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Hurricane season starts on June 1st and ends on November 30th, according to AccuWeather. Are you and your home prepared? Living in Florida I’ve been through more than a few storms including Hurricane Andrew (which happened to be on my 18th birthday), Katrina and Wilma. And I’m sure I’m missing a couple.

Hurricanes can wreak havoc in several ways from torrential rains to lashing winds and storm surges, below are important hurricane safety tips to keep your home and family safe and prepared for hurricane season.

While technology has made hurricane forecasting more accurate, like anything else in life it’s not precise. It is far better to veer on the side of caution and prepare for the worst then to be caught off guard and not have the things you need to weather the storm.

To Evacuate or to Stay

No one likes to leave their home, it’s uncomfortable and scary, but coastal residents especially need to have evacuation plans before a warning is issued. If you are required to evacuate you need to know where to go – what church, shelter or school is used as an evacuation center and what route will you need to take to get there? As storms progress, evacuation routes are often closed, have more than one route planned.

If you stay in your home, secure your home with exterior shutters and stay indoors. A lull doesn’t mean the storm has passed; it is often the storm’s eye. Don’t go outside until authorities have announced that danger has passed. Many people have suffered injuries and even death in these instances when there were fallen wires, trees and unknown damages that pose injury risk.

Emergency Supplies

Check your property and secure all lawn and garden decorations. Remove any debris and secure anything and everything that you can. Check the gutters and trees and shrubs.

Stock up on bottled water, first-aid supplies, batteries, flashlights, canned food, a battery-operated radio, medications, candles, matches, road maps and most importantly make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas.

Have all important papers and documents in one safe location and readily available should you have to leave.

Withdraw some cash to have on hand in case you find that you can’t get to an ATM machine after the storm.

General Storm Safety

Listen to TV and/or radio for regular updates and follow directions. If asked to evacuate, do so. If asked to turn off utilities, do so, it’s for your own safety.

Stay indoors and stay away from windows, especially if you don’t have shutters up.

For more information on hurricane safety, visit the Hurricane Safety Center and FEMA. The take home message if nothing else is to put safety first. I can’t tell you the amount of times that I’ve personally seen friends and even family members not expect the storm to come or to be so severe and it’s led to more problems and unnecessary damage to homes and vehicles. Take the time to secure your property.

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