As photos of people cruising around flood-ridden streets in kayaks circle the world, one has to think about how these images came to be. Turns out, it takes experience – and preparation – to cruise around flooded cities in a personal vessel after a natural disaster of that magnitude.

There are hurricane preparation lists out there, but only a true hurricane veteran knows a few of these expert tips on preparing for a hurricane.

Stock Up On Essentials Before A Hurricane Is Announced

If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, your best bet is to keep a hurricane essential kit in your house year around. If you wait until a hurricane is announced, or worse yet, when you know for sure you’ll be in its path, you risk running into mayhem at stores and not getting the supplies you need.

Stock up on bottled water, batteries, lighting sources, canned food, a first aid kit and hurricane panels if you need them, among others will help you avoid unnecessary stress and time to focus on preparing for the storm. Check expiration labels once a year and make sure to replace what’s needed. At the peak of hurricane season, try to keep your car gas tank full as much as possible.

If you do need to go to the store, please be mindful of your community and only take the supplies you need for your family.

Secure Everything

What may seem like a no-brainer is, in fact, one of the most common oversights we see during hurricanes. Anything and everything that could possibly be swept away by water or wind should be stored, secured or moved to higher ground. We’re talking patio furniture, garbage cans, fridges, boats, bicycles, debris, and yes, kayaks.

When Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys in September 2017, anecdotes of refrigerators, jacuzzis and outdoor furniture floating down flooded streets quickly emerged. Asides from the personal property loss no one wants to endure, the real risk of not securing outdoor and first floor objects is the danger they pose to structures and people. It’s common for outdoor furniture, debris and branches to break glass windows, doors or damage cars.

The same goes for trees and tall bushes. Just think that anything that could possibly break – or fly – will.

Prepare For Blackouts

If recent history has taught us anything it’s that you must be prepared for long periods without electricity. It’s been almost a year since Hurricane Maria and there are still people in Puerto Rico that don’t have power…

Make sure to make conscious decisions on your lighting choices and have the necessary tools for each (batteries, matches, gas, etc). If you are using candles, be very careful of open flames, wind and children. Never, ever, leave a candle unattended.

During and after a storm, try to focus on the truly important things; your health, your community’s well being and how to contribute to its recovery. It’s not the end of the world if the kids have to go without iPads for a few days or you have to drink water at room temperature.

Overestimate Every Storm

Finally, we can’t emphasize this enough. Overestimate EVERY storm. Some people get so comfortable with the notion of hurricanes that they don’t even secure their windows or step outside during the storm.

People not being prepared, not securing their belongings and being where they are not supposed to be are some of the biggest risks there are during a storm.

Get Flood Insurance

Remember that homeowners insurance does not cover floods. You need a separate flood insurance policy to protect your belongings and property one of the most common side effects of natural disasters – flooding.

Don’t think you can get flood insurance when a hurricane is announced either. FEMA has a  30-day wait period before the policy is in effect.

Hurricanes are unpredictable. What one minute can be a small, disorganized storm, can transform into a powerful hurricane in a matter of days. Make sure to prepare, stay inside and be safe!

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