We’ve all been sitting on the edge of our seats, waiting for Hurricane Laura to make landfall. While it seems that Houston property in the city itself will be spared, our hearts go out to our neighbors in Louisiana who got the full brunt. We’re also still monitoring events on our own coast. Although no one living in Houston is under mandatory evacuation orders, there are voluntary evacuations in several areas near the coast. We recommend checking out the city’s Emergency Operations Center website and following @AlertHouston on Twitter to keep up with the latest news. Also remember that you don’t have to be registered on Twitter to see tweets.
Hurricane season has opened with a bang this year, and is considered to run until November 30th. Scientists are predicting that this year is going to be intense. This seems like a good time to review basic hurricane preparation measures. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, some plans may need to be modified, and we will discuss that, too.
The foundation of emergency preparedness is having enough clean water and shelf-stable food to last five to seven days. Plan to have one gallon of water per person per day. This should cover drinking, cooking, and sanitation. For food, think in terms of items that don’t need to be cooked. Canned food, dry fruit, nuts, jerky, and energy bars are all good options. Remember a manual can opener! Don’t forget pets. They should also have a gallon of water per day, as well as food. If you want to be able to cook, look into getting a camping stove. This will be more reliable than using your regular stove in an emergency. You don’t have to buy everything all at once. Make a list of what you want to have in your kit and stock up as you are able.
If you can, include a few treats to help keep people’s spirits up. Be sure to include books, board games, and card games. Kids will enjoy drawing supplies, too. Think of activities that don’t involve screens. With COVID-19 still a risk, be sure that you have masks for everyone in the household, as well as hand sanitizer and soap.
Many Houston property owners have special circumstances that require more planning. If anyone in the household takes medication, you should have extra on hand. Families with babies or toddlers should be sure to have enough diapers. Maybe you or someone else has mobility needs or uses oxygen or has other important needs. Discuss the best way to meet those needs in an emergency situation.
In addition to food and water, people living in Houston should consider purchasing a battery operated or hand crank radio to keep abreast of updates if the power goes out. Having a portable charger to keep cell phones charged is a good idea, too. You can even find solar-powered models. Have flashlights and extra batteries. Be sure to keep paper plates, bowls, and napkins on hand, as well as plastic flatware. Moist towelettes are great for keeping clean. Have a first aid kit and a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities. Have rain gear for everyone, a whistle to signal that you need help, and plastic sheeting and duct tape for sheltering in place.
Be sure to gather up important documents ahead of time. These include social security cards, passports, birth certificates, vaccination records, wedding licenses, deeds and titles, wills, insurance documents, tax documents, and bank documents. Keep these together and in a fire and waterproof container. As a backup, you can ask a trustworthy family member or friend who lives in another area to keep copies for you. You can also have digital copies on a flash drive or secure online location.
You also need a communication and evacuation plan. These will be very individual, based on your own circumstances. Often in an emergency, cell lines are jammed. It can be easier to contact a friend or family member who lives out of state. They can relay messages between family members if they are separated and deliver news to everyone. Tuck a list of important phone numbers in your emergency kit. These should include family members, friends, doctors, and financial institutions.
You should know whether your Houston property is in a flood plain and make evacuation plans accordingly. Have a list of everything you need to take with you, including food, clothing, family heirlooms, photos, and medications. Agree ahead of time on a place that you plan to meet up if you have to evacuate separately. If you or a family member is especially at risk for COVID-19, consider evacuating early in an emergency like a hurricane. You may feel safer with friends or family who live outside the disaster zone or going to a hotel, rather than relying on a shelter.
Thinking about a disaster can provoke anxiety, and lots of people tend to avoid it for that reason. However, it is vital to have a plan in place well before you need it. A plan allows you to concentrate on getting to safety, rather than running around, feeling unsure of what to take and what to leave behind. We hope that this list will help you to create a plan, if you do not already have one in place.
If you are able, consider donating the Hurricane Laura relief fund set up by the Red Cross.
We are committed to going above and beyond and guiding you every step of the way, and will not settle for less than complete satisfaction.