PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB-TV) – The Atlantic Hurricane Season officially begins June 1, but the best time to start preparing for a tropical natural disaster is well before the threat of one exists. Today, you can discover your risk, find out if you live in a flooding-prone area or evacuation zone, talk to insurance agents about coverage costs and create a plan for protecting yourself and home from a hurricane or tropical storm.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has outlined some steps to take when developing a hurricane prep plan. You’re encouraged to build one of your own using the guidelines below.

Step 1: Determine Your Risk

  • Based off your location and home structure, determine what impacts of a tropical system could do substantial damage to your property. Tropical systems pack a punch with multiple impacts – storm surge, tornadoes, rip currents, strong winds and flooding rains. Regardless of a storm system’s strength or category, the impacts can be catastrophic.
  • It is also important to consider the fact that impacts of a storm can be felt from hundreds of miles away.

Step 2: Develop an Evacuation Plan

  • First you need to know if you live in an evacuation zone. This way, if an order is given, you know to go and initiate your evacuation plan.
  • Pack a bag with supplies and plan several routes for travel.
  • Make sure you have a plan for your pets to go with you or have them taken care of by someone in a less-impacted area of the storm.

Step 3: Assemble Disaster Supplies

  • Once you have an evacuation plan prepared, you’ll want to gather a bunch of items to bring with you. Food and water supplies should last each person in the family for at least three days, ideally a week.
  • Have a full tank of gas, a radio, batteries, phone chargers, portable/solar chargers, medicine & prescriptions, cash, clothing and toiletries.

Step 4: Get an Insurance Check-up

  • Check-in with your insurance agent to review your policy and coverages. If you don’t have flooding insurance, you can enlist for a program (it may require a 30 day waiting period). Keep proof of your insurance documentation with you when you evacuate.
  • Note: home and renters insurance doesn’t cover flooding.
  • Resource: National Flood Insurance Program

Step 5: Strengthen/Protect Your Home

  • Whether you’re riding out the storm at home or evacuating, take precautionary measures to help your home withstand wind impacts. Take note of problem areas of your home that may become damaged from the storm (i.e. windows, doorways, garage, roof).
  • Cover your windows and doors with plywood, steel or aluminum panels.
  • Secure loose outdoor items.
  • Move your vehicle to a safe location.
  • Trim trees.
  • Secure doors.
  • The garage is structurally the weakest part of a home. Board it up to deter wind from blowing it in.

Step 6: Help Your Neighbor

  • We’re all in this together, so be a helping hand to those around you and they’ll do the same for you. Help your neighbors and the elderly prepare for a storm. Check-in with them before, during and after the tropical system occurs.

Step 7: Complete a Written Plan

  • Write down your hurricane preparedness and evacuation plan to share with family and friends.
  • Have a contact list with at least one member out of the impact area.
  • Keep critical documents together.

Stay with News 13 WMBB throughout the season as our team of meteorologists forecasts potential tropical activity and keeps you up-to-date on storm impacts, severity and necessary preparations.