Storms and Hurricane Safety
Hurricanes and Storms, Are You Ready?
Hurricane season is HERE! It is never too late to prepare.
Do you know someone who will need help in the event of an evacuation?
If you know anyone who will need help evacuating in the event of a major storm or other event, have them register with the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR) by calling 211 or visiting texasstear.org. More information on evacuation assistance is available from the City of Houston Office of Emergency Management Website at houstonoem.org
Houston Area Floodplains- Do you know yours?
There are five major floodplain scenarios that occur in the Houston area. A floodplain is an area at risk for flooding from a bayou, creek or other waterway overflowing during certain flooding events. Which affects you? For a complete description of floodplains and a map of the Houston area floodplains please visit: HarrisCountyFEMT.org
Know Your Risks
Hurricanes bring storm surge, heavy rainfall, strong winds, and can cause power outages. Know your risk, and whether or not you live in a mandatory evacuation area. Most Houston residents do not need to evacuate for a storm. Visit houstonstormrisk.org to find out what your risk is from each of these impacts
Know Your Evacuation Zones
During a major weather event like a hurricane, you may be asked to evacuate your area using a zip code zone system. This system was set up to alleviate the massive traffic issues we experienced during Hurricane Rita by allowing a gradual and organized evacuation from the coastal areas inland. Information on evacuation zones can be found at houstonhidefromthewind.org
Floodwater s- Avoid Prolonged Exposure to Floodwater
This is the time of year when we start to experience our heaviest rains and flash flooding. Remember to watch your children around the water. NEVER let them play in flood water. It may contain chemicals, waste, snakes, ants and other dangers such as swift moving currents and hidden open manholes. This water may also be electrically charged from downed power lines.
Important Phone Numbers
A complete list of important phone numbers you may need in an emergency can be found at: houstonoem.org. Remember, only call 911 if life or property is immediately threatened.
Prepare Your Family and Home
- Discuss what your family should do when a hurricane comes ashore or other severe weather is in your area and where you might evacuate to (shelter, hotel etc.).
- Don't forget about your pets. Many shelters will not take pets, so plan in advance what to do with them.
- Know and review your evacuation routes and never drive through high water.
- Develop a family communication plan. Identify a relative or friend in another state or city to serve as a contact in case family members are separated.
- Prepare a disaster kit and place it in a portable container in case of evacuation.
- Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.
- Tape does not prevent windows from breaking. Install permanent storm shutters or use 5/8" marine plywood, cut to fit, over your windows.
- Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
- If possible, place patio furniture, plants, yard decorations and all other outdoor objects indoors, out of the wind.
- Make sure your car has a full tank of gas in case you have to evacuate with little notice.
- Moor your boat if time permits
High Rise Residents and Apartments - Winds are stronger at higher levels
- Secure or remove loose items from rooftops
- Prepare lower floors for flooding - remove or secure electronics
- Relocate computers and electronics away from windows
- Close all doors
PREPARE FOR HIGH WINDS
- Hide from the Wind
- Place any outdoor furniture, plants, yard and garden decorations and any other type of non-secured outdoor articles out of the high wind. The articles can become projectiles in a high wind and cause serious damage and injuries.
- Remove and secure all items from patio and balcony areas, especially for apartment residence ( www.SafeInMyPlace.com renters and managers can find safety information, specific to Houstonians who rent.)
- If possible board up your windows with plywood. Tape will not keep your windows from breaking.
Disaster Supplies Kit - Shelter-in-Place in an Emergency
There are six basics you should stock for your home: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items. Keep the items that you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to-carry container. Possible containers include a large, covered trash container, a camping backpack, or a duffle bag. For a complete list of supplies please visit: https://www.redcross.org/services
Important Family Documents
Keep these records in a waterproof, portable container:
- Will, insurance policies, contracts deeds, stocks and bonds
- Passports, social security cards, immunization records
- Bank account numbers
- Credit card account numbers and companies
- Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers
- Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version of the supplies kit in the trunk of your car.
Keep items in airtight plastic bags. Change your stored water supply every six months so it stays fresh. Replace your stored food every six months. Re-think your kit and family needs at least once a year. Replace batteries, update clothes, etc.
Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications.
During the Storm
- Listen to the radio or TV for information
- Turn off utilities if you are instructed to do so
- Set your refrigerator thermostat to the coldest setting and keep the doors closed as much as possible
- Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtubs and other large containers with water.
- You are directed to by local authorities
- If you have a medical device that keeps you alive that requires electricity (such as a ventilator)
- If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure
- If you live in a high-rise building. Hurricane winds are stronger at high elevations
- If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river or an inland waterway
- If you feel you are in danger
Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors. Don't be fooled by a lull in the storm. It could pick up again.
Close all interior doors and secure and brace external doors
Keep curtains and blinds closed
Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level
Lie on the floor under a table or other sturdy object
After the Storm
Before you enter your home, walk carefully outside and check for loose power lines, gas leaks, downed electrical wires and structural damage. If you have doubts about the safety of your home, have your home inspected by a qualified building inspector.
DO NOT enter your home if:
- You smell gas
- Floodwaters remain around the home
- Your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
- Use caution when opening cabinets. Some objects may fall.
- Throw out all food that you think may be contaminated.
- Check with local authorities before using any water.
- Clean salvageable items and use disinfectant when cleaning these items
Insurance- Keep good records
- Call your agent. Take pictures of damages.
- Separate damaged from undamaged property
- Maintain a room-by-room inventory of missing or damaged items
- Keep accurate records on discarded items
- If possible, protect your property from any further damage
MORE INFORMATION AVAILABLE ONLINE
The City of Houston Disaster Preparedness Guide has tips and tools to help you prepare for any type of disaster. Download your copy in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, French and Italian today at houstonoem.org, or call 311 to request a printed copy.