Getting Organized for Houston’s Hurricane Season | 6 Quick Safety Reminders
If you’ve never lived near the coast, the thought of a hurricane can understandably put one’s stomach into knots. Houston hurricane season is unusual and often unpredictable. The sun can be shining in one part of the city while another is practically underwater. It can be tricky getting to know how to prepare for the storms that are uniquely Houston. When it comes to being organized for hurricane season in Houston, there are a few key rules of thumb to follow, which we’ll outline in this blog.
When you first start putting together your hurricane survival plans, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. There are so many different guides available, some much more thorough than others. We didn’t set out to re-invent the wheel with our advice – rather, we’re just giving you our opinion on the most amazing way to get organized. While planning your kit, be sure to check out official resources from The Red Cross (their Hurricane Safety Checklist is amazing!) and Ready.Gov tips on preparing for hurricanes.
Know What Roads Flood in Houston
Houston doesn’t see a ton of action from hurricane-specific activity. In fact, the number-on thing that you need to be prepared for during a Houston hurricane is flooding. Hurricane Harvey’s rainy weather stalled over Houston, bringing buckets upon buckets of rain. While we didn’t see a ton of damage from winds or lighting, you’re probably aware that the rain did catastrophic damage to our communities.
When hurricanes or tropical storms head toward Houston, be sure to plan your commute carefully. The last thing you need is to get caught in the high water while trying to get home. This map from the Houston Chronicle outlines Houston’s flood-prone areas. Take time to familiarize yourself with a route that isn’t prone to street flooding. Practice driving that route a few times, even if it means taking an extra 10 minutes in the morning. You don’t need the added stress of an unfamiliar road or area when you’re trying to get out of the storm.
Another great resource for planning your drive home during a flood is DriveTexas.org’s real-time incident map. Montgomery County also has a helpful map for showing up-to-date conditions for driving so you’ll know exactly what to expect on your way home.
Listen to the local authorities throughout the day; be sure to adjust your commute whenever necessary. And for goodness sake, turn around, don’t drown! Better yet, if you’re not confident you can make it home, stay somewhere close by – hotel, friend, whatever. Roads can drain very quickly in Houston; don’t panic and stay put if you don’t feel comfortable driving.
Order Your Hurricane Supply Kit NOW
Empty water bottles on the shelves of HEB are a sure sign that’s something’s up here in Houston. Don’t wait until a tropical storm or hurricane is on the way. Waiting will not only cause extra stress, but it is very likely you won’t be able to find everything you need.
The Department of Homeland Security recommends the following in your safety kit:
- Enough water for each person / pet to have a gallon a day
- 3 days of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or crank radio (and extra batteries, of course)
- Light Sources — flashlights and lanterns
- First Aid kit
- Phone Chargers
- Essentials, such as toilet paper, sanitary items, hand sanitizer, garbage bags, disinfecting wipes
- Manual Can Opener
- Tools, specifically a wrench or pliers
- A map of the local area in case your cell phone doesn’t work
We also recommend investing in a generator (it’s Houston, trust us you’ll use it), but please be sure to use it properly – never inside and away from windows to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Keep Your Gas Tank Filled at LEAST Halfway
This can be cumbersome, but more often than not, storms and floods hit Houston unexpectedly. Depending on the storm, gas can run out. During the evacuation of Tropical Storm Allison, lots of Houstonians who were trying to evacuate ran out of gas on the highway. This is a big way to set yourself up for success and ensure you can get wherever you need to go safely.
Prepare Your Home Ahead of Time
Preparing for hurricane season at your home doesn’t have to be something you do right before the storm. Make sure you keep maintenance items, such as your gutters or drainage system, fully clean of debris and functional. Ensure your trees remained trimmed
Keep handy items, such as sandbags, sheeting, or other items on hand and someplace secure in your garage or external storage.
If a storm is coming, move lightweight items, like patio furniture or garbage cans, inside and anchor down any items that you cannot.
Keep Important Documents Handy
In Houston, flooding is inevitable and should be expected. Have your insurance and other important documents (financial, medical, education, legal, etc) readily available for easy access after the storms. You never know if you’ll need to evacuate, what kind of damage you’ll encounter, or how the storm will impact you. The LAST thing you need to do is to search for those items after it becomes clear you need them. Put them in a waterproof container that is easy to carry.
DO NOT Walk-through Flooded Water
As much fun as it looks to float down the street in an inner tube, and yes – we’ve seen that on the streets of Houston (we’re talking to you, Washington Ave), be smart and stay clear. Sewage, debris, and waste and more are floating in those waters. You could get sick, or even drown. Often times, the water is much deeper than it looks. The water could be also be electrically charged, putting you at risk for electric shock. Stay safe and avoid getting into any kind of flooded water at all costs.
What to do after Houston Floods
When cleaning up items that were touched by the flood, be sure to wear gloves and proper protection gear. Most items damaged by flood waters cannot be replaced for the very reason described above (and mold, of course). You should NEVER store items that are wet or moldy; be sure any items you managed to save from the flood are completely dry and safe to put into storage.
Be sure to watch local news to stay in the loop of any water supply safety measures taken. More often than not, the water will not be safe to drink for a few days after a flood in Houston. It’s okay to shower or wash your hands, but during this time, it’s best to use bottled water to brush your teeth and for drinking.