The National Weather Service issues a hurricane watch when hurricane-force winds (74 mph) are possible in a certain area within 36 hours. This is when you fill up your car's gas tank and start securing your home. Close your storm shutters or board up your windows. Make sure there's nothing in your yard or on your deck -- like bikes, furniture, grills and propane tanks -- that could get flung around by the wind.
Begin implementing your family plan. You might not end up having to evacuate, but it's best to be prepared. Make sure you know where everyone is and that they know where to meet up. If your safe place is a hotel or motel, call and make reservations now.
Listen to the radio for updates and keep an ear out for sirens and warning signals. If a hurricane warning is issued, hurricane-force winds are expected within 12 hours. You should be finishing up your preparations by then. Crank up refrigerators and freezers to their coldest settings so food will last longer in the event of a power outage.