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Blue water splashes on a window with blurry red and yellow background lights

Everyone knows that they should be prepared for as many types of disasters as possible. That’s why we have insurance, right? Unfortunately, in the event of a hurricane, few know exactly what to do in addition to grabbing their flashlights, batteries and 3 days worth of bottled water.  That’s where hurricane preparedness comes in.

Being prepared and getting organized before an emergency is one of the easiest ways to reduce stress and anxiety. Even better, is knowing HOW to get organized prior to a crisis situation. Below, I’ve created a very short, manageable list of things to gather and things to do prior to a hurricane.

Sustain Yourself

Plan to cook and eat whatever food in your freezer can be easily prepared before any long-term power outage sets in. Once the power is out, frozen foods spoil quickly, so discard anything you don’t anticipate being able to finish or share between now and the early hours of an outage.

Lay in a supply of non-perishable foods and bottled water to get you through the storm and beyond, as it may take grocery stores a few days to restock. If you have children in the house, pick up some small containers of shelf-stable milk, which requires no refrigeration.

For more information on how to keep food safe during and after a weather emergency, review FoodSafety.gov’s guidelines.

Check flashlights to make sure they work, and be sure you have an adequate supply of batteries. If you plan to use candles, safeguard matches in a moisture-proof container.

Gimme Shelter

Would you know how and where to turn off various utilities (like natural gas, water and electricity) and propane tanks if you were directed to do so? Write out instructions and safeguard them in plastic sheet protectors in a three-ring binder you can quickly grab during future emergencies.

After the storm, you may need to schedule professionals to turn some utilities back on. Create a page with contact numbers for each utility, plus numbers for electricians, plumbers and other service providers you might need, post-storm.

Emergency Evacuation

The key to not only surviving but thriving is to organize your resources in advance, before an evacuation is official. Start with the following tasks:

Withdraw cash from your bank’s ATM – consider how much money you’ll need per day for gasoline, food and incidentals.

Fill your gas tank and check your tire inflation.

Back up your computer(s). If you normally back up to an external drive, recognize that the same dangers that could harm your computer could impact any local backup option. Online, cloud-based computer back-up services like Carbonite, Mozy and Crash Plan are easy to use, reasonably priced, and will allow you to retrieve your data from anywhere.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but pack clothes from your laundry hamper. Your “dirty” clothes are the ones you like and wear the most, and which you’ll feel the most comfortable wearing when away from home. (Do pack clean socks and underwear, though.)

Egos have to evacuate, too — expect to have some bad hair days. Grab a baseball cap and leave your bulky hair-care products at home.

Gather essentials in a waterproof bag: you’ll need your driver’s license, cash, prescription medicines and contact lenses, insurance papers, spare keys, and a charger for your phone. I’ve created a Grab & Go checklist for the other essential items you’ll want to pack.

Preparation is the key to surviving during and after any weather-related emergency. To make sure you and your family are prepared for all eventualities, review the National Hurricane Center’s guidelines for creating a Disaster Supply Kit.

Whether you’re at home or on the road, be hurricane ready and safe

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