By Hayley Hervieux
So the question is this: What can you do when nature comes knocking?
First, be aware that it’s that time of year—hurricane season and tornado season go hand in hand—so it’s best to be prepared, especially here in Texas. Depending on where you live, you might be dealing with one or the other—or even both. The Dallas Morning News notes that this will be an extremely active hurricane season, according to NOAA, so it's best to start thinking ahead.
The most important step in keeping safe from a natural disaster is preparation. There are some basic things you should keep around the home so that when the weather hits you won’t have to go out and get them. Things like water, an emergency supply of non-perishable food, flashlights, radios and extra batteries are just the basics, but think ahead. If you have older family members who have prescriptions or other medical needs, make sure there is enough stocked. Have pets? Think about where they can shelter and have supplies for them on hand as well. Ready.gov has a list of basic disaster supplies.
It’s important to keep these basics around the house to prepare for any storm; but for tornadoes, hurricanes and flash floods, there are some extra things you can do.
Tornadoes can come on so suddenly that it’s important to have an emergency kit already prepared. You need everyone in your family to agree on a plan ahead of time. First, watch the weather and know the warning signs—a dark, greenish sky and sounds like a freight train are the most common. Having a place to take shelter, like a windowless room or closet, is the most important step to agree on. Monitor the weather via radio as long as possible for emergency information. Check out Ready.gov/tornadoes for more steps to take before, during and after a tornado hits.
Here in Texas, we’re pretty well versed in hurricane preparation, but it never hurts to re-check your stock of supplies. In addition to basic disaster preparation, there are a few extra steps you should take and a few extra things you might need. If you don’t have storm shutters make sure you have plywood on hand to board up windows. Everything outside that can't be tied down? Move it inside, and check trees and plants around your house for loose limbs or branches that need trimming. If your area is prone to flooding, prepare for that as well. Check out Ready.gov for more.
Flash floods are caused by heavy rainfall and go hand in hand with hurricane season in Texas. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding during heavy rainfall, it’s good to be especially prepared. Flash floods are a danger to homes, but they're a bigger threat to automobiles and drivers. It only takes around six inches of water to stall most vehicles, and running water can easily wash vehicles away. This is especially important to remember during evacuation procedures. For more ways to prepare, visit Ready.gov/hurricanes.
It is also advisable to have a plan ahead of time so that your family knows how to keep in touch with each other. (http://www.ready.gov/family-communications) Plan ahead so that everyone knows how to get in contact – with each other or with an emergency contact out of town.
If the worst happens, there are resources that can help you connect to family and friends. If you're searching for a missing relative, check the Red Cross Safe and Well Listing. You can register on the site, and if you're within a disaster region you can update your status so friends and family can keep track of you. You can also search for loved ones who are listed, and check their status and messages.
Natural disasters can’t be prevented. The best thing you can do is be prepared.