Hurricane season officially starts June 1st, are you prepared? Don’t wait until Hurricane Gaston is knocking on your windows to have a plan in place. While a hurricane party can be fun, you want to make sure you're prepared if the hurricane is a serious party pooper.
Here are 10 steps you can start taking right now to prepare for the season.
1. Start Saving
The first thing to do in preparation for a hurricane is start saving money. Having an emergency fund is always a great plan, but make sure to account for storm specific expenses. From evacuation costs to possible insurance deductibles for damage, the hurricane can wreak havoc on your finances as well as your home. Programs like Save My Change can help you get started saving money.
2. Put Away Cash
No, don’t bury it in the backyard, you will never remember where you put it. But you do want to keep some cash on hand for gas, food and supplies for either an evacuation or power outage. Remember, if your power is out, the ATM or branch’s will likely be out as well.
3. Verify Your Insurance
If you own your home, make sure you are set up with your insurance company. Double check your flood and hurricane insurance, as it may not be standard in your home insurance. This is also a good time to look at extra coverage for any vehicles you own.
If you are a renter, you can still check with your renter’s insurance about coverage on your property.
4. Collect and Protect Your Documents
While it seems like we know when the hurricanes are coming, they like to switch lanes faster than the folks on I -4. This means evacuations can happen quickly. Upload your important documents to the cloud, then store the original copies in plastic bags, so they will be protected in the event of a flood. For a list of documents to protect, visit Ready.gov.
5. Get an Emergency Credit Card
If you don’t already have an emergency credit card, this would be a reason to consider one. These give you the flexibility to make purchases and cover unexpected expenses. This will also help for easy documentation 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
Have your plan ready to go. Map out your evacuation and be sure to coordinate with any local family members, especially if you need to help any elderly or disabled family evacuate safely.
Make sure you know the process of your children’s school, so you can understand how to work with their plan. If you have pets, remember your route will need to include pet friendly hotels.
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. We also recommend some snacks so no one gets hangry.
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. We all remember the toilet paper fiasco.
10. Bookmark Important Resources
Bookmark important resources on your computer and your phone for quick access later. It can also be helpful to print out a list of addresses and numbers you may need if you are 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
Overall, being prepared is key. Take the time to get a plan in place, so when a hurricane does hit, you will be ready to keep you and your family safe.