Hurricane Season is not fun, especially with Ernesto in our forecast. Here is a story from my Hurricane Prep file with 2006 updates based on my experience during Ivan/Katrina/Wilma from the 2005 season.
You don't have to live in Florida to maintain a stock of hurricane/emergency supplies. For example, I once read about a California man who drives around with a 72-hour emergency supply kit in his car.
Here's my list of emergency preps:
1. Buy bottled water when it's on sale and save it! (Water that is more than a year old can be used to flush toilets in an emergency.)
2006 Update: Collect clean containers, thermos and water coolers. Fill empty vessels (gallons and gallons) with enough water for your household. This is not excessive. Last year during Wilma, we lost water. No running water for almost 2 days. We valued every drop in our stock pile.
2. Fill the tub If your local forecast includes a hurricane, a major electric storm or tornado, fill the bathtub. (Ignore this advice or lock the bathroom door if you have small children in the house.) When we lost our running water during Wilma, I was sooo glad we had filled up the bathtub. That water was used to flush the toilet.
3. Keep soapless hand sanitizers and baby wipes around. Enuf said.
4. Buy batteries on sale. Almost every week, Walgreens, CVS, Target, Rite Aid or other national chains offer batteries on sale. Keep an alphabet at your home. You never know! Buy up paper plates and plastic cutlery. Those items are important if you don't have electricity.
5. Set up a supply drawer and don't borrow from it. If you use it for leisure activities, you won't have it during emergencies. Stock the drawer or shelf with batteries, flashlights, candles, matches, canned goods, nuts and other non-perishables. Buy stuff on sale!
2006 Update: Keep a supply of books on tapes, flashlights, paper goods, fun snacks, instant soups, and camp cooking supplies. These are so helpful in a power outtage or during a post-storm period of disarray. Oh and keep lots and lots of cash on hand. When the power goes out, credit cards, ATM machines and electronic debit cards are not much use.
And though it sounds weird, set up a "safe room" in your home. For us that means a window-less area that we can go to when the winds are high.