Now is the time to prepare for hurricane season
Being aware is not being prepared. Storm surge, high winds, tornadoes and flooding are all hazards related to hurricanes. With the start of hurricane season less than 30 days away, now is the time to prepare.
May 5-11 marks National Hurricane Preparedness Week, and the Galveston County Health District (GCHD) is urging residents to prepare now.
This season includes an expected 13 named storms with five hurricanes and two major hurricanes, according to the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project. The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 with peak season August-September.
“The first step you need to take is to determine if you’re at risk,” said Randy Valcin, director of epidemiology and public health emergency preparedness. “Look at what you need to do to protect your home and family before the first storm even forms. You don’t want to be preparing for a storm when it’s on its way.”
Do you live in a hurricane evacuation zone? Do you live in a home that would be unsafe during a hurricane? Find out now.
“If so, plan where you’ll go and how you will get there,” Valcin said. “You need to prepare to leave immediately if ordered to evacuate. Identify a city, friend, relative who doesn’t live in an evacuation zone and see if you can go and stay there in the case of a hurricane.”
Get an insurance check up
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.
Assemble a disaster kit
From food and water to medicine, cash, batteries, radios and chargers, gather supplies before hurricane season begins.
“Have supplies on hand not just for the storm, but also for the recovery period,” Valcin said. “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.”
Also, fill prescriptions and have medicine on hand. Other items to have include a flashlight, a portable battery-operated radio, 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.
There’s a lot you can do around your home to help protect it from strong winds that come with hurricanes. 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 well ahead of an upcoming storm.
If you plan to ride out a hurricane in your home, make sure it is in good repair and up to local hurricane building code specifications. Have the proper plywood, steel or aluminum panels to board up the windows and doors.
“The garage door is the most vulnerable part of the home so make sure it can withstand high winds,” Valcin. “Elevation also matters. Find out the elevation of your home ahead of hurricane season. 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
Put your plan in writing. It will help you prepare for if and when a hurricane is headed your way and give you a game plan to reference if under pressure.
“If evacuating, know where you plan to go. 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.
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.
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.