As any Florida resident knows, our state is very prone to major weather events such as hurricanes and storms. It is important to be as prepared as possible. Being unprepared can make these situations much more stressful. Here are some tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

• Communicate where you will be. Contact someone such as a friend or family member outside the affected area to tell them where you will be for the duration of the event. Business owners should remind employees of their roles in helping to get the business back up and running, and how they will be notified when the facility is open again.

• Know the warning signs and alert signals for your area. Stay tuned in to your local television or radio station or online news outlet for emergency information.

• Check your emergency survival kit. Make sure your emergency survival kit is stocked with essential items and kept in an easily accessible location.

• Collect emergency building materials. Depending on the type of disaster, you may want to have emergency materials on hand, such as plywood, sandbags and waterproof tarps.

• Fuel up your vehicles and equipment. If you have an emergency generator, make sure you have fresh fuel on hand. Depending on your situation, you may need a supply of extra fuel. If so, be sure to store the spare fuel in an approved container in a safe location. Never use a generator inside or even in a garage. Make sure it is located a safe distance from windows, doors and vents.

• Be sure you have car chargers for your cell phone, smart phone, and other portable devices. Having car chargers available can assist you in staying in communication with others if your electricity goes out. Do not forget to fully charge devices before a storm.

• Secure all outdoor objects or move them inside. Grills, patio furniture and flowerpots are common household items that can become airborne in high winds. Do not use grills inside or store propane tanks inside the house or garage. Business owners should also remember to secure outdoor signage, benches and equipment to help minimize potential damage.

• Know how to shut off all utilities. Always know how to turn off the gas, electricity, and water in your home or place of business. If you need to evacuate suddenly, it may be prudent to turn off utilities before leaving. Before doing so, consider equipment that can help minimize damage and should therefore not have utilities interrupted, such as electricity to sump pumps or fire protection equipment.

• Inspect every area of your property. Assess its vulnerability to water. Water is almost always a factor in disasters, whether from fire suppression, roof damage, plumbing failures, chemical spills or earth tremors, even when the damage originates on a remotely higher floor.

• Protect your furnishings & equipment. Remove furniture and electronic / mechanical equipment from being directly on the floor.

• Secure paper records & original documents. Desks and table tops are vulnerable to water from sprinklers or runoff from higher floors, as well as to smoke and heat damage. Make sure important papers and files are put away in a filing cabinet or drawer.

• Take photos of your property & belongings. Take several photos in each room of your property. This gives you a digital inventory of the major contents in your house, apartment, or business and what they looked like prior to water or fire damage.

• Backup all your important digital files Backup important information on your computers and keep the information where it’s easily accessible in an evacuation as well as at an offsite location. This is particularly important for people who work from home.