When a storm is forecast:
First, know your terms. A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions - sustained winds of 74 mph or higher - are possible within 48 hours. A hurricane warning means hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours.
Check with your insurance company to see what is covered. Separate policies are needed for flood damage.
Inventory your personal property to help in filling out claims. List descriptions and take pictures.
Remove diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
Put up hurricane shutters or buy half-inch outdoor plywood for each window of your house. Install anchors and drill holes in the plywood for fast installation.
Check tie-downs and plan to evacuate if you live in a mobile home. Be ready to drive 20 to 50 miles inland to find a safe place.
When a storm threatens:
Make sure you have a battery-powered radio with fresh batteries; a flashlight, candles or lamps; matches, a first-aid kit, canned or packaged food that can be prepared without cooking or refrigeration; several days' supply of drinking water (1 gallon per person per day) and a full tank of gas in your car.
Pack protective clothing, rainwear and bedding or sleeping bags.
Assemble an adequate supply of essential medicines, particularly prescriptions. Go to the bank for cash. Carry credit cards or make sure they are in a safe place.
Locate ahead of time a place or places to take shelter if an evacuation is ordered. Have a map handy.
If an evacuation is ordered, leave.
Pets may not be allowed in shelters for health or space reasons. Contact the local humane society for information on animal shelters.
Children and the elderly have special needs. Put together whatever is necessary and make it portable.
Teach family members how and when to turn off natural gas, electricity and water. (Professionals will have to turn them back on.) Teach children how and when to call 911, police or fire departments and which radio stations to tune to for emergency information.
Develop a plan in case family members are separated and a plan for reuniting.
Ask an out-of-state relative to serve as a family contact. After a hurricane, it often is easier to call long distance than locally. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address and phone number of the contact person.
Watch television, listen to the radio or check the Internet for hurricane position, intensity and expected landfall.
Put important papers in waterproof containers (take them along upon evacuating), and move all valuables to higher levels in the home.
Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys and garden tools. Try to anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.