Houston: Get Prepared! Emergency Tips for the City

Why Emergency Prep Matters in Houston

Houston, a dynamic coastal city and a major economic hub, is renowned for its energy industry, world-class medical centers, and the NASA Space Center. But along with its accomplishments, Houston faces unique challenges due to its location. The city’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico makes it particularly vulnerable to hurricanes, tropical storms, and their associated risks like flooding and storm surge.

Your Emergency Playbook

  • Develop a family emergency plan: Discuss what you’ll do in different disaster scenarios: Where will you meet if separated? Who is your out-of-town contact to let everyone know you’re safe? Include your pets in the plan, knowing where you might evacuate with them if needed.
  • Identify your risks: Beyond hurricanes, Houston can experience tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and even winter weather events. Learn the most likely hazards for your neighborhood.
  • Sign up for emergency alerts: The City of Houston has multiple ways to receive alerts, including text messages and social media updates. Get the information you need quickly.

Build Your Kit

  • Your kit should include a three-day supply of food and water for each person in your household. Focus on non-perishables, but include some comfort foods too – disasters are stressful!
  • Essentials for your kit: First-aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, a hand-crank radio, a map (in case GPS is down), hygiene products, and cash (ATMs may not work).
  • Don’t forget: Medications, copies of important documents (insurance, IDs) in a waterproof container, pet supplies, a change of clothes, and some activities to relieve boredom if confined indoors.

Stay Informed

  • Monitor the weather: Local news outlets and the National Weather Service are your best resources for reliable forecasts and updates on developing storms.
  • Prepare for power outages: Have battery-powered or hand-crank radios, power banks for charging phones, and alternative lighting sources like lanterns.
  • Know your evacuation zone: If you live in an area prone to storm surge flooding, be aware of your evacuation zone and when an evacuation order might be given.

Know When to Act

  • Evacuation orders mean go! Leaving early gives you the best chance of avoiding traffic and dangerous conditions. Have a pre-planned destination, whether it’s with friends or at a designated shelter.
  • Sheltering in place: If staying home, choose a sturdy interior room, away from windows. Bring your emergency supplies into that safe space.

Additional Tips

  • Flood insurance: Standard homeowner’s policies often don’t cover floods. Consider this extra protection if your home is at risk.
  • Home safety: Maintain your home – regularly check for roof damage, keep gutters clear, and have trees professionally trimmed to reduce potential falling hazards.
  • Know your neighbors: A strong community network can be invaluable during and after an emergency. Help each other prepare and check in when storms pass.

Weather in Houston, Texas

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Cristelle Avellaneda

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Frequently Asked Questions

Start by learning about the potential hazards in your area. Are you in a flood-prone zone? Is your neighborhood at risk for tornadoes? Knowing the risks helps you tailor your emergency plans and supplies.

Absolutely! Start with what you have – foods you already eat, basic first aid supplies, and flashlights you own. Gradually add items each time you go to the store, spreading out the cost. Look for sales, use coupons, and remember, being somewhat prepared is much better than not being prepared at all.

Get information straight from the source! Sign up for official city alerts (text/social media), tune in to local news, and follow the National Weather Service for reliable forecasts and updates.

Include your pets in your plan! Know in advance if the place you’re evacuating to will accept animals. Have pet carriers, a leash, vaccination records, and pet supplies in your emergency kit. Some shelters may allow pets, so do your research beforehand.

Focus on small steps! Choose one thing each week to do – check your smoke alarm batteries, build a first aid kit, learn your evacuation zone. Consistency is key, and over time those small actions add up to greater preparedness.