Here’s how you can prep for a hurricane for less than $100

Orange County Fire Rescue highlights must-have items before a storm

Preparing for a hurricane can be stressful for a lot of reasons, but your financial situation doesn't have to be one of them.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Preparing for a hurricane can be stressful for a lot of reasons, but your financial situation doesn’t have to be one of them.

When we talk about building a storm supply kit, we often mention items you'll both want and need, should you lose power for a few days. You can find a full list of recommended items in our News 6 hurricane supply checklist here.

[STORM PREP: News 6 Hurricane preparedness checklist]

Of course, some of those items might be considered luxuries.

Let's say, for whatever reason, you don't have a big budget to work with when shopping for a storm. That doesn't mean you won't be able to purchase what you need.

To prove it, we sent our four-page hurricane checklist to Orange County Fire Rescue officials to ask which of the items on the list would be considered essential.

Here’s a list of items the public information officer deemed necessary:

To see how much of that we could purchase, we gave ourselves a budget of $100 and went to our local Ace Hardware store to see how far we could stretch it.

Here's what we were able to purchase:

  • A first-aid kit with all the essentials - $25
  • Ziploc storage baggies to freeze water - $5
  • Bag of charcoal to fire up grill - $12
  • Matches - $2
  • Can opener and bottle opener - $15
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detector - $25

In a single trip to the store, only working with what they had left, we were able to purchase a bulk of what the OCFR considered to be essential and only spent $84, leaving room in our budget to purchase a few other items, including nonperishable food.

Even if your funds are limited, you can still get the most essential hurricane supplies for $100 or less.

Ace employees said they usually have cheaper options available for some of those items, but were sold out because of everyone shopping for a storm that was threatening Central Florida at the time.

Other items OCFR considered to be essential include:

  • Flashlights with extra batteries or hand-crank flashlights
  • Car charger for mobile phone
  • Grill with extra propane, charcoal or sterno (for outdoor use only)
  • Waterproof tarps
  • Basic tool kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Waterproof container or resealable bag to store important papers like insurance, medical, bank or Social Security documents/numbers
  • Two-week supply of prescription drugs
  • Antibacterial hand soap
  • Toilet paper
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Toiletries/hygiene items
  • Documentation, license
  • Nonperishable food

Many of the items listed above can be purchased at a dollar store or other convenient location for cheap.

Of all the items the PIO deemed essential, she stressed the importance of having toilet paper and said the number one item she wouldn’t go without was a manual can and bottle opener.

She also recommended people get wireless chargers and pet crates, and wanted to remind people not to leave their cars running at any time. She said bathtubs are great for storing water that can be used for flushing toilets.

Another piece of advice OCFR had to offer was keeping refrigerator temperatures down before a storm and if you have to use them for any reason, just crack them open in an effort to keep cool temperatures inside.

[RELATED: These are the best hurricane kits money can buy | 4 things to do around your house that could save you thousands on insurance]

The good news about planning ahead for a storm is that you have more time to research essential items you can purchase at a lower price. But there are also a number of free resources available, including shelters that open in the event of an emergency, sandbags offered by local governments before a storm and several apps, including the News 6 Pinpoint Weather and News 6 Hurricane Tracker apps.

As always, is your home for everything you need to know before, during and after a storm.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was published before the coronavirus pandemic. With the virus still present in our communities, we recommend you leave room in your budget to purchase masks and other essential items aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Need other shopping suggestions that fit your budget? Here are a few suggestions based on our own research:

About the Authors:

Paul is a Florida native who graduated from the University of Central Florida. As a multimedia journalist, Paul enjoys profiling the people and places that make Central Florida unique.

Donovan is WKMG-TV's executive producer of digital enterprise