We have been very fortunate in Northwest Florida to have no major hurricanes for the past 10 years. Things have changed this year and we are being hit with two hurricanes back to back, Irma and Jose.

By the time you read this article, Irma will have undoubtedly hit and Jose will be upon us. It is always good to be prepared.

Some of these tips should be done as soon as a hurricane is forming across the Atlantic.

•Have an evacuation plan. Know where you will go. Have phone numbers available to hotels in the area you wish to evacuate to and make reservations.

•Make sure your homeowner's insurance is up to date.

•Have full tanks of gas in your cars.

•Have some cash handy.

•Have your cell phone chargers in a bag ready to go. Keep your phones charged.

•Have your essential papers in a waterproof zippered bag: insurance policies, birth certificates, passports, banking information, the deed to your home, etc.

•Have plenty of bottled water. The rule of thumb is 1 gallon of water per person and per pet each day.

•Have plenty of pet food, whether you stay home or evacuate.

•Have canned food for your family and a hand-operated can opener.

•Have a small propane stove and plenty of propane to cook food.

•Have diapers, formula and baby food on hand for your little ones.

•Have working flashlights and plenty of batteries.

•Fill your bathtubs with water for washing and flushing.

•Have your prescriptions filled and in zippered bags for easy transporting.

•Take your jewelry, cameras and other valuables with you.

•If you are told to evacuate, take your kids and pets and leave. It is for your safety.

•Never leave your pets behind. They cannot fend for themselves.

Once the storm has passed, you may wish to volunteer to help those who are displaced by the storm. People will be needed to pass out supplies, prepare and serve food, feed pets and so on.

Many churches will need volunteers to deal with those in need, so be compassionate.

Remember, but for the grace of God we could be in that situation.

Janice Lynn Crose, a former accountant, lives in Crestview with her husband, Jim; her two rescue collies, Shane and Jasmine; and two cats, Kathryn and Prince Valiant.