The Atlantic Ocean might be calm now, but that can change in a matter of days. Hurricanes can crop up anytime during the summer, and their path can lead right to the Tampa Bay area.

So don’t wait to prepare for a hurricane when it’s days -- or hours -- away.

Follow these six steps so you’re ready when the winds pick up.

#1) Make an Emergency Supply Kit

When Irma hit Florida last year, everyone ran to the stores to buy water, food, and supplies. The entire scene was chaos. Start assembling your emergency preparedness kit now so you’re ready when the storm is first announced.

FEMA created a list of items to include so you’re covered when the power goes out.  

#2) Prepare The Exterior of Your Home

Conduct a step-by-step review of your home and identify anything that needs to be repaired or secured ahead of hurricane season. This might be a screen door that is off its hinges or window shutters that bang in the wind.

Also, conduct a landscaping review of any plants or trees that could cause damage during the storm. Removing a tree branch now could save your house when a hurricane comes.

#3) Create a Communication and Evacuation Plan

Do you know where to go if you need to evacuate? Create a plan for how you will leave the state, where you will stay, and who will travel with you.

You should also create a communication plan for how you will check in with family and friends to let them know that you are okay. When the time comes, you can spring into action instead of trying to decide what is best.

#4) Check Your Flood Insurance

Many people assume flood insurance is covered by their homeowner’s policy; however, this isn’t always the case. Homeowners policies rarely cover structural damage from flooding or loss of personal property.

Also, many flood insurance policies have 30-day waiting periods before they go into effect so you need to act early. You can’t get a flood insurance policy to protect your home if a hurricane is just days away. Plan ahead and learn more about why you need flood insurance in Florida.

Oracle Insurance in South Tampa has a terrific piece on why flood insurance is important for all Floridians: even those that live on higher land. You can also request a quote from them as flood insurance is regulated through the National Flood Insurance Program.

#5) Prepare Financially for Disaster Costs

Even if you have flood insurance, you will need to cover added expenses when preparing for a hurricane. You will need to board up your home, pay for gas to evacuate, and cover the costs of a hotel while you are away.

Consider taking out a few hundred dollars in cash and storing it somewhere safe. This will give you funds to evacuate and help if ATMs don’t work and banks are closed after the hurricane.  

#6) Take Your Pet to the Vet

This may seem like an unusual step, but many hurricane shelters require pet owners to show proof of registration and vaccination before they will admit them. So as you prepare your family for the storms, prepare your pet as well.

Along with updating their vaccinations, make sure they have flea and tick medication, are microchipped in case they get lost, and have a comfortable carrier and toys to keep them calm through the whole process. This is a stressful event for your pets, too!

Plan Ahead. Stay Safe!

Following these six steps will give your peace-of-mind when a hurricane approaches our coasts. Your home, your family, and your pets will all be protected through even the worst storms!

If you're looking for more content about living in Tampa Bay, check out 813area, your free local guide to Tampa! 

Image courtesy of Unsplash.