With wind speeds that reach more than 100 mph pushing tons of water through the air, hurricanes can bring untold danger and damage when they make landfall.
And while such natural disasters can't be avoided or stopped, proper preparation and planning can help ensure your safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers tips on how to be ready for dangerous hurricanes.
When the National Weather Service issues a hurricane watch or warning for your area, you should take the following steps:
Become informed: Learn about your community's emergency plans. Make sure you know the proper evacuation routes and locations of official emergency shelters.
Inspect your home and property for potential hazards: Secure or put away any loose material or objects that can be blown about by powerful winds. Know where and how to shut off your home's gas and power supplies in case you have to evacuate.
Cover exposed glass: Placing plywood boards and masking tape over windows and glass doors will reduce the risk of damage and injury to you and loved ones from flying glass fragments.
Secure important documents: Find and pack away vital papers — insurance policies, wills, licenses, stocks and property deeds. Be prepared to take them with you if you evacuate.
Consider special needs: Take into consideration if you, a member of your family or an immediate neighbor is elderly or needs special attention — regular access to a dialysis machine or other medical conditions, for example. Alert local authorities about these considerations so they can plan accordingly.
Make arrangements for pets and animals: If you are ordered to evacuate your home, official emergency shelters cannot take in animals for health and safety reasons. If there is time, relocate pets and animals to shelters outside of the danger zone. Otherwise, have extra food and water on hand for your animals and prepare to leave them in a safe place in your home during the evacuation.
Update emergency contacts: Prepare a list of emergency phone numbers and contacts. Place them at every phone and make sure other family members know who to call in case of an emergency.
Fill your car's gas tank: Be prepared to leave your home if local authorities issue an evacuation notice for your area. If you do not have a vehicle, make arrangements ahead of time with neighbors, friends or family for transportation out of the danger zone.
Chill your food: Setting your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting may provide an added bit of protection for food should the power go out during the storm.
Listen: Keep a radio or TV tuned to local news and weather updates. Be aware of disaster sirens or other publicly broadcasted warning signals and stay informed of what's happening.
Prepare an emergency kit for your home and car: Stockpile enough supplies to last three to five days without outside assistance. Also prepare a smaller kit for your car or truck in case you are ordered to evacuate. See below for tips on what to place in your kits.
Since hurricanes can interrupt normal services and shut down stores in an area for days or even weeks, all homes should be stocked with the following: