Advice for a new prepper – hurricane/flood scenario in Florida

I am a new prepper currently getting ready for a hurricane/flood scenario ( I live in Florida). Any advice, particularly on handheld water filters, which I don’t know if I can trust


  • Comments (19)

    • 4

      The handheld water filters work and are probably the first thing I recommend to people new to prepping because they are so cheap and because clean water is one of your most important preps.

      The Prepared has a great article on them Best portable survival water filters.

      How did you fair though the recent hurricane that came through? What do you wish you had done better? Many people see or go through a disaster and realize “I probably should prepare for this.” Your natural gut feeling of things you would like to do should give you a good starting ground. For example, if your power went out and your street flooded, you realize you need some lanterns for light and maybe some sand bags to prevent water coming in next time it happens.

      This is a great community, so feel free to ask whatever you want and we all should be pretty helpful.

    • 4

      If you’re committed to living in hurricane country for the foreseeable future, you might consider getting involved in local emergency preparedness groups and disaster response teams or, possibly, working on longer term policy and infrastructure issues (e.g., citizen advisory boards, local activism, etc.) to make your community more resilient.

      While Florida is a a bit different than Puerto Rico, many of the underlying infrastructure issues raised in this op-ed piece are likely the same:

      Why Must Puerto Ricans Always Be Resilient?


    • 8

      As someone who also lives in hurricane country, I recommend that you first ensure that you establish some financial reserves, have excellent insurance, and have a ready exit strategy.  

      The most important thing to do, particularly if flooding is likely, is to get out.  Regardless of whether you think you will be that special person who is not impacted (there’s always somebody), the responsible thing to do is to evacuate so that first responders and others don’t have to rescue you.  Or, if you don’t need to be rescued by first responders, that your loved ones don’t have to watch you die from a horrible disease that you contracted from the floodwaters.  The insurance will set your mind at ease in terms of having to walk away from what are, after all, just material things, and the financial reserves will make it possible for you to evacuate and stay at a hotel (though in my case I have several friends farther inland willing to take me in if needed).  Leave as soon as you get the itch, especially now that hurricanes are getting stronger, faster.  Sure, you may feel like an idiot if you evacuate and then the hurricane doesn’t hit your home. So what? It’s better than being dead. And the longer you wait, the more crowded the escape routes become.

      Now – if you are relatively new to prepping (welcome!), I’d suggest searching this site for information on water storage and filtering, like this piece.  There’s even a course!  But water storage and filtering are essential for all scenarios, and not what I’d recommend as a prep specific for flooding.  I’ve had to use my water preps for all kinds of “boring” situations.  The water company accidentally shut off our water due to a misunderstanding about our bill.  A water main broke in the city and contaminated the supply. Etc.  

      Having enough stored water plus filtering mechanisms is the first prep I recommend to all my friends who are new to prepping. Try the filters BEFORE you need them (so you’ll know how to clean them afterward, etc) – during an emergency is NOT the time to learn.   Your local outdoor store likely either has an in-store class or would be willing to show you how to use the filters, too.  I keep a ~14 day supply of water stored in my house and a one day supply  plus two Lifestraws in the car.  During hurricane season I keep the car at 3/4 full or higher at all times and can grab my bug out bag and be headed inland in 15 minutes or less.

      Welcome to The Prepared! We’re glad you’re here. 

    • 3

      Hi Henry 

      welcome and well done on taking steps towards being prepared!

      my advice would be read through the beginners guide (if you haven’t already) then the guides on water filters.

      Can you trust a handheld water filter – well that’s going to depend on what your water source is and what the contamination is!

      For example I have a stream near my house that runs on my neighbors property! Great 😁 (was my initial reaction) then having explored a bit more I realised this runs alongside the road for about 1/4 mile and the road drains into it so now I’m no longer thinking ‘fresh water’ but ‘diesel/tyre dust/motor oil’ now I’m fairly certain my handheld filters are not going to get these contaminants out so would I risk drinking it even if filtered? No. Would I use a bucket of this to flush my toilet if my water supply was interrupted? Yes. Would I drink the filtered water if I sourced it from further up stream before it was road contaminated? Yes

      So think about what your risks are; then what the equipment limitations are; then make a plan; then PRACTICE!

