HOUSTON -- Hurricane Season just started, and we’ve already had our first scare. Luckily, Cindy left Houston alone, but the NOAA is predicting a busier than average hurricane season, expecting as many as four major hurricanes in 2017.
It’s been nearly a decade since Houston felt the wrath of Hurricane Ike, and being prepared could mean life or death for many Bayou City residents. It is crucial that families prepare a disaster response plan.
A representative from the American Red Cross said to make sure you always pack the following essentials:
- Water -- at least a gallon of water per person per day
- First aid kit
- Flash light with working batteries
- Non-perishable foods
- Hygiene products including soap and shampoo
- Can opener
- Hand-held radio (or crank radio)
- Portable cellphone chargers
"As part of your emergency kit, you want to make sure that you have blankets with you, especially when you're evacuating. You never know how long you might be out or away from your home," the representative said. "Also make sure you have a couple days worth of clothing with you."
Once you have your kit ready, make sure you know your evacuation routes in advance because phones may not work properly.
Visit ReadyHarris.org or download the Ready Harris app to stay up-to-date with evacuation routes and available shelters.
There are more valuable tips to keep us all safe. Make sure to always visit the ATM ahead of time, in order to have cash handy because if parts of the city lose power, the machines will not work. Also, gather important documents like birth certificates, social security cards, passports and life insurance documents. Seal those documents in a zip lock bag to keep them dry or store them on your phone.
"I bought sand bags to put in the low spots on my sidewalk. I woke up one day several floods ago, and it had come through my front door, so I'm just being cautious,” a former flood victim said.
Flooding is nothing new to the area so be sure to check with your insurance agent, making sure you have flood insurance, or visit FEMA.gov to research policies. There is a usually a 30-day enrollment requirement so the day of the storm is not a time to realize you need flood insurance.
You don't have to be a homeowner to qualify for protection. Renter's insurance is always a good idea to protect valuables, and be sure to take anything irreplaceable with you just in case your house floods and you can't return to the home.
Fill up your cars at the pump and get an extra can or two of gasoline because - during times of disaster -- gas stations often run out of fuel.
Stock up on items that don't use electricity, like solar-powered cellphone chargers, crank radios and battery-powered fans.
Pet owners should take extra precaution to make sure our four-legged family members are taken care of. Have an extra bag of pet food o hand so you can feed Fido during any emergency situation, and pack pet medication as a "just in case."
You'll also want to download an app to track weather, such as the CW39 Weather app, which will help you keep an eye on Mother Nature and stay weather aware.
Other local resources:
• Forecasts: National Weather Service Houston-Galveston
• Flood Safety: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
• Local Road Conditions: Houston Transtar
• State Road Conditions: DriveTexas.org