My Hurricane Bug-Out Bag & Checklist

Cade here.

Yes, unfortunately it’s that time of year again. And for anyone who lives in the southern and eastern portions of the United States, you know all too well that Mother Nature can be unforgiving! 

So, let’s get ahead of her now while we have the time to prepare. 

How do hurricanes happen? 

Hurricanes begin as tropical storms over the warm moist waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans near the equator. (Near the Philippines and the China Sea, hurricanes are called typhoons.) 

As the moisture evaporates, it rises until enormous amounts of heated moist air are twisted high in the atmosphere. The winds begin to circle counterclockwise north of the equator or clockwise south of the equator.

The relatively peaceful center of the hurricane is called the eye. Around this center winds move at speeds between 74 and 200 miles per hour. 

As long as the hurricane remains over waters of 79 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, it continues to pull moisture from the surface and grow in size and force. When a hurricane crosses land or cooler waters, it loses its source of power, and its winds gradually slow until they are no longer of hurricane force--less than 74 miles per hour.

Hurricane Types

Categories 1 – 5 

  •  Cat 1 starts at 74 mph 
  • Cat 5 in excess of 156 mph

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation 

I can think of no greater example of preparation and prior planning increasing the odds of survival than for someone who lives in a hurricane zone.  

If that’s you, or someone you love, make sure you walk through these checklists NOW, so you’re not left scrambling when a hurricane is in the forecast.  


  • Hurricane shutters or precut 1/4” plywood to cover windows
  • Roof straps
  • Remove objects outside that can blow away (chairs, tables).
  • Keep nearby trees trimmed.
  • Secure jams on doors.
  • Know how to turn off electricity and gas.


  • Full tank of gas (try to never let your gas tank go below 1/2 full)
  • Good windshield wipers
  • Check spare tire and jack kit
  • A map showing several evacuation routes in different directions 

Equipment - AKA “Go Bag”

  • Water – 1 gallon per person/day.
  • Non-Perishable food – 4Patriots Survival Food & Emergency Food Bars were meant for this.
  • Medication
  • First Aid 
  • 4Patriots HaloXT flashlight
  • Multitool
  • Butane lighter
  • 4Patriots Liberty Band Emergency Radio – doesn’t require batteries and will keep you constantly informed as to the strength and direction of the storm as well as recommended evacuation routes
  • USB-AA rechargeable batteries (check out my recommendation here)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Water purification system – assume that most of the water in the area will be contaminated from the storm
  • Rain jackets
  • Chemlights
  • Emergency Contacts – printed and in a zip-top bag or laminated
  • Cash

NOTE: Pets are not allowed in many emergency shelters so make sure you have a plan for them.

Should You Evacuate? 

Deciding to evacuate can be tough. FEMA offers these guidelines to help you decide when to evacuate with the rule of thumb being that sooner is always better. Don’t be the person or family that a Coast Guard helicopter has to retrieve.

  • Listen to weather broadcasts and evacuate if directed by authorities to do so.
  • Evacuate if you live on the coast, in a floodplain, near a river, or near an inland waterway.
  • Evacuate if you live in a mobile home or temporary structure.
  • Evacuate if you live in a high-rise building.
  • Evacuate if you feel you are in danger.

You should have several evacuation routes as options and have driven them! 

People are going to be scared, highways will be grid-locked with vehicles. The obvious route may not be the best one. Get to the highest ground you can reach away from the coast and other waterways. 

And never drive through water you can’t see the bottom of!

Make sure you have an out-of-town emergency point of contact that anyone in your family can call in case you are separated.  

Hold Your Position 

If you were unable to evacuate and are going to have to stay put, move to a lower floor room in the middle of the house. Ideally this room has no windows and no external walls. You can further bunker in by using mattresses and blankets, and position yourself under a heavy table. 

Caught Outside

If you find yourself in a situation where you are outside, you should abandon your vehicle and find shelter immediately: ditch, cave, rock out crop. Your greatest danger is being struck by flying debris, so stay as low to the ground as possible. Crawling from cover to cover until you find suitable shelter. Once there, try to find something you can cover yourself with.

Not Over Yet

If all goes quiet, don’t assume the hurricane is gone. You may be in the eye of the storm. If you are, it will be only a few minutes before the violent winds return, blowing the opposite direction.

The parallels between a nasty hurricane and combat are unlimited. Knowing when to hold your position or advance. When you have to stop and fight or shelter in place.  Knowing that if you get hit by any of the objects flying everywhere your day will be over.  Having the right gear to stay alive.  

And like combat, preparation and rehearsal are keys to success. 

Be a survivor, not a statistic,

Cade Courtley


  • Sheri B - May 20, 2022

    Battery powered radio, flashlights/lanterns, enough batteries, battery operated fans, and cash in small bills.
    Water bottles can be frozen to help keep freezer cold and for drinking. Wet wash cloths wet in zip locks in freezer to help keep cool while electric is off.
    Do laundry the day before.
    Prepare any food you can before you lose power.
    Hope this helps

  • Elizabeth T. - May 19, 2022

    Check your home generator & have fuel on hand for it if it is not a free standing style (attached to your home). Remember if it is this style (Generac) it must be shut down periodically.

  • Bess Trainer - May 11, 2022

    Very good advice from one who has lived in South Florida almost all my life, including the Fla. Keys! I suggest a little more water per person if you have small children. Also bring snacks & games to help keep the little ones occupied.

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