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Preparing for Disasters

Planning ahead helps keep your family safe

No matter where you live in Texas, it’s important to learn about the potential hazards near you to get ahead of possible disasters. Have you considered the types of disasters you may face? Do you know what your risk is for hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, winter storms and wildfires?

As February demonstrated, the worst can happen anytime, so it’s important to take disaster preparation seriously. Planning for scenarios such as prolonged power outages or a lack of safe drinking water will make it easier for you and your family to manage a disaster.

Make a Plan

Disasters can happen suddenly, so knowing where your family is and how to communicate with them is important. That’s why you need to make a plan. Sit down with your whole family and think through various emergency and disaster situations:

  • What would we do in case of a fire, hurricane, flood or tornado?
  • Where would we meet if we got separated?
  • How will we communicate if phones are not working?
  • Who should be our family’s emergency contacts?
  • Where should we go if we have to evacuate and how should we get there?
  • What if we have no home to return to?

As part of your plan, record:

  • Birthdates.
  • Social Security numbers. Keep these separate from other information for identity security purposes.
  • Medical provider contact information.
  • Medical information, including a list of prescription medications and dosages.
  • Medical and property insurance information.
  • Work and school phone numbers and addresses.
  • Emergency contacts.
  • Designated evacuation and family reunification sites.
  • Phone numbers of family and friends.

Local authorities will provide direction on the need to shelter in place or evacuate. You should have a plan and be prepared for either situation. If you must evacuate, where will you go and how will you get there? If you need to shelter in place, do you have what you need to survive for at least 72 hours?

During many emergencies and disasters, cellphone networks may not work. Do you have another form of communication? How will you receive updates from local authorities to know when the emergency or disaster is over? How will you contact family members?

Build a Kit

No matter the type of disaster, you will need to have food, water and essential supplies for your family and pets.

Pack your supplies in a portable container. A waterproof container is best. If needed, divide your supplies into multiple containers so they are easier to carry. You may also want to create a smaller go-kit of basic supplies in a backpack. If you must leave on foot, you can carry it with you.

Basic supplies should include:

  • A three-day supply of nonperishable food, such as canned or pouched items.
  • 1 gallon of water per day for each person and pet.
  • A manual can opener.
  • Baby items (food, formula, bottles, diapers) and pet supplies, if they’re needed.
  • A first-aid kit.
  • Medications.
  • Hand sanitizer and wipes.
  • Flashlights, a battery-powered radio and batteries.

Keep your supplies ready in an easily accessible area. Keep a list of the items you will need to add at the last minute, such as medications, in clear view on your kit. And don’t forget to periodically replace items that may expire, such as food and batteries.

Once your plan is complete, print it and keep it in a safe place. And don’t forget to practice your plan. The more you practice, the safer you and your family will be during and after a disaster.