Now is the time to prepare for hurricane season

Health district takes part in National Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 6-12

Post Date:05/04/2018 10:12 AM

Storm surge, high winds, tornadoes and flooding are all hazards related to hurricanes. With the start of hurricane season just around the corner, Galveston County Health District (GCHD) is urging residents to prepare now.

Being aware is not being prepared. GCHD is taking advantage of National Hurricane Preparedness Week, observed May 6-12, to help residents learn more about prepping before the storm.

“Developing an evacuation plan, checking on insurance coverage, planning for your pets, all of this should be done before the start of hurricane season,” said Randy Valcin, director of epidemiology and public health emergency preparedness.

There are 14 named storms in the 2018 season with seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes expected, according to the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project. The university predicts a 63 percent probability of at least one major hurricane making landfall on the continental United States. The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 with peak season August-September.

“Now is the time to get a plan together. You don’t want to be preparing for a storm when it’s on its way,” Valcin said. “Find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone. If so, plan an evacuation route – where to go and how to get there. You need to leave immediately when ordered to evacuate.”

Put together a disaster kit

From food and water to medicine, cash, batteries, radios and chargers, gather supplies before hurricane season begins. Be sure to have enough food and water for each person for at least one week. Plan on one gallon of water per day per person. Fill prescriptions and have medicine on hand. Other items to have include a flashlight with extra batteries, a portable battery-operated radio with extra batteries, first aid kit and manual, sturdy shoes, gloves and a whistle.

For more information on putting together a disaster kit, visit http://www.gchd.org/public-health-services/public-health-preparedness/natural-disasters.

Get an insurance checkup

Check in with your insurance agent before hurricane season. Remember, flood insurance must be purchased separately. Information about the National Flood Insurance Program can be found through insurance agents or the local emergency management office. There is normally a 30-day waiting period before a new policy becomes effective. Homeowner policies do not cover damage from the flooding that accompanies a hurricane.

Strengthen homes

There are several ways to protect homes from the strong winds that come with hurricanes. Well ahead of the approaching storm, trim trees on property, shop for approved window coverings, collect loose outdoor items, secure all doors on property and find a safe location for vehicles.

Teach each family member how and when to turn off gas, electricity and water. When covering windows, remember permanent shutters are the best protection. A lower-cost approach is to put up plywood panels.

“Elevation matters. Find out the elevation of your home ahead of hurricane season,” Valcin advised. “Are you in a surge or flood zone? Residents living in mobile homes need to check tie-downs for rust or breakage. If you live in a mobile home, you must evacuate when told to do so for you and your family’s safety.”

Put it in writing

Planning is the best defense when it comes to preparing for hurricane season.

Develop a family emergency communication plan. It is possible family members may become separated from one another during a disaster, especially during the day when adults are at work and children are at school. Make a plan for touching base and getting back together.

It’s also smart to ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact.” After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address and phone number of the contact person.

“Having a plan in place when an emergency strikes helps you avoid mistakes when you’re facing that emergency. And, it lets you know everyone in the home is on the same page and prepared,” Valcin said.

When it comes to medicine, put prescriptions, emergency contact information for family and doctors, insurance cards and identification together in a plastic bag. Do the same with photocopies of important documents including birth and marriage certificates, immunization records for children and adults, driver license and other photo IDs and Social Security cards. Have photo documentation of valuables.

Remember your four-legged family

In the hustle of dealing with a natural disaster, pets sometimes fall to the end of the list, or left off until the last minute. Plan for your pets now.

Have copies of vaccination records, a current photo of your pet, an ample supply of food and water, a carrier or cage, medication, muzzle, collar and leash.

For more information when planning for hurricane season and natural disasters, visit http://www.gchd.org/public-health-services/public-health-preparedness/natural-disasters and www.ready.gov.

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