The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is quickly ramping up, and Southwest Florida found itself in the cone of uncertainty for the first time this year with Isaias.

Although Florida held its annual Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday from May 29 to June 4, many people did not stock up because their minds were still on COVID-19. Now, with the tropics heating up, they are not fully prepared for hurricane season.

Building a hurricane kit is relatively easy. These eight items are essential:

  • Cordless drill and drill bits: No one wants to hang and remove hurricane shutters with a screwdriver or hand tools. After installing shutters, make sure the drill is fully charged for when it’s time to remove shutters.
  • Light source: Lanterns can light up a room, while flashlights and candles offer enough light to see your way around the house. Have a selection of each.
  • Power bank: Portable cell phone chargers are critical to keep you connected when the power fails. High-capacity chargers can power up multiple devices at once.
  • Battery-operated fan: Once the power fails, the room temperature will heat quickly with no A/C. A portable fan keeps the breeze blowing and the body cool.
  • Cooler: Freezers and refrigerators are designed to keep food cold when the power is on. Coolers, particularly trusted brands like Yeti, can protect your investment in food.
  • Gas: Purchase and fill multiple 5-gallon gas cans in case fuel is difficult to find before or after a storm. You’ll need an ample supply to power a generator as well as a vehicle. If you have a gas grill, make sure the propane tank is full.
  • Water: Purchase a case or two of bottled water, along with gallon jugs. Fill up empty bottles at home as well.
  • Food: Select food with substance, like beef jerky, tuna in a pouch and granola bars. Make sure you have a traditional can opener handy. Remember to stock up on pet food as well.

Two additional items also are worth considering if your budget allows. A generator can provide enough power for a portable A/C unit, refrigerator and light, allowing a family to feel comfortable inside of a room. A gas or charcoal grill allows you to cook meat and vegetables before your food spoils, and restaurants or grocery stores might have limited service after a storm – just make sure you have enough propane or charcoal in reserve.

This is the sixth consecutive year we’ve had a named tropical system before the official start of hurricane season on June 1, and Isaias became the earliest I-named cyclone in history. We’re barely halfway through 2020, but if there’s anything this year has taught us, it’s to be prepared for the unexpected.

– By Scott Hamblen, Chief Merchandising Officer