It was Spanish playwright Miguel de Cervantes who coined the phrase, “To be prepared is half the victory.”

When natural disasters like hurricanes strike, people often feel powerless. But if you’re armed with knowledge ahead of time, you can be fully prepared before, during and after the storm.

Before:

  • Plan your family’s evacuation route and make an emergency plan.
  • Create an emergency kit of bottled water, non-perishable food, flashlights, batteries and first aid supplies.
  • Secure your property by tying down any freestanding outdoor items. Reinforce your garage doors.
  • Keep trees and shrubs trimmed to reduce their wind resistance.
  • Use your phone to make a digital inventory of your belongings, and put valuable documents and photos in a waterproof pouch.

During:

  • Pay close attention to hurricane alerts. Know the difference between a hurricane watch (hurricane conditions are possible in your area) and a hurricane warning (a hurricane is expected within 24 hours).
  • If a storm is approaching, evacuate if at all possible. Use the evacuation plan you’ve already prepared, and leave early during daylight hours.
  • Stay calm.

After:

  • Return home only after your local Emergency Management officials say it’s okay.
  • Keep in mind that flash flooding can occur and that roads and bridges may be damaged.
  • Call 511 to verify road conditions after a hurricane in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.
  • Be aware of hazards relative to power lines, polluted water, and the challenge of putting out a fire because of low water pressure.
  • Expect damage assessment teams to do an extensive review of all areas and insurance representatives to be on the scene immediately following a hurricane to expedite the handling of claims. If you have insurance through AAA, notify your agent of any losses and leave word of where you can be reached. Keep in mind that hardship cases are settled first, so please be patient.

Safe Driving Tips

Before Driving:

  • Do not drive in rainy weather and high winds if you don’t have to.
  • Check your tires (including your spare) to make sure they have plenty of tread and are properly inflated.
  • Before the storm hits, fill up your gas tank.
  • Make sure your windshield wipers are in good shape. The blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace any blade that leaves streaks or misses spots.
  • Pack an emergency kit in your vehicle, which should include a flashlight with extra batteries, first aid kit, drinking water, mobile phone and car charger, extra snacks/food for your travelers and any pets, battery booster cables, and emergency flares or reflectors.

On the Road:

  • To boost visibility, drive with your headlights on—but not your flashing hazard lights, which can confuse other drivers about your intentions and in many states are illegal to have on in a moving vehicle.
  • Reduce your speed to account for the lower traction on wet roads and the destabilizing effects of high winds.
  • To avoid a collision, keep a sufficient amount of open space around your vehicle. Drivers should extend their following distance to at least 5 or 6 seconds, and adjust speed to keep open space on at least one side of your vehicle at all times.
  • If your vehicle starts to hydroplane, gently ease off the accelerator and continue to look and steer where you want to go. This will help the vehicle regain traction.
  • Avoid driving through flooded areas, even if you are familiar with the roads. You have no idea how deep the water is if you can’t see the road, and the flooded area could be concealing dangers such as debris, tree branches or power lines that are submerged and not visible from above. The safest thing to do is turn around and find an alternate route.

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