Getting your home and family ready to weather the storm - when and if it comes thundering your way - is the key to hurricane safety.
There are a few simple yet effective things you can do to secure your home and belongings before a hurricane is imminent.
Among the most important is having an emergency plan in place so that every family member knows what to do, and who to call if family members become separated during a hurricane.
These hurricane safety tips can help you prepare your home and family for the storms ahead.
Whipping winds and rain - the effects of a hurricane can be devastating.
Strong winds that enter a house through broken windows or a patio or garage door will weaken the structure of your home, exposing it to more significant damage.
To protect your windows from breaking, have storm shutters installed, or create your own by buying precut sheets of 3/4-inch (2cm) plywood to fit each window.
Make sure they fit snugly and can be attached to the window quickly.
Many companies offer braces that will protect your vulnerable patio and garage doors from high winds.
You might want to consider installing a new garage door that has been hurricane rated.
Many people don't think about the wind turbines that dot their roofs, though they're vulnerable to being blown off during high winds, leaving a gaping hole for the rain to come into your home.
Make sure there are no leaks in your roof and check the wind turbine regularly.
Consider replacing the turbine with a style of wind vent that is less vulnerable to violent gusts.Keep large plastic trash bags and furniture drop cloths on hand to spread over furniture, computers, and other home valuable in the event that your roof springs a leak.
During storm season, clean your yard of all loose objects - such as potted plants, bicycles, trash cans, and patio furniture.
These items can become lethal flying weapons in the grip of a raging storm.
Preparation is the best protection against the dangers of a hurricane or tornado. When a hurricane or tornado is heading your way, here's what to do:
Make sure you and your family have a personal evacuation plan in the event of a hurricane, and a safe zone in your home in the case of a tornado.
Determine where or how you'll find each other should a hurricane hit while you're all at your various locations during the day.
Choose several places - a friend's home in another town, a shelter, or a hotel.
Each family member should keep the phone numbers of your designed spots and a local road map handy.
If your regular routes are clogged or closed, you may need to take unfamiliar roads.
Before a tornado is headed your way, pick a spot in your building where family members can gather to wait it out in relative safety.
It might be your basement; if there is no basement, choose a hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place free of clutter.
Be sure you have a disaster kit stocked for your family, as well as the following supplies you'll need in case of a hurricane or tornado:
Remember, you're at the mercy of Mother Nature when she unleashes her most active elements. (And she's probably not as lovely a mother as you are.)
If you put these safety measures into place now - and prepare your home and family before storms darken the skies - you'll rest easier knowing that while hoping for the best, you're ready for the worst.