Days before there are any hurricane watches or warnings, there are several things you should do.
Fill your cars up with gas. If you wait until a day or two before a storm is going to hit, there are long lines at the gas stations, and prices begin to increase. Keep in mind that you need a full tank, because if the power is out in your area, which is almost a certainty with any hurricanes, it could be days before you find an open gas station, and those that are open, will once again have very long lines.
Purchase extra gas if you own a generator. While I am on the subject of generators, make sure and start it up. If you have not used your generator in a few years, they could require the spark plugs to be cleaned out.
Make sure you have enough canned food to last for at least one week for each member of your family. Don't forget to have a standard, non-electric can opener. Left over canned good can always be donated to area grocery stores in November when they are collecting to provide Thanksgiving meals to the less fortunate. If you have small children make sure you have everything you need such as powdered milk, baby food and diapers. You may not have refrigeration for days, so plan ahead.
How will you prepare the foods? Do you have a gas oven? If not, do you have a barbecue grill? If so, make sure you have a full tank of propane. If you do not have either, then consider purchasing tuna fish, canned fruit and other items that do not require heating.
Make sure you have one gallon of water per person, per day. A few years ago we had a category two hurricane, and the power was out for as long as 13 days in some areas. At a minimum, try to have at last one weeks worth of water.
Refill any prescription medications so that you have at least two weeks worth. It could be difficult to find an open pharmacy after a storm.
Check your flashlights and battery supply. Keep them in a place where everyone in the family knows their location.
Have a well-stocked first aid kit.
Have an old fashioned plug-in phone. After the first hurricane we experienced 6 years ago, we had phone lines available, but without power, the cordless phones do not work. Why didn't I think of that sooner?
Make sure you have a cell phone charger that works in your car. It is another way to be able to make phone calls should the power go out.
Have some cash on-hand to last for at least a week. ATM machines don't work when the power is out.
Make copies of important documents and put them in a zip-lock bag. Your home owners insurance policy is important. Also protect any valuable photos in zip-lock bags.
If you feel your home is not able to sustain hurricane force winds, make sure you know where the nearest shelter is. Many shelters do not accept pets, so plan ahead where you will leave them. Many places offer boarding for pets, but they fill up quickly, so don't wait until the last minute.
Do you own hurricane shutters? If so, make sure you have the necessary drills and tools to put them up? There are companies for hire that will put the shutters up for you. Research this option ahead of time so that you have the phone numbers and cost in mind. In our neighborhood the men help one another and get several homes done in one afternoon. The same applies if you need to board up your windows. Try to purchase the wood once a hurricane track predicts the possibility of a storm hitting your area, which is usually about 5 days prior to the storm arriving.
Discuss plans as a family. How large of a storm would it take for you to consider leaving your home? The largest hurricane we sat through was a category 3, and it is not fun. It is hours of anxiety and stress, not to mention dangerous. We have all seen with hurricane Andrew and Katrina the damage that can be done by a category 5. Evacuation routes, particularly in a state like Florida fill up quickly,and storms are unpredictable. You can't wait until the last minute to decide to leave. If you are in a flood zone, evacuate as soon as the orders are given. Don't make the mistake of trying to ride a storm out.