No one wants to imagine a hurricane affecting their home, but if you live on or near the coast, it is a possibility that you have to be prepared for. While the winds are fierce and damaging, that is not the worst of it. The flooding is even worse, as it comes later and can flood your entire home — damaging everything in its path. That is why you want to be sure that you take the time to do some prep work in advance of a hurricane to protect you and your family as much as possible. Here are six ways for you to be prepared in case of a hurricane.

1. Build an emergency kit.

Having an emergency kit is one of the most important things that you can do to prepare for a hurricane. Include enough water and non-perishable food for each person in your family for three days, as well as basics, including:

  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Copies of important papers
  • Cell phone chargers
  • Extra prescription medication
  • Baby formula and diapers
  • Cash
  • Matches or lighters
  • Manual can opener
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio

2. Make a family communication plan.

Nothing is more chaotic than finding out your home is in the path of a major hurricane. By making a family communications plan ahead of time, you can ensure that everyone knows whom to contact to let everyone else know they are okay. Choose one family member who lives out of town for everyone to contact, so that this one person is the communication center for your whole family.

3. Know the risks in your area.

Is the area where you live flood-prone? It is important to learn the elevation of your property, as well as whether there are any dams or levees in the area, to determine if your property is at a higher risk of being affected by tidal flooding or storm surge. While it is impossible to know for sure, this can give you some indication of what to expect.

4. Learn the evacuation route.

Most coastal areas have a hurricane evacuation route. Be sure that you know what that route is and plan where you would go if you needed to evacuate due to a hurricane. Making a critical decision in the heat of the moment can be difficult, and it can be stressful for everyone. If you have a plan in mind, then you will be able to execute it and make the best of a bad situation.

5. Prepare your property.

Know what to do to secure your property, including covering your windows, whether with permanent storm shutters or boarding them up with plywood, as well as trimming trees and ensuring that the roof is securely fastened to the frame. Reinforcing garage doors and bringing in outdoor furniture and garbage cans is also important. Anything that can fly around needs to be secured. Make sure you have adequate homeowner's insurance or renter's insurance to cover potential damage from a storm. 

6. Consider buying a generator.

A generator can be a lifesaver if your power is out. While the first responders will be working very hard to get the electricity back on as soon as possible, it may still take a while. A generator will ensure that you can at least run the necessities for a little while.

7. Put important papers in a fireproof and waterproof safe.

There are some papers that you will need to have. These include deeds to property, titles, social security cards, insurance policies, wills, and a household inventory for your insurance. This inventory needs to include a list of what is in your home, as well as photos of each room and of items that have a particularly high value, like jewelry or collector’s items.

Making preparations for weather-related events may seem like overkill, but it can make all the difference in how you and your family make it through the ordeal. By doing some preparation now, you can ensure that your family knows what to do and can make smart decisions even when under the stress of the moment. A hurricane may be stressful and traumatic, but with a little forethought and planning, you can make it easier for you and your family.