Hurricane season officially starts June. When it comes to preparation, the time is now. Waiting until you hear news of a hurricane heading your way adds undue stress. Even if you aren’t in a flood zone or you’ve never been affected by a hurricane before, it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry. Here are 10 steps you can start taking right now to prepare for the worst.
1. Start Saving
The first thing to do in preparation for a hurricane is start saving money. Whether it’s unexpected evacuation expenses, possible insurance deductibles for damages, or simply funds for food and gas, it’s a good idea to keep emergency funds on hand. The more you can save in advance, the better.
2. Verify Your Insurance
If you’re a homeowner, check with your insurance company to see what coverage you have for hurricane damages. You’ll more than likely want to add flood insurance, too, since it isn’t standard with most plans. This is also a great time to look into flood and hurricane damage coverage for any vehicles you own. If you’re a renter, check with your renter’s insurance provider, as well, about coverage for your property. For those who rent and don’t have renter’s insurance, now is the perfect time to pick a plan.
3. Collect and Protect Your Documents
Evacuations can happen quickly, and you likely won’t have time to gather your important documents together. The best thing you can do now is upload all your important documents to the cloud. Once you’ve uploaded everything to the cloud, store the original copies in plastic bags, so they’ll be protected in the event a flood occurs. For a list of documents to protect, visit Ready.gov.
4. Put Away Some Cash
If the power goes out and the weather is severe enough, you might not have access to an ATM or credit union branch. Make sure you keep some cash on hand for gas, food, and supplies during an evacuation or extended power outage. Community First’s Save My Change program can easily help you save money.
5. Get an Emergency Credit Card
Emergency credit cards give you the flexibility to make purchases during events like a hurricane. Open up the card, but don’t use it until the need arises. This will not only help you have the funds you need for an emergency, but it will help you document those purchases for insurance purposes.
6. Set up Digital Banking
Make sure you have access to all your accounts online. Again, your credit union won’t be open in the event of an evacuation, so you’ll need to be able to access your banking information via another means.
7. Get an Evacuation Plan Ready
Sometimes you’ll only have a day (or even just a few hours) to evacuate for a hurricane. There isn’t enough time to think about your plan when the worst happens. That’s why it is important to start planning now.
Be sure to check with your children’s school, so you can understand their evacuation plan. Do your research to find local shelters, and if you have pets, make sure you check on whether they’ll be allowed to join you or if you’ll need to make other plans.
Coordinate with all your local family members, as well, and make sure that you have a solid plan for helping your elderly or disabled family members evacuate safely.
8. Create a Hurricane Survival Kit
Even tropical storms can cause flooding and power outages, so make sure you have a hurricane survival kit ready for severe weather. This kit should include prescriptions, a first-aid kit, non-perishable food, batteries, flashlights, a manual can opener, pet food, and a battery operated TV or radio. The rule of thumb for water is one gallon per person for each day.
9. Buy Supplies Now
If you wait until a hurricane is headed your way, you might find yourself unable to buy the appropriate supplies. Many stores run out of the essentials as soon as word gets out about an approaching hurricane. That’s why it’s important to buy supplies now. This includes not only your hurricane survival kit but also plywood, pet carriers, and anything else you might need for an evacuation.
10. Bookmark Important Resources
Go ahead and bookmark the most important resources now. Make sure to bookmark them on your phone and laptop/desktop. It can also be helpful to print out a list of addresses and numbers you might need if you’re without access to the internet. Here are some helpful resources that we recommend:
- National Weather Service – The leading government resource for all things weather.
- National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association – This is the parent organization of the National Weather Service, and it is an excellent resource for not just weather, but marine forecasts and news as well.
- Jax Ready – A local resource app for Jacksonville, FL to help you monitor the weather and get information on evacuation plans.
- Hurricane Central – Up-to-the-minute hurricane information from First Coast News
- Tracking the Tropics - Up-to-the-minute hurricane information from News4Jax
- FLASH – Federal Alliance for Safe Homes – Helpful information for safeguarding your home during a storm
- City of Jacksonville – City of Jacksonville website for information on all local government resources
- JEA – Jacksonville Electric Authority website for information about power outages
- Red Cross – Helpful information about hurricane preparation as well as financial assistance if you are affected by a storm
- Humane Society – Resources for protecting and sheltering your pets during a hurricane
- Know Your Zone – Detailed information about evacuations zones as well as a resource to find out your evacuation zone
The time for hurricane preparedness is now. Make sure you're following these 10 steps to be financially ready and physically safe from any impending storms this hurricane season.