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Last year's hurricanes provided a valuable lesson in preparedness. Disasters can strike at any time and it's important to ready your family and your primary mode of transportation for the worst. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts 12 to 16 tropical storms-of which six to eight could become hurricanes, including one to three major hurricanes of category 3 strength or greater-so it's a good idea to keep an eye on the weather. Several industry experts have estimated that the number of flood-damaged vehicles from last year's hurricanes could reach 600,000. To date, the National Insurance Crime Bureau has collected over 300,000 vehicle identification numbers of flooded vehicles from the Gulf Coast. To help consumers avoid having their car becoming a waterlogged wreck, the experts at Carfax, the nation's leading provider of vehicle history information, offer these suggestions to prepare for hurricanes and floods that will go a long way in helping to protect your family and property: 

• If at all possible, get your vehicle out of the area. Evaluate how much time you have before the storm is predicted to strike to make sure you can safely drive you and your family out of its path. 

• Cover your vehicle or move it to high ground. Park your car in an enclosed, uncluttered garage or move it to an area that is less susceptible to flooding. 

• Contact your insurance company. Make sure your policy is up to date and includes the coverage necessary to offset repair costs from flooding, should your vehicle sustain any damage. Carfax uses its computerized database of 4.5 billion vehicle records to provide a detailed history report on virtually every registered used car and light truck since 1981, and can alert consumers to problems that can severely affect the safety, performance and value of a used vehicle.

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