      Given that you’ve identified hurricanes and floods I would also suggest reading Lessons from Katrina  when you have time – it’s a long read but may give you some insights – the author bugged out not in so not helpful for dealing with the aftermath but has some useful tips gained from loved experience

      Good luck! 

      • 6

        Fortuitously a piece just came out in USA Today about lessons learned from Ian.  I love this particular quote: ““I will say, evacuation is about getting out of storm-surge areas, it’s not about driving to Georgia,” said John Renne, who researches evacuations as director of the Center for Urban and Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. “It shouldn’t take more than 24 hours to get out of a storm surge zone, it should take 15 to 20 minutes.  

        Every time there is a hurricane in our area people focus on the wind speed.  But 88% of deaths come from water. Water. In my area, at least, a lot of those deaths come from inland flooding – not from surge.

      • 2

        I want to second this.

    • 5

      I also live in FL and grew up on the TX Gulf and have lived in hurricane areas all my life.

      I strongly recommend being careful of getting advice from people who have no experience with hurricanes, just as I would be the last person to get advice on living in snowy areas. The main reason I say this is the media will show the worst impacted areas so people assume if a hurricane is come if to FL then the whole state needs to evacuate causing panic.


      Understand how hurricanes impact your area. If you are near a coastline be mentally prepared for a major impact, however once a hurricane hits land it diminishes quickly. No matter how far you live inland you can have an impact but that doesn’t mean you need to evacuate. If you are on any body of water within a few blocks you can have storm surge, therefore know if you are in a flood zone. The state has phenomenal evacuation zones set up, learn if you are in one and trust those. If a hurricane is approaching and there is a chance of it hitting you and it is major, go ahead and book a hotel room early. Be courteous and cancel if you don’t need it.


      Go through the articles on TP for that


      do you have trees that can fall on your house? Outbuildings secure? Have hurricane windows or need shutters? Don’t be one of those people that puts trash at the curb before a hurricane if there is no trash pickup before it arrives.


      Again if on water there is danger, get flood insurance. If you own a home consider installing a sump pump if you get water logged areas. Utility pumps on hand are great for flooding too. If your street doesn’t drain well in a minor storm, report to the city so they can address it before it becomes an emergency.


      avoid the panicked masses and do your food shopping, gas and propane (if needed) fill-up early. People flood the stores about 2-3 days before a potential hit, don’t wait that long. Even if you find you don’t need it later that’s ok.

      On drinking water, I don’t have a hand held but I have the Water Saver Geri can, it’s expensive though. I’ve never lost water in my 46 years of hurricanes, but I hear it can happen.


      I recommend taking notes from the last hurricane (no matter if it impacted you or not) and turn those notes into a check list. Each hurricane you will learn something new and you can modify, but it will prevent you from having to start over each time and think about what to do.

      I personally broke up the list into how much time I have. For example if it’s over a week away I start getting the outside ready (pick up debris and loose items, take down awnings ect) and start eating all the refrigerated food as much as I can. 5 days away I will buy supplies as needed, too off the gas, get all the cloths washed. 2 days before I’m ready but decide if evacuating, check in neighbors and loved ones, wash the rest of the cloths and retop gas.

      • 5

        Thanks for all this. Can confirm and add a bit here.

        When we lived through Andrew, we lost water AND electric for over a month – in the summer. Have basic preps, but if you’re inland, at least 10 miles from the coast, have ways to:

        – stay cool (battery fans, portable ice maker that can be hooked to a generator (ice is incredible for cooling anyone vulnerable). Learn about passive cooling and DON’T use a swamp cooler in humid climates – ever. 

        – keep mosquitoes at bay as they increase in intensity some weeks after the storm (have mosquito nets for beds, mosquito spray and perimeter mosquito treatments on hand). Bugs of all kinds are more common afterwards. 

        – cut and collect branches at your level (if you’ve never used a chainsaw or tree pole, this is NOT the time to learn, barter resources with a neighbor who can cut them before the city/state can take care of downed trees)

        – redundant cooking opportunities (you could be without power for weeks or even months, have different ways to warm up food, which is great for moral, especially if you have children or elderly with you).

        – extra medicines/appropriate antibiotics (even in our low hit area in North Central FL, it has been harder to book appointments for medical care since people from around the coasts are coming further inland for treatments while their doctor’s offices are indefinitely closed).

        – extra supplies to board up a broken window or tarp your home until the claims adjuster can finally get to your house

        – have mold and emergency moisture specialists’ numbers on hand in case. It’s likely your insurance company will have it’s own companies it prefers to work with, so call your insurance and learn more prior to the storm. As well, let your insurance companies know of any major home improvements BEFORE the storm comes. For instance, we put a metal roof on our home and hardened the roof trusses, so we let our insurance know prior to the storm to create fewer questions and issues if we need to file a claim down the line. Also, have the number of several tree companies on hand. Even if your house is completely fine, you are likely to have a lot of downed branches and trees even if you’re deep inland and don’t even see a CAT 1. Or your neighbor might.

        – if you want flood insurance, do so at LEAST 40 days prior to hurricane season. It takes 30 days for coverage, but can take longer if there are any issues. 

      • 3

        Excellent advice about insurance companies!

        Adding to that if you need to file a claim call ASAP so you got on the list sooner. Also if you need to take measures to prevent extra damage do so and don’t wait to hear back from the insurance company. Example if you have a roof leak, cover it. The insurance company will expect you to prevent further damage if you are capable.

      • 8

        This is all such great advice. I have lost water twice after hurricanes, once for almost a week (because of power loss to the treatment facility).

        Another piece of advice I’ll add to your wonderful thread:  Develop great relationships with workers prior to the storm. For example, I regularly have a tree service trim my trees to keep branches away from my roof, and I regularly write them a thank you note and sing their praises on review sites.  I regularly have my HVAC serviced – sing praises, give good reviews.  I overpay a handyman to do small repairs throughout the year. And so on.

        And after a hurricane when I need someone to cut up tree branches blocking my driveway, or I need an expert to repair my AC, or a handyman to fix damage – and the rest of the world does, too – I somehow magically end up on top of the list.  

        It’s nice to be nice. 

      • 3

        I love this advice, M.E., and it probably works for a lot of non-hurricane disasters— really anything where there will be a rush on repair or related services in a given region all at once. Also, it’s great to show appreciation for people who do this kind of challenging physical work in all kinds of conditions— and, I would imagine, have to deal with property owners when they are feeling some degree of financial duress and often may not be at their most considerate. 

      • 4

        When our house had a mini-flood thanks to a water line break, the project manager for the repairs mentioned in a passing conversation that she loved gluten-free biscuits but rarely got to have them because the flour is so expensive. When the project was over after many months I gave her a thank-you basket with all of the ingredients for the biscuits in it. She almost cried. She said she had been a project manager for over twenty years and not once – not ONCE – had anyone ever given her a thank you card or gift.  She is restoring people’s homes.  I understand that it is a business transaction – they provided a service, we paid them. But everyone wants to be appreciated.  

        I learned this in part from a project manager at my company when I was young. We had all worked extra hard on a difficult project and one day I came home and found a handwritten thank you note in my mailbox from him. That was all – not extra money, not a promotion, just a sincere and handwritten thank you.  

        And I treasure it to this day, and will remember him always as one of my favorite bosses. 

    • 5

      Hello Henry!   Welcome to the forum.  Zero knowledge of hurricanes on my part; but lots of knowledge about southern California wildfires and earthquakes.    Because I live in what is basically a desert, water purification is VERY important.    

