(WKRG) — Preparation is key. The last thing anyone wants to be doing when a storm is approaching is running around to get supplies and frantically coming up with a plan. That just adds stress to an already stressful situation. Having everything worked out ahead of time can put your mind at rest and ensure your post-storm process goes smoother than it otherwise would.

Prepare—even if you live inland. Hurricane Zeta in 2020 was a perfect example of how a storm’s effects can extend well inland from the coast. Zeta was a category three storm with 115 mph winds when it came ashore in southeast Louisiana. The storm then raced inland into southern Mississippi and lower Alabama at 25 to 30 mph. This meant the storm didn’t have time to weaken substantially, which allowed it to spread its destructive winds much farther inland. As a result, parts of Greene County, Mississippi and Washington and Clarke Counties in Alabama saw extensive damage in the form of downed trees and power lines. It took several weeks to get power fully restored. Even areas away from the immediate coast should have a plan in place for hurricane season.

Hurricane season preparedness checklist:

  • Take photos and maintain a list of all your possessions, including serial numbers and value. Keep copies of all information digitally or in a safe place outside your home.
  • Take photos of the total interior and exterior of your home. Use the panorama feature of your camera.
  • Scan or take photos of important documents and keep copies in a safe deposit box, with someone you trust, or saved as digital files.
  • Back up your computer and phone regularly. Keep important documents on your phone, flash drive or external hard drive that you can bring should you need to evacuate. Use password protection.
  • Check your insurance coverage. Flood damage is not typically covered by homeowners insurance.
  • National Flood Insurance Program: www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program
  • Find out if your home meets current building codes for high winds. Homes that meet or exceed current high-wind standards have a much better chance of standing up.
  • Institute for Business and Home Safety: www.disastersafety.org
  • Purchase commercial shutters or prepare 5/8 inch plywood panels for all window openings. Store plywood flat so it doesn’t warp.
  • Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio and program it for your county and the type of alerts you want.
  • Get small, portable, battery-powered devices like a digital TV and an AM/FM radio.
  • Install the free WKRG News 5 app and WKRG Weather App. Get a streaming radio app for your smartphone.
  • Reinforce garage doors. Due to their size, garage doors are often the first part of a home to fail in high wind.
  • If you do not live in a mobile home or in a surge evacuation zone, designate an interior room with no windows or external doors as a safe room.
  • Stock up on non-perishable food, emergency supplies, and a disaster supply kit.
  • Charge all batteries for phones, flashlights, radios, and other devices.
  • Invest in solar-powered chargers for devices and batteries.
  • Keep a can of spray paint for numbering plywood. Worst case scenario, it can be used to mark property for insurance purposes.
  • Ensure that landscaping and trees do not become a wind hazard. High winds can blow rock and gravel. Tall trees close to your home may fall. Trim the dead, weak or dangerous overhanging branches from all trees.
  • Keep gutters clean and downspouts clear of any debris.
  • Few mobile or manufactured homes can withstand hurricane force winds. Check straps, tie-downs and anchors for mobile homes. Even if they are tied down, it is very risky to stay in a mobile or manufactured home in the threat of high wind.
  • Know your neighborhood’s and your home’s vulnerability to wind, storm surge, and flooding.
  • If you live in a flood-prone neighborhood, store important photos and documents in a watertight container kept high off the floor or in the attic.
  • Have an out-of-state friend as a family contact so that all your family members have a single point of contact in case you must evacuate or abandon your home.
  • Ensure a plan is developed for any family members with special needs, especially those who need daily assistance or have difficulty moving.
  • Plan for pets if evacuation is necessary. Bring a pet carrier, leash and muzzle. Ensure pets are collared, tagged, and up-to-date on vaccinations.
  • Keep emergency phone numbers saved in your phone’s contact list as well as posted in your home (like on the fridge). Make sure your children know how and when to call 911.
  • If you have a landline, make sure one phone has a wire to the wall jack and does not require batteries.
  • Know the elevation levels of your property and how it compares to local floodplain maps. Even if it has never flooded before, floods can still happen because floodplains change over time naturally and with development.
  • In high-risk, flood-prone areas, keep on hand materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, plastic garbage bags, lumber, shovels, work boots and gloves. Call your county EMA to learn how to construct proper protective measures around your home.
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood so that your evacuation routes are not cut off. Avoid driving into water of unknown depth. Moving water can quickly sweep vehicles away.
  • Never let children play in flooded areas
  • Get ahead of the crowds even before a Watch is issued—do anything you can do before a storm arrives, rather than after. Gas your vehicles, get cash and pay bills in advance.
  • When a watch is issued, storm effects are possible within 48 hours.
  • Listen for safety instructions from local officials and follow forecast updates.
  • If you can do so safely, store gasoline for your generator, chainsaw and vehicles.
  • Moor or store your boat.
  • Listen to warnings for rip currents which become common and stronger with approaching tropical weather. Stay out of the water.
  • Once a Hurricane Warning is issued, expect hurricane wind or storm surge within 36 hours.
  • Prepare to install window shutters or plywood panels.
  • Fill bathtubs and jugs with water for flushing or cleaning in case of loss of water service.
  • Turn refrigerator and freezer to maximum cold and limit opening them.
  • Put vehicles in garage & brace them against the garage door.
  • Secure all lawn furniture or outdoor objects that could be projectiles in high winds or float away in flood water. Complete installation of shutters or window coverings.
  • Limit alcohol use so you can respond to anything during the storm, including evacuation.
  • Be prepared to go to your designated safe room when the storm strikes. Remember, there is little to no wind in the eye of a hurricane, so that’s only the halfway point of the wind and rain. Don’t leave your safe room until directed to do so by local officials or you are 100% certain the worst has passed.
  • While newer high-rise condos are built to stringent wind standards, the wind at higher floors will be stronger than on lower floors. Stay with a friend on a lower floor.
  • Turn off and unplug unused appliances so they aren’t vulnerable to a damaging surge of electricity during power fluctuations.
  • Do not expect any emergency response due to the danger of traveling in the midst of a hurricane or tropical storm.
  • Limit phone use to only what is necessary to save battery life.