Houston’s proximity to the Gulf Coast means that sometimes, tropical weather — including hurricanes — may threaten. Although, luckily, the area has been spared a direct hit by a major hurricane in the past several years, that doesn’t mean residents should let their guards down.
With the typical hurricane season in the Atlantic running from June 1 to Nov. 30, we’re right in the middle of hurricane season, so hopefully, most residents have already taken steps to prepare.
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Either way, however, it’s a good idea to keep these tips in mind:
Before a Storm
Here are some things you can do now — before a storm is even brewing — so that you’re prepared in case tropical weather comes your way:
- Make sure you have a three-day supply of non-perishable food and bottled water, as well as other essentials such as flashlights, batteries and a first-aid kit, says the American Red Cross. The organization also suggests having a seven-day supply of medications, a tool kit and a battery-powered radio on hand.
- If you want to buy additional insurance for your home, such as flood insurance, make sure you do so soon, because many policies take at least 30 days to go into effect, says Michael Barry, vice president of media relations for the Insurance Information Institute.
- Make copies of personal documents like birth certificates, prescription information, home/vehicle policy numbers, deeds to your home and/or property and vehicle registration, the Red Cross says. USA.gov suggests storing original documents somewhere safe, like a safe deposit box, and keeping copies at home.
- Keep cash in small denominations on hand, says the Harris County Office of Emergency Management. This can come in handy in case the power goes out in your area, making ATMs and credit cards unusable, according to Ready.gov.
- Have a camera handy so you can take pictures of any damage, the Red Cross suggests.
When a Hurricane or Tropical Storm is Approaching
If a storm is approaching, here are some additional immediate steps to take, according to the Red Cross:
- Fill your car up with gas.
- Bring inside bicycles, lawn furniture and anything else that can be picked up by the wind.
- Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you don’t have shutters, board up windows and doors with plywood.
- Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances.
- Set the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings and keep the doors closed so food will last longer if the power does go out.
After a Storm
Finally, here’s what the Red Cross recommends you should do after a hurricane hits:
- Find out if it is safe to enter your community or neighborhood. Follow the advice of local authorities.
- If it is safe to do so, take pictures of any exterior damage for insurance purposes.
- Before entering your home, look outside for damaged power lines, gas lines, foundation cracks and other exterior damage. It may be too dangerous to enter the home.
- If it is safe to enter your home, inspect the interior of the home for damage and take pictures for insurance purposes.
- Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until authorities advise that it’s free of any contaminants.
- Check the fridge for spoiled food. “If in doubt, throw it out,” the Red Cross says.
- Use flashlights, rather than candles, which can pose a fire hazard.
- If you see dangling power lines, stay away from them, and report them to the electric company.
Keep these tips handy so you’re prepared the next time a hurricane threatens.