With Tropical Storm Andrea bearing down on Florida’s Gulf Coast, and potentially carving a path of rain and high winds through Georgia, the Carolinas and up the Atlantic Coast, it’s a timely reminder that it is officially Hurricane Season.

Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30, and according to experts from Colorado State University, this season is being forecast to be “potentially hyperactive” with 18 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes.

It’s important to remember that a hurricane doesn’t just mean strong winds and heavy, soaking rainfall. There’s a potentially dangerous storm surge, inland flooding, tornadoes and rip currents. Knowing what you’re up against is key to keeping you and your family safe.

What Is A Hurricane?

Storms get named when they are tropical depressions, which means they have sustained winds at 38 mph. Tropical depressions become tropical storms once it has sustained winds at between 39 and 73 mph. Once the sustained winds top 74 mph, then a tropical storm becomes a hurricane. Hurricanes have different categories, rated 1 through 5, depending on the strength of the winds.

How To Prepare?

If you live in an area that is prone to being hit by hurricanes, you know that being prepared is the key to surviving the storm. Here are some tips to prepare you and your family:

  1. Get Your House Ready. You see footage all the time on the news, but head to your local home improvement store and get the structure of your house ready. That means plywood to board up windows and duct tape to have, just in case.
  2. Have Supplies Ready. Beat the rush that cleans out the shelves at your local market. Make sure you have several days-worth of bottled water for everyone in your house to drink, as well as more for cooking. Cooking supplies include a gas grill or stove of some sort and extra propane. If you have a charcoal grill, make sure you have plenty of charcoal – but ONLY use it outdoors if it’s safe to do so. Even if the storm passes, you don’t know for how long you’ll be without power, but at least you can cook outdoors. Also have plenty of non-perishable food items stocked up and ready.
  3. Other necessities include batteries and flashlights. You know your family’s needs best, so if you have a baby in the house, make sure you have plenty of extra diapers, wipes and baby food. If you have medication that is running low, make sure your prescription is filled.
  4. Clean Your Yard. Trimming back trees and clearing excess toys from your yard is important since the high winds are likely to toss them around – potentially at your house! If you have an extra car that doesn’t have a garage space to shelter it from the storm, this is a time to consider whether you need it. If you don’t need it, consider donating it to Wheels For Wishes benefiting Make-A-Wish. Not only are you getting rid of a car that would get badly damaged in a hurricane, you are helping to support Make-A-Wish. All proceeds from the car will help grant the wish of a child with a critical illness while giving you a tax deduction. Call 1-877-431-9474 or fill out this form to get the process started.
  5. Have Your Evacuation Route Ready. If you live in a coastal area and an evacuation order is placed, follow it. Things are replaceable; the lives of you and your family aren’t. Know where the nearest community storm shelters to your home are – and know whether you can bring your family pet with you or not. Not all shelters will take pets. Whether you are heading to a shelter or heading inland, have your bags ready to go so time isn’t wasted on packing.

Most importantly, be safe. Tropical storms are no joking matter, so hunker down and heed all the warnings the National Weather Service and state or local officials give. It may save your life in this situation.