

If you can't bear the thought of soup and chilli for three days, supplement with some of the Chicken Salad & cracker kits that are available. They're more expensive but the change of flavor might be worth it to you.

SIX Packets of Instant Oatmeal PER PERSON in your family's favorite flavors. This will allow for two packets per person to be eaten for breakfast so make sure you have two pouches of each flavor. You will need to add a plastic cup and a plastic fork and spoon to your kits as well. (Even if you don't pack oatmeal as your breakfast.) NOTE: Babies 9 months and up CAN be fed any type of instant oatmeal. Aiden frequently eats it for breakfast and has since he was 8 months. This is an excellent food to pack.

If you absolutely cannot stand oatmeal, you'll need to pack breakfast bars with a long shelf-life instead. Or something like instant cream of wheat or instant Malt-O-Meal.

SNACKS: You and your children will need these to keep your energy up. I selected various granola bars, breakfast bars, fruit snacks, fruit roll ups, Slim Jims and such for our family. When we were taught how to pack our kits, we were told to actually select special snack items you don't normally buy, especially if you have children. This way, when everyone is stressed and frightened, you have something fun and distracting to offer. Cram as many extra little snacks as you can in the ziplock bags. You'll want them! Don't be afraid to remove items from their boxes to save as much space as possible.

CANDY: Again, this is to curb your appetite and keep your energy up in high-stress situations. Smarties were strongly recommended to our group and that is what I packed. Give each person six candies. (Two per day.)

DRINKS: Pack three bottled juice or sports drinks per person. Water will be one of your "family" items so select something with flavor for the kits. We chose Welches fruit punch & grape juice while Aiden has apple juice. KoolAid KoolBursts, Capri Suns and other lunchbox-intended drinks are perfect.

FAMILY BAGS: This is where you should pack the extras your family would need. We have a food bag that has a box of Ritz, a small jar of peanutbutter, a box of granola bars, a roll of paper towels and a small box of plastic utensils. In another we have a first aid kit, a weatherproof vehicle bag that can be tied to the roof rack on our Xterra, a Red Cross battery-or-hand-crank emergency radio with a cell phone charger built in, flashights, and sanitary items because you KNOW you'd get your period in the middle of an evacuation! LOL! I need to update ours and add headache & cold medicine. Your family water should be stored with the kits.

For Babies:

0-9 Months: Aiden was three months old and still nursing exclusively when I packed his kit last year. I'm happy that I went ahead and packed the kit because by the time hurricane season was over in November, he was eight months and was eating more than he was nursing. Here is what you will need for babies in this age range:

*Small box of Rice Cereal/Baby Oatmeal (if your child will eat this)

*6 tubs of Gerber Stage 1 Baby Food in various flavors - it comes in plastic contaners. This is important. NO GLASS. I would recommend fruits & veggies.

*Sample can of baby formula, even if you're nursing exclusively. This ensures your newborn can eat NO MATTER WHAT. (Ask your pediatrician for a free can. They have tons.)

*1 or 2 containers of Gerber Fruit Puffs. These can be crushed in the mouth of a five month old and easily eaten by seven month olds, despite the label directions. (Aiden is 10 months and won't hardly eat the things now.)

*1-4 Small bottles of juice. Get the Gerber Baby Juices if you're most comfortable with that.

*9 ounce baby bottle

*travel size baby hair & body wash (put this inside the bottle)
*two feeding spoons (put these inside the bottle)
*sample size diaper rash cream (goes in the bottle, too)
*wash cloth
*sample packs of baby wipes for after meal clean ups
*baby Tylenol (a tiny bottle of Mylicon drops would be a good idea for babies under 5 months)

9-18 Months:

*9 ready-to-eat meals (baby food tubs, Gerber Graduates meals, apple sauce packs, etc.)

*Packs of instant oat meal or anything else that your baby would eat for a meal

*Snacks: Gerber fruit puffs, animal crackers, snack size bags of goldfish crackers, baby fruit snacks, baby fruit strips, etc. As many as you can squeeze in

*Plastic feeding bowl (or plan to use an empty gerber tub to mix in if you don't have room)

*1-4 Small bottles of juice

*Sample can of baby formula, even if you don't give formula (Toddler formulas for babys 9+ months. Remember, there probably wouldn't be any access to fresh whole milk and your baby would desperately need the calories.)

*9-11 ounce baby bottle or sippy cup

*travel size baby hair & body wash (put this inside the bottle)
*two feeding spoons (put these inside the bottle)
*sample size diaper rash cream (goes in the bottle, too)
*wash cloth
*sample packs of baby wipes for after meal clean ups
*baby Tylenol

Next to the baby kit: Have a full package of wipes and a brand new pack of diapers. Rotate out the diapers as your baby grows into different sizes.


You will need a small size bag of their food. Check e-bay for coupons for free bags or google "free dog food". The bag of pet food should be packed in a jumbo zip lock with two bowls (one is for water) and small chew treats.

NOW, store all of these items together. Brian built me a second high shelf in the laundry room and it is dedicated entirely to hurricane kits and water storage. If we need to evacuate, I could have clothes packed, the external hard drive disconnected and us loaded in the car in about 30 minutes.

I hope this helps at least one person with their kits! I know the class last year was a huge advantage to me and I can rest so easy knowing we are prepared. Now all I have to do is shop sales for the items that can go stale, like oatmeal & breakfast bars, and swap them out to update our kits.


Alisha said...

Wow Tay, thanks for that! I "thought" I had our hurricane kits packed, but apparently I missed that meeting you went to because I was not even CLOSE to ready. You are so on top of it girl!

Muggle Mom said...

awesome list and tips! guess i should get all that stuff together. :)