We’re still in the early weeks of the Texas Gulf Coast Region’s hurricane season, but Tropical Storm Debby is stern reminder that powerful storms can spawn close to shore and come inland anywhere along the coast in a matter of a few days. The beginning of hurricane season is an excellent time to evaluate your home’s location, plan an exit strategy, make certain supplies are on hand and secure important documents in an easy-to-find location.
Prior to Hurricane Season:
- Make a plan. Contact family members and friends who live far outside the danger zone to see who could take you in should a storm develop. Keep a list of all these safe houses, with contact information readily available.
- Create a “Go Kit.” Using a backpack, rucksack or small duffel bag, create a kit that can be easily grabbed in the event of an evacuation. Contents should include: three days’ worth of non-perishable food, enough water to last (one gallon of water per person, per day is the government recommended amount), a flashlight with batteries, and a basic first aid kit.
- Along with your “Go Kit,” create a file with copies of all your personal information. Make sure you have copies of birth certificates, house and car titles, medication prescriptions, and any other important paperwork you may need in case you must start over after evacuation. Passports should be kept close at hand as well.
- Ensure that you know how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity in your house, since you may have to shut these off before evacuation.
- Purchase and set up a generator. Many wait until hurricane season to purchase a generator, but often hardware stores sell out of generators when a storm is on its way. To make sure you get one, purchase your generator well before hand.
During Hurricane Season
- Double check that the food and water in your kit is fresh. Replace any items that have gone past their expiration dates.
- Perform any necessary maintenance on the car.
- Make sure your generator works and you have extra gasoline available.
- Check all batteries in flashlights to make sure they are working. Stockpile extra sets of batteries.
When a Hurricane is Headed Your Way
- Cook all raw meat in your freezer or fridge and then freeze it. By doing this you will help other foods in your freezer stay cooler longer should there be a power outage. Plus, it is much easier to simply defrost something in a black out than it is to cook it, so you will have ready-to-eat meals available.
- Place all valuable items up off the floor in case water enters your house. This should keep them safe unless strong flooding occurs.
- Listen carefully to news and weather reports for information that may affect whether or not you and your family evacuate.
- Trim any dead branches and trees near your house or driveway.
- Have enough medications on hand should delivery and distribution systems be curtailed before and after a storm.
- Remember, these are just a few quick tips. Always make sure to follow the advice of local authorities as they will have special information pertinent to your particular situation.
If you are the caregiver for a senior or other loved one, it may be best to make plans for an early evacuation to an outlying location. It’s great to be prepared for an oncoming storm and most of us will not have to worry about a direct impact. However, keep in mind that utility services and supply deliveries can be impeded for several days or weeks — to a very broad area surrounding a storm center. The early days following a storm can be very hot, humid and uncomfortable for seniors and others with health conditions. Therefore, the best preparation plan may involve leaving the area well in advance of an approaching storm