Picture this: A nighttime thunderstorm rages outside. You’re watching a movie on the couch, when suddenly – pop! – the power cuts out. It’s now pitch-black inside. Do you know where your flashlight and candles are? Most people have experienced a temporary loss of electricity in the home, but what if it’s more than a few hours? Are you prepared for a real weather-related emergency like a flood, extended loss of power, or natural disaster? Keep these tips handy to make sure you’re ready for anything.

Don’t Get Stuck in the Dark

Take some time to organize your home so that emergency flashlights, candles, and matches are easily accessible. Scrambling in the dark to find a light source is dangerous and cumbersome, so make sure that there is at least one drawer or cabinet on each floor of your home where an emergency light is always kept. A dead flashlight and an unlit candle are no use when you’re in the dark, so also consider stocking up on extra batteries and matches.

Keep Extra Food and Water Stored

In a weather-related emergency like a flood or snowstorm, pipes can freeze or water can become contaminated and unsafe to drink. The Red Cross recommends keeping a two week supply of food and water in the home for emergencies. That means one gallon of water per person per day. Carve out some extra room in your pantry or basement for supplies. Food should be nonperishable and not require cooking to consume. Canned food and dried goods are a good, safe choice to ensure you’re prepared to stay inside your home during an emergency.

Familiarize Yourself With Your Home

Well-insulated windows and doors are helpful in keeping out cold wind and wet weather, but those aren’t the only home-related preparedness measures you should be taking to remain safe. Make sure you or a family member are familiar with your home’s electrical and gas emergency shut-off valves, in case it becomes necessary during a period of bad weather. It is important to know where your breaker switches are to reset during a power outage. If not, consider calling a professional to walk you through how to shut off your water, electricity, or gas during an emergency.

Consider Investing in a Generator

If you live in an area where you’re more likely to experience a weather-related emergency, consider investing in a generator to ensure you’re not without electricity for an extended period of time. It can often take utility companies days or even weeks to restore power after a major weather event. In extremely hot or cold weather, days or weeks without electricity can turn a situation from inconvenient to life-threateningly dangerous. Generators should always be used outdoors and only when safe to operate them.

Weather-related emergencies can happen anywhere and at any time, so it’s important to make sure you’re prepared. Take some time to organize supplies and to make a plan with family members for what to do if bad weather strikes.