15 Ways To Prepare for Hurricane Season (And Avoid Financial Disaster)

You can’t prevent a nasty storm from arriving, but you can prepare for it.
Updated May 15, 2024
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Hurricane season is right around the corner. Officially, the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

There is no way to prevent a hurricane from arriving at your doorstep, but you can prepare yourself financially and take other steps that will help you to come out of a storm relatively unscathed.

Here are the 15 steps you need to take before hurricane season starts.

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Understand the difference between a watch and a warning

Memories Over Mocha/Adobe cyclone photo in mobile phone

Make sure you understand the terminology that tells you whether a hurricane is imminent or merely possible.

A hurricane watch means that a hurricane is possible, given the current weather and atmosphere conditions. However, a hurricane warning means that a storm is likely, and you should expect a hurricane to hit soon.

Accept that you might have to evacuate your home

Michaela/Adobe man waiting for the plane

If there is an evacuation order, it’s time to leave your home. There’s no flexibility here, as ignoring such an order might put your life at risk.

So, be ready to take your emergency supply kit, nonperishable food, pets, medication, and anything else you need and hit the road as soon as possible.

Well in advance of a storm warning, make sure you have a game plan so you understand where you should evacuate to when the order comes down.

Be ready to stay inside for days

puhimec/Adobe taking a peak through window

If the hurricane looks a bit less severe, it might be easier to stay hunkered down at home. However, if you do so, you should be prepared to lose power.

Make sure that you have a battery-powered radio to get news in case you lose internet service and power. Also, remember that staying at home means remaining inside. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way, and make sure you stay away from windows when there are high winds.

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Prepare your house and yard

Lisa F. Young/Adobe measuring for storm shutters

The best way to make sure your home sustains minimal damage is to secure the house and the yard. Move all furniture to higher floors if there is a risk of flooding. Secure any outdoor items that could fly toward your home, potentially damaging windows and siding.

Clear your gutters to make sure they are draining properly. Secure storm shutters or nail plywood over windows to prevent damage.

Make sure you are properly insured

fizkes/Adobe frowning indian at workplace

It’s not unusual for someone to realize they don’t have flood insurance until it’s too late. Consider getting flood insurance to protect yourself in the case of a hurricane.

Also, make sure your homeowner's policy protects you fully against wind damage.

Make plans for loved ones and pets

chendongshan/Adobe british cat cuddling with retriever

When it’s time to evacuate, you are not the only person you have to worry about. Whether you have children, elderly parents, pets, or someone else in your inner circle, you need a plan for them too.

Take steps to ensure everyone’s safety. In addition, create a plan for where you will meet in the aftermath of a disaster.

Gather important documents

thodonal/Adobe businesswoman holding folder

Having all your ducks in a row in terms of important documents can spell the difference between moving quickly after a disaster or fumbling around as you try to piece together information.

So, gather your insurance policy, medical records, list of contacts, and other important documents and keep them in a safe place that is instantly accessible.

Prepare an emergency ‘go bag’

SpeedShutter/Adobe emergency kit

Don’t leave yourself in the position of trying to make an emergency trip to the grocery store or the bank while the city is shutting down.

Instead, have an emergency “go-bag” ready in the days prior to the hurricane’s arrival. This should include a first-aid kit, radio, water, batteries, flashlight, and cash.

Have food and medications ready

HASPhotos/Adobe baked beans ready for parcels

With any luck, you won’t need to grab your “go bag” and evacuate. But if you plan to stay put, make sure you are prepared to remain stuck at home for a while after the storm.

That means you should have at least a week’s worth of nonperishable foods and critical medications at the ready.

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Buy bottled water

pressmaster/Adobe mineral water

Water is critical to life. In the aftermath of a hurricane, it is possible that your water could become undrinkable.

So, purchase bottled water before the storm. Or, fill a number of jugs with water from the tap before the storm arrives.

Fortify your emergency fund

Vitalii Vodolazskyi/Adobe savings in emergency fund jar

Even if insurance ends up covering damage to your home, you might not have access to the money right away.

Make sure you have an adequate emergency fund that you can dip into to pay for repairs or essentials. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Have cash on hand

ptnphotof/Adobe counting us dollar bills

Most people keep their emergency fund in a bank. But in the days immediately following a hurricane, it might be difficult or even impossible to get to a working ATM machine.

In addition, a prolonged power outage could make it difficult to use credit cards. So, make sure to get some cash prior to the storm so you can purchase necessary supplies as needed.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, make sure your bank accounts are set up online in case the bank doesn’t reopen in the days following the hurricane.

Service your vehicle and fill the tank with gas

Pixel-Shot/Adobe woman filling up car tank

The time to get an oil change is not during a hurricane. Make sure you service your car ahead of hurricane season.

Then, as soon as you get the news that a hurricane could be in the forecast, fill up your tank with gas and keep it that way. Gas might be hard to come by prior to and after a storm.

Learn how to use a generator

Denis Rozhnovsky/Adobe inverter gasoline generator

A generator can be a game changer during a power outage, particularly during the height of summer when it’s hot.

Consider getting a generator and learning how to use it safely so that you can charge phones, turn on a lamp in the evening, and even run an air conditioning unit.

Test your fire extinguisher

phonlamaiphoto/Adobe fire extinguisher in house

Long before the hurricane arrives, test your fire extinguisher to make sure it works.

If fire breaks out, you'll need to act fast. So, you want to make sure in advance that the extinguisher is up to the task.

Bottom line

galitskaya/Adobe heavy rain and high winds

Nobody knows what this hurricane season will bring. The best thing you can do to boost your financial fitness — and to keep yourself safe — is to prepare in advance.

Take a few minutes ahead of hurricane season to check out your insurance policy and make sure you're covered. Make sure you have a robust emergency fund. And confirm that important documents are in a spot where you can easily grab them.

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Author Details

Heather Bien Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.

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