Hurricane season began June 1 and runs through November, but it typically gets mean around August or September. That means it's time to make basic preparations that can prove useful in many emergency situations. It's better done at your leisure than in a panic.
"Don't wait until a storm approaches," advises the N.C. Department of Insurance, which created NCHurriClaims.com to help people prepare for storms and natural disasters and to deal with their aftermath from an insurance standpoint.
The site discusses types of property insurance, actions you can take to prepare for storms ahead of time, and what to do if you receive storm damage. It also includes other tips, insurance-related contact information and news and alerts.
Before a storm threatens, the site says, people should make a home inventory in the event of damage. People should note the brand names or descriptions of items, along with their estimated value and date of purchase. There are smartphone apps for making home inventories. There's also a checklist that can be downloaded at the N.C. Department of Insurance's site.
If you have receipts for items, appraisal documents and serial numbers, include them with your inventory. It's also helpful to videotape or photograph belongings.
You should also collect documents that could be important to have on hand if your home is damaged in a storm, including insurance policies, medical records and your pet's veterinary records.
Copies of all of your emergency records should be stored in a safe place outside your home -- a safety deposit box, for example, or a secure website or a password-protected flash drive.
Other emergency-preparedness suggestions are available from insurers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency's site, ready.gov.