      After years of ongoing research, our family has multiple redundancies for water.   Initially we purchased six Sawyer Mini’s, one for each family member, at  list-price.   We started buying extras over the years only when they go on steep sale.    Additionally, we have a case of 12 Smart Water bottles, unopened, just for the really cool use of the bottle when used with a Sawyer Mini.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXnQ3mCBo9s

      Sawyer’s and Smart Water is what I would personally recommend you buy immediately since hurricane season isn’t over.   If you can afford it, I’d also buy one or more Waterbob’s immediately.

      Second redundancy:   Waterbob    From watching the news, sounds like every household in hurricane states should have one of these for each bathtub!  Waterbob’s are not reusable,  you can’t pour water out and re-use later because they don’t dry out, but seems like a great way to have 100 clean gallons of water when you know a hurricane is heading your way for $35-$40.    I strongly suggest you also purchase a battery-powered liquid transfer pump since the pump that comes with the Waterbob is difficult to use.    Our family had a broken rural water line for about 3 weeks and used all 4 Waterbob’s with the battery powered pump.  Wonderful!!!!!

      Third redundancy:  Lifestraw   I purchase these when on steep sale to have on hand to give to others if needed.

      And, Henry, give us a shout to let us know if any of this was helpful!   This site is the best, but quite often we never hear back from new posters.    We’re all here to help!

      • 3

        I love the multiple redundancies concept and did not realize the Waterbobs both needed a pump and could not be reused. I don’t have one (yet), but I wonder if it could somehow be reused by adding chlorine bleach to a second filling?

        Lifestraws regularly go on sale on Black Friday etc. They are excellent “gateway gifts” to welcome people to prepping.  I gave one to a family member as a Christmas gift (I think it was $19?) with instructions to keep in his car in case he ever broke down far away from help. He was so intrigued that he now has a complete emergency kit and mini bug out bag in the car!

      • 2

        I bought a waterbob years ago before I knew how to store water and I said to myself “I’m good now, I got a whole bathtub worth of water available”.

        That is one prepping purchase I regret and wish I would have spent that money on a small water storage container. 

        Reason #1 – You have to think beforehand that you will need to fill it up. You can’t decide to fill it up after the water is knocked out to your home

        Reason #2 – Can’t transport it throughout the house

        Reason #3 – You can’t shower or bathe in that tub anymore because a giant water blob is living in there

        Reason #4 – Easily punctured and you need a pump to extract the water. My jerry can is so much more durable and can be poured.

        Reason #5 – Now I am learning from wildfireexpert that they are not reusable. And even if they were, still a lot of work to make sure all the moisture is out, it’s properly sanitized, no leaks have developed, and you fold it back up into the box. Just not worth the hassle.

      • 2

        I love this thread, Robert, because it makes me think of all of the many many times I’ve done things that turned out – not the way I wanted. I think a great thread would be “Preps I Regret”!

        For some reason it reminds me of a weird incident I may have mentioned during the great “Pooping in a Pail” debacle.  When that whole adventure happened, I took my solar showers and got them ready on the back deck. But WHY? There was nothing wrong with the incoming water to my house – only to the outgoing flow.  

        Just goes to show that during an unexpected situation your brain simply does not function as well as you think it might.  Hence the need to practice, practice and learn from our mistakes – and those of others!  I have now crossed “Water Bob” off my list of potential purchases….

      • 3

        M.E. – Wildfireexpert in this new post talks about their experience with the WaterBob and I now take back my regret of buying one. It does have it’s pros and cons, but now that I have it, I will keep it as a good emergency water container that would be useful in some situations.

        So maybe read over that post before you cross it off your wish list.

      • 2

        @Robert Larson – thanks for the gracious response and the link to my new thread with a review of the WaterBob.   I’ll address pro and con for the system at the new thread:  My experience of using a WaterBob during a personal disaster