It is easy to get complacent, but we must remain vigilant as we are in hurricane season. Last year, Northwest Florida experienced a devastating hurricane, Hurricane Michael. It hit to the east of us and affected many of our neighboring communities, people lost their homes, cars, and livelihoods.

We need to be as prepared as possible.

If you live in a neighborhood where there are elderly people, please make sure to include them in your storm preparations. They may be unable to do much to get ready or evacuate. Their families may be far away and unable to help.

After the storm has passed, there may be a need for you to help others. Please be generous with your time and resources. Many communities will have shelters and local churches will also need volunteers.

For more information, please refer to: www.ready.gov/hurricanes.

Here is a partial list of preparations that can be done ahead of time.

• Make sure you are tracking current storms.

• Have storm shutters or cut plywood to protect your windows.

• Make sure your homeowner's insurance is current.

• Have an evacuation plan mapped out. Make sure all family members are aware of the plan.

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

• Keep your automobile gas tanks full.

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

• Water, make sure to have at least one gallon per day per pet and two gallons per day per person for a 7- to 14-day period.

• If you buy a portable generator, have a licensed electrician install it.

• Have plenty of canned food on hand as well as a portable can opener.

• Have pet food for your pets.

• Get a battery-powered radio, flashlights, battery-operated fans and plenty of new batteries.

• Have your prescriptions filled ahead of time in case evacuation becomes necessary.

• Have needed phone numbers available, with paper copies in case your phone is dead.

• Have all chargers for phones, tablets, etc. in a waterproof bag. Keep these items charged.

• Have basic tools readily available: wrench, screwdriver, tarps, duct tape, etc.

• Prune trees so limbs don't get blown loose and break windows.

• Bring in all outdoor furniture once a storm has been confirmed.

• Take your pets with you when you leave. They cannot fend for themselves!

• Have cash on hand for needed supplies. ATMs and credit card readers require electricity, which may be down after a storm.

• Fill your bathtubs with water for flushing toilets, wiping down counters and so on.

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.