Whether you’ve lived in Florida your whole life or you’ve recently moved from out-of-state, preparing for hurricane season is essential. You want to “have all your ducks in a row” long before a hurricane warning is issued for our area. Read through our checklist to make sure you’re ready for hurricane season early this year.

Have a Preparedness Plan

In an emergency, some decisions have to be made on the fly. By having a preparedness plan you’ll save time and stress. Your plan should include two scenarios: sheltering in place and evacuation. Only you can decide whether you will stay or go, but you should be ready for both.

Make a laminated list (in case phones run out of battery and the power goes out) of your important phone numbers including family members you will stay with, your doctor(s), local emergency numbers such as hospitals or evacuation sites, and school phone numbers.

Have a stocked hurricane kit with first aid supplies, food, water, and warm clothing. You should be able to shelter in place for several days. Make sure you have any medications you or your family may need.

For an evacuation, make a plan for when you will leave, where you will go, and how you will get there. Make a plan for any pets or livestock you have and notify your emergency contact as soon as you hit the road.

Document Your Belongings

When to Document

Good documentation is the first step in a stress-free insurance claim. Having an up-to-date inventory will help you recover faster after a hurricane. You should update your inventory file updated at least once a year. You should also update your inventory any time you make a significant purchase or sell a significant item.

How to Document

Document all possessions in your home and on your property that have value: vehicles, electronics, furniture, jewelry, and so on. Take a picture of each relevant item or room, then label these pictures. The label should include where you bought the item and the make, model, or serial number if it has one. You should also walk through your home or property taking a video of the contents and describe them as you go.

How to Store Your Documentation

The best storage method is to use an online home inventory program. These programs let you upload photos, videos, receipts, and write descriptions for each. And yes, iCloud will work just fine! If you do decide to keep a printed version of your inventory file, consider keeping a copy in a separate location such as a safe deposit box.

Keep Your Family Occupied

If you have gone through a hurricane season in Florida, you know that hurricanes often change course. A hurricane watch or warning can be lifted at any time, so your kids may be home from school even after the threat of a hurricane has passed.

Keep your family occupied by having activities, toys, and snacks that are only used during a hurricane warning. These activities shouldn’t rely on the internet or electronics because the power may go out during the storm. Having special activities and treats makes an otherwise stressful situation a special family experience.

Don’t Panic and Insure Early

If you are new to Florida, experiencing a hurricane warning may be new and scary. There is no need to panic, though. Jacksonville, FL is known for having hurricanes change course before they touch down. If you’ve prepared and planned, even a serious hurricane will be manageable.

The most important part of preparing is to insure early. Just like you don’t want to run to the grocery store during a hurricane watch, you don’t want to shop for insurance after hurricane season has started. In Florida, hurricane season is from June 1st to November 30th. When you purchase or renew your home insurance, make sure your policy includes hurricane protection. There is no specific “hurricane insurance” coverage but there are elements of policies – like wind and flood – that will ensure you are properly covered. You will not be able to purchase a new policy or make changes to an existing one once a storm warning has been issued, so schedule a review sooner than later, insure early, and keep your policy up-to-date.