Hurricane season is officially upon us. Depending on where you live in the country, this time of year can be somewhat uneasy. There can be many hurricanes each year, and while not all of them always affect the United States, they can cause devastation when they do. It’s important to be as prepared as possible if you live in the potential line of a hurricane.

Thankfully, having a plan ahead of time and always be ‘ready to go’ if the path of a hurricane looks as though it’s coming your way is always the best way solution. These massive storm systems are not to be ignored, so use these suggestions in your emergency readiness plan to stay ahead of the game.

1. Make Evacuation Plans
If you live in an area that has seen hurricane activity in the past, it’s important to have an evacuation plan. Your community may have evacuation plans already in place, and those should always be followed. But, having something specific for you and your family is equally-important. Your plans should include a specific route, and options you can use to shelter in place if necessary.

2. Prepare Your Home
A few days before a hurricane is expected to hit, do what you can to avoid things like water damage to your home. Make sure your gutters are completely cleared out. Invest in check valves for your plumbing to help in preventing backups. Many hurricanes come with heavy rain or flash flooding. Your sewer system may be working overtime to keep your home dry. Do what you can ahead of time to help it out!

3. Stay Connected
When a hurricane is less than 24 hours from hitting, do what you can to stay as connected to the outside world as possible. Keep checking for updates on the TV every 30 minutes or so. This will help you know what to expect and when to expect it. Now is also the time to charge your phone to make sure you don’t lose battery power when you might need it most. You may even want to charge a backup battery just in case you lose power during the storm itself. You may need to call for help or call family members to let them know you’re okay.

4. Open the Fridge
This is a quick tip not everyone thinks about, but it’s a good way to make your food last longer if you have to be stuck at home for awhile. Several hours before the hurricane is expected to hit, turn your fridge to its coldest setting. Try to avoid opening the door during this time. If you lose power, your food will stay colder longer and won’t go bad as quickly. If you’re stuck in your home with no power, you may be able to live off the food in your fridge for a longer period of time because of this simple technique.

5. Have the Right Supplies
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to prepare yourself for a hurricane is to have the right supplies on hand. Supplies that are important to you could look different for everyone. But, the basics should include a first aid kit, a flashlight and batteries, and a battery-powered radio. It’s also a good idea to have some kind of whistle, should you need to call for help loudly. Think about what could help you in a dangerous situation, and don’t be afraid to add it to your supply kit!

Dealing with a hurricane is never an easy ordeal. Even by being well-prepared, devastation can still occur. But, you can give yourself, your family, and your home more of a fighting chance by being as prepared as possible ahead of time, right up until the storm hits.