by Brandy Abalos

Those who live in an area with a high risk of hurricanes should take time to prepare for them. There are steps to take well before bad weather comes and actions to take closer to the storm.

Make a Plan

The most important part is to plan for the hurricane. Determine what levels of severity are safe to stay at home through and when evacuation is necessary. In case of evacuation, locate potential safe places and have emergency necessities on hand. Incorporate children and pets into the plan, as well.

Secure the Home’s Exterior

Well-maintained homes have a better chance of weathering the storm. Large objects outdoors can become projectiles in the hurricane’s wind. Trim shrubs and large tree branches. Secure patio furniture, large potted plants and statutes to the ground or patio. Keep bikes and toys in a garage or indoor location. It is unsafe to tidy up outdoors when a hurricane is looming outside.

Secure and Take Pictures of All Valuables

Secure any valuables in storage facilities, lockboxes or inside the home. Take pictures of the condition of those items. If an item is damaged, the photos can prove that to the insurance company when the claim is filed.

Move Cars to a Safe Location

Move cars to the highest point possible. Avoid parking them under large trees, power lines or in areas that flood frequently.

Keep Fuel and Power Supplies Stocked

Keep a full tank of gas and containers with extra fuel on hand during hurricane season. Homeowners who rely on propane should be sure to keep it stocked. Keep cell phones charged and always have a backup power bank or battery. Test generators annually and ensure plenty of fuel is available to power them for a significant amount of time. Consider investing in solar power to supplement energy needs during and after a hurricane.

Store Important Documents Safely

Keep important documents like marriage licenses, birth certificates, legal documents, insurance policies and financial papers in a safe location, like lockbox or bolted safe. Ensure a loved one who does not live in the hurricane zone knows where the documents are.

Prepare an Emergency Kit

Gather emergency essentials and place them in easily accessible totes. Kits should include flashlights, a portable radio, extra batteries, bottled water, blankets, comfortable clothing, toiletries and non-perishable foods. Rotate these items periodically to ensure the food and other products are fresh.

Identify Which Room in the House is the Best Safe Shelter

Select a safe room to shelter in during the hurricane. High winds can damage windows and doors, so the safe space should be on the first floor and have as few windows as possible. If it does have windows, board them up when the storm comes. Store emergency kits in this room.

Preparing for a Hurricane Requires Constant Vigilance to Ensure Safety

Hurricanes can be frightening, but it is possible to stay safe with enough preparation. Make a plan and gather all necessary items before any storm warning. When a hurricane warning is issued, collect the emergency items and look over them one last time. Don’t be one of the people who have to rush out of their house last minute to retrieve something. Having emergency supplies and a plan allows people to focus on staying out of the storm’s way and protecting themselves when it comes.