Houstonians and those living on the Gulf Coast are no strangers to hurricanes. Hurricanes can damage property, homes, and shatter lives. Make sure you and your loved ones have a plan to ensure protection.

1. Plan your evacuation route before it’s too late

In the event of a major storm, you may have to evacuate. While the local government will provide instructions, have an evacuation plan ready well before a natural disaster strikes. Be sure to research the nearest shelters with your pets in mind, take important documents, and practice this evacuation route enough to be comfortable.

2. Don’t get left out, keep non-perishable emergency supplies on hand

It is common for people to make panicked trips to stores and hoard supplies during a natural disaster. Be prepared beforehand and always keep non-perishables in stock. Important emergency supplies include:

  • Batteries
  • Candles or lamps with fuel
  • Matches
  • Tools for emergency home repairs (plywood, hammers, heavy plastic sheeting, etc.)
  • Prescription drugs
  • At least a three-day supply of drinkable water
  • Food that does not need to be refrigerated or cooked
  • First aid kit
  • A portable NOAA weather radio
  • A wrench and other tools
  • Flashlights

3. Create a home inventory for personal property

Taking inventory of personal property can help ensure that you’ve purchased enough insurance to replace damaged items. Make sure your home inventory list is among the other important documents taken during an evacuation.

4. Review your insurance policies

It is important to review your coverage and determine whether it is adequate enough to repair or rebuild the damages to your home. While homeowners insurance covers temporary repairs and reasonable additional living expenses, most policies do not cover flood damage, so be sure to look into flood insurance. Also, if you live on the coast, you may need a policy for protection against wind and wind-blown water damages.

5. Take steps to protect your home

Hurricane winds can turn landscaping materials into damaging objects. Be sure to take these steps to minimize damage to your home.

  • Use shredded bark instead of gravel or rock landscaping materials to lessen damage to doors and windows.
  • Cut weak branches and trees that can land on or in your home.
  • Install storm shutters to protect your windows from damage.
  • Use tempered glass for sliding doors and cover with plywood or shutters during a storm.
  • Replace old garage doors and tracks with wind pressure and impact protection.
  • If you live in a mobile home, be sure to secure it against storms and review your mobile home insurance policy.

It’s never too early to be prepared for a natural disaster. Make a plan with your family and practice it frequently so that your family knows what to do in the event of a hurricane.