Hurricane preparedness often focuses on protecting your family and home from the immediate dangers of a storm. Boarding up windows, placing sandbags, securing loose items, and parking your vehicle in a safe place are all necessary measures that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suggests taking as a hurricane approaches.
Many people think about the initial dangers of a strong storm, but they fail to prepare for the aftermath, which can be equally challenging. Floodwaters, infrastructure damage, and a lack of access to basic services and supplies can be as perilous as rain and winds.
Part of your hurricane prep plan should include assembling disaster supplies to sustain you until regular services are restored and businesses reopen.
What disaster supplies will you need?
To fully prepare for a hurricane, you will need non-perishable food, clean water, and fuel. You will also need batteries, fully-charged power banks, and any necessary medication.
Cellphones can help you communicate, but the storm may knock out service, so a portable, battery-powered radio is also essential for receiving necessary information and announcements from authorities.
Tanks can be invaluable in the aftermath of a hurricane. In addition to emergency water storage, you can keep vehicle fuel, or other chemicals you don’t want to leak and contaminate the environment.
Here is a look at the types of tanks you should consider acquiring as part of your hurricane prep plan.
Most hurricane prep guides suggest filling up your vehicles with gas before the storm hits. While this step is certainly important, you will also want to store and protect fuel before the storm makes landfall.
If you have natural gas supplied to your home, the hurricane may disrupt delivery or the energy company may shut down the pipeline to protect against leaks or explosions. Gas stations and retailers will likely also be shuttered in the hurricane's aftermath. The only way that you can obtain gas for energy, heating, or transportation is to have it on hand before the storm hits.
Portable gas tanks
You likely do not want hundreds of gallons of fuel sitting near your hurricane shelter. However, a gas caddy with a 20-30 gallon capacity will be useful for refilling vehicles or powering a generator. With this type of equipment, you can secure and store enough gas to last for several days and safely pump it into a vehicle or generator without having to deal with siphons.
Gas caddies also have wheels, so you can easily move the container to your vehicle or generator instead of having to fill jerrycans.
Stationary fuel tanks
If you have a business, a large property with several generators, or will need to use multiple vehicles after a hurricane for transportation, rescue, or supply delivery, a larger-capacity stationary fuel tank may be a better option. These containers have reinforced steel sides to protect the gas during the storm, pumping mechanisms for easy dispensing, and capacities of between 250 and 1000 gallons.
Transportable fuel containers
One other fuel storage tank option is a portable DEF tank. These reservoirs can fit in a vehicle, extending its range or allowing you to dispense gas to others who may need it. These easy-to-transport fuel carriers can hold between 25 and 100 gallons. Some are designed to fit securely in the back of a pickup truck.
Potable water is very important in any natural disaster. Water supplies may be shut off after a storm. Even if they are not, the water coming from faucets may not be safe to drink. According to the Mayo Clinic, floodwater can contaminate drinking water and even wash sewage into the clean water supply.
Sediment and dangerous bacteria like E.coli can make water unclean and cause severe illness in the people who drink it. A storm can also cause chemical spills, which could seep into water mains, as well. The last thing you want is to have to deal with a health crisis while trying to recover from a hurricane.
Fortunately, there are several options for creating a reserve of clean water.
Emergency water tanks
Emergency water tanks can hold between 100 and 500 gallons. You can fill it with potable water before the hurricane hits so that you have easy access to clean drinking water.
There are three things to consider if you use a plastic emergency water tank. You need to get one that is US FDA-approved to hold potable water. Also, you should get a reservoir that is impact-resistant. If it cracks or gets a leak during the storm, the water will be unsafe to drink. Finally, if you place the tank outdoors, it must be UV stabilized so that bacteria and other organisms like algae cannot grow in the tank.
Vertical water tanks
Plastic vertical water tanks are another option. These tanks are flexible in terms of usage, so you can employ them for emergency water storage, rainwater collection, or irrigation. The advantage of these reservoirs is that they come in a wide range of sizes, so you can find the one that best fits your needs. Also, they are above-ground, which means that they will avoid contamination due to flooding.
Like emergency water tanks, you need to ensure that your plastic vertical tank is FDA-approved to hold drinking water and that it is impact-resistant and has appropriate anti-algae and bacteria-resistant features.
Another option is to purchase a water tank made with food-grade resins that you can keep inside your hurricane shelter. Special slimline tanks, sometimes known as "doorway tanks" because they can fit through a doorway, are designed to store potable water indoors. Despite their thin profile, these containers can hold 250 or more gallons of water, which is more than enough for a family to use for drinking during a storm's aftermath.
What about rainwater harvesting? The different tanks can be used to store rainwater. You can get a rainwater collection kit to fill the reservoir. However, rainwater is not safe to drink, especially if you collect it from your roof and gutter system.
Rainwater systems often have strainers to keep sediment and leaves out of the cistern. However, you need to treat the water with UV light to kill bacteria and fungi or rely on approved-gravity-fed filters that remove these harmful elements.
You need to put a filtration system in place before the hurricane, and you should ensure that you have a pump or other method to run the rainwater through the filtration unit. Keep in mind that some pumps may require a power source. You may want to consider a gravity-fed system or a manual pump that won't require you to run a generator.
Water bladder tanks, also known as pillow tanks, are a convenient option for hurricane preparedness. Why? When not in use, you can fold them down and store them in a small space. This type of compact storage is not possible with standing tanks. If you have limited space or don't want to place a large tank outdoors, these compactable options are an excellent alternative.
If the fabric for a water bladder tank is FDA-approved for holding potable water, you can fill it with drinking water as part of your hurricane prep. Some pillow tanks are meant for wastewater or runoff, so they may not be made from food-safe materials.
Smaller water tanks holding between 25 and 100 gallons can fit in a pickup truck, so you can transport them easily. You might also be able to place a small pillow tank inside your shelter for easy water access if needed.
Transport tanks can also prove useful. If you have to move locations after the hurricane due to unsafe conditions, evacuation orders, or other issues, you can take your water and fuel with you.
You may want to have the flexibility to take your water and fuel with you regardless of whether or not you actually have to leave your location.
Water caddies allow you to bring drinking water and access it easily at any time. Many of these tanks have pneumatic tires so you can take them with you even if you have to travel on foot for part of the way.
Another option is a flat-bottom or rounded transport tank. These will fit on the back of a truck or other utility vehicle. You can then take the water with you when you leave, but you can also use it if you stay put. This extra transportability can be valuable because it is impossible to predict what may be necessary after a hurricane.
You also need to ensure you secure food as part of your hurricane prep efforts. You may not have access to power, so you should not stock perishable foods. Canned and dried goods are the safest options.
You should also consider food that is easy to prepare. You should get foods that are already cooked, so you only have to heat them again before eating. You can stock charcoal for a barbecue or a portable gas cooker, such as a camping stove. These options can help you heat food even if you do not have power.
However, if you have canned or dried foods that you can eat without cooking, you will still have food even if your cooking options are not available.
Start hurricane prep now
It is never too early to start preparing for the next hurricane season. Starting now will give you the time to install and secure water or fuel tanks, collect water, and test everything to ensure that it works perfectly. This will give you confidence that your equipment will be able to deliver when it absolutely has to.
Visit the Tank Depot to find hurricane prep tanks to suit your needs.