Hurricane Irma special coverage: Hurricane survival tips

Lee’s note: This is the third part of our ongoing Hurricane Irma special coverage. Previous stories have addressed expanded CCW rights for evacuees and how to safeguard your firearms from storm damage. Here are some tips both for those who evacuate and for those who decide to shelter in place.

Don’t become a victim

When a burglar targets a residential home, they’re looking for prescription drugs, cash, expensive jewelry and guns.

By comparison, your typical hurricane evacuee is likely carrying prescription drugs, cash, expensive jewelry and guns.

Unarmed hurricane evacuees are dream scores for bad guys.  Armed and prepared evacuees are a bad guy’s nightmare. If you’re ordered to evacuate, take full advantage of your expanded concealed-carry rights and go armed.

Be wary of someone flagging you down or directing traffic. Unless they’re a uniformed law enforcement officer, don’t stop or accept rerouting. It could end in a very bad way.

Also, at rest stops, gas stations or anywhere else, keep your head on a swivel and never leave your car unattended.

Your hurricane larder

Having worked in the Caribbean and Florida for some time now, I’m always amazed by the foodstuffs people purchase before a storm.  This is not a time to cheap out.

I had one colleague who bought dozens of cans of corned beef because they were on sale — bargain-basement stuff not fit for hogs.

Think about what you’d buy if you took your family camping for a week.

Plan for at least two meals per person, per day, along with two gallons of potable water per person, per day.  I’d also recommend numerous high-energy snacks. Cliff Bars and similar products are a great choice.

For your meals, buy items you actually enjoy eating — canned goods that are easy to heat and don’t require any precious potable water to prepare.  At the end of a long day battling the storm, filling sandbags, moving heirlooms to higher ground — all without AC — a good meal is one of the few luxuries available.

Also, forget the Sterno or similar cookers. They take far too long. I use a two-burner Coleman camping stove, which uses white gas. It heats about as quickly as a kitchen stove.


If you shelter in place, you cannot have enough potable water.

It doesn’t all have to be bottled. Tap water is just fine, and rain water can serve a purpose too.

In addition to bottled water for drinking, I rely on five large Rubbermaid bins, which I’ll fill with tap water and then position in the kitchen and bathroom for cooking, washing pots and pans and flushing the commode.

The beauty of the bins is that they can be refilled with rainwater, which works well for showers and keeping the toilet operational.


I’m a huge fan of solar showers. They’re cheap. They work, and they’re incredibly refreshing.

If you shelter in place, buy several. They’re easy to use, just hang them outside for a few hours and then hang them in your shower stall and enjoy.

Even on cloudy days, they’ll absorb enough sunlight to heat the water a bit.

Wet wipes are another must-have item — especially the ones with anti-bacterial soap. While they’re not as refreshing as a shower, they’re better than nothing.

I can’t stress enough the importance of a well-stocked First Aid kit, along with plenty of antibiotic creams. During an emergency, if even a small cut becomes infected, you’re in serious trouble.

Personal security

Storm surge and massive amounts of rain also displace some serious threats to your safety: fire ants, snakes and gators. That’s why you should avoid flood waters at all costs.

If you shelter in place, be cognizant of the fact that two-legged varmints might not know your home is occupied. To them, it’s just another home to loot.

The only warning you may get that bad guys are about to ransack your home is their boot to the back door.

You’ll likely only have seconds to respond.

That’s why, in my humble opinion, I recommend home-carry during a hurricane.

There’s no way to know if you’ll have time to grab a firearm when the bad guys boot a door.

A loaded handgun in a holster on your side allows for an immediate response to the threat, while you work your way toward a long gun and end the fight.

Stay safe, everyone!







About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

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