Hurricane Matthew
This National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration handout image shows Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean Sea heading toward Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba, Oct. 3, 2016. Photo: Getty

With Hurricane Matthew already causing major damage to the Caribbean and tropical storm Nicole threatening to hit Bermuda, it is important to stay safe during harsh weather conditions.

A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that forms over tropical or subtropical waters. A storm is officially considered a hurricane when it reaches above 74 miles per hour. The higher the category of the storm, the greater the chance of property damage.

For anyone staying at home during a hurricane, below are five important safety tips that are key to surviving an intense storm.

1. Be prepared to be without power for an extended period of time

In the case that a hurricane is not violent, electricity can be restored quickly, however, if you are hit by a brutal storm you can go days or weeks without power. Without television or phones, you will not be able to receive weather updates. Keep a portable radio with you with additional batteries. There is the option to invest in a generator but caution should be taken when running the machine and it should be kept a safe distance away from your residence.

2. Stock up on food and water

In the case that you are not evacuated from your home, it is important to gather plenty of water and nonperishable food prior to the storm. You should have a gallon of water for every member of your household along with canned food items and a manual can opener in case you lose power.

3. Protect your property against the hurricane

If you do not have permanent storm shutters, you can board up your windows with plywood. Be sure to attend to the landscaping around your home and make sure shrubs and trees are well trimmed so they will not cause damage to your home during the hurricane. Make sure basement items are elevated off of the floor to avoid damage from possible flooding.

4. Have an evacuation plan and follow it when told

During some point of a hurricane, you may be forced to leave your home, have a game plan together on how you plan to evacuate and stick to it. Make sure that you have a bag ready to go in case of evacuation, this piece of luggage should consist of important items like prescriptions, significant documents, food, water, first aid kit, cash and irreplaceable items such as pictures and family heirlooms. Be sure to have a full tank of gas in case you evacuate via a motor vehicle.

5. Don’t be fooled by the lull of the storm.

If you are riding out a hurricane in your home, stay away from windows. Although the winds may have settled and all seems right with the world, the lull of the hurricane typically signifies the eye of the storm. Do not leave your home until authorities announce that it is safe to do so.