June 2016  

2016 HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE
HARRIS COUNTY IS READY, ARE YOU?

 

Hurricane season has started, and weather forecasters are predicting this season to be more active than last year. The season runs from June 1 through November 30, and the Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HCOHSEM) urges everyone to get ready.

Understanding the difference between National Weather Service watches and warnings is critical to being prepared for hurricanes. A hurricane watch indicates the possibility that a region could experience hurricane conditions within 48 hours. A hurricane warning indicates that sustained winds of at least 74 mph are expected within 36 hours.

Several steps can be taken to prepare for hurricane season: make an emergency supply kit for your family, find out if you live in an evacuation zone, register with the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry if you will need assistance during an evacuation, have a plan for your pets and protect your property.

Prepare an emergency supply kit that includes:
  NOAA weather radio and batteries
  Flashlight and batteries
  Cell phone and charger
  Personal hygiene items and extra eye glasses
  Bottled water and non-perishable food
  Clothing and bedding
  First aid kit, medications and prescriptions
  Special products for babies, elderly and medically fragile family members
  Cash
  Photo ID, important documents and records

If you live in an area that is threatened by a storm surge or is in an evacuation zone, please discuss evacuation plans with your family and do not stay if you are asked to leave. Ask your county or city officials if your home is located in an evacuation zone or check the Zip Zone Evacuation Map.

State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry

The State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry program is a free registry that provides local emergency planners and emergency responders with additional information on the needs in their community. It is available to the elderly, people with disabilities or special medical conditions, and all others who do not have a vehicle or need a ride away from danger.

By registering early, you are helping HCOHSEM better plan for emergencies in our community. Registration is free and voluntary by calling 2‐1‐1. Registration is available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Your information is only used by public safety and transportation agencies to help match the appropriate assistance for your individual evacuation needs.

Have a Plan for Your Pets

The same rules that apply to people apply to pets during an emergency. Never leave your pets behind. Prepare an emergency kit for your pets and a plan on how to care for them when you are on the road or staying at a shelter or hotel.

Make sure pets are up to date on their shots and have collars and identification tags, including a cell phone number where you can be reached if your pet gets lost. Your pet's emergency kit should include:

  Pet carrier or crate
  Leash
  Shot records and medications
  Food, water and feeding bowls
  Waste bags or litter box
     
Find out ahead of time if there will be any shelters set-up to take pets in an emergency. Also, contact motels and hotels in communities outside of your area to find out if they will accept pets.

Shelter-in-place

If you do not live in an evacuation zone, shelter at home until the storm passes. You will be safer at home than exposed to hazardous weather and dangerous road conditions. You will also help keep the roads clear for emergency workers and people evacuating from storm surge areas. You can always leave after the storm passes and local authorities say it is safe to do so.

If you decide that it is safe to stay, understand that you may be without electricity, fresh water, and phone service for some time.

Protect Your Property

When a hurricane watch is in effect, the following measures can help prevent or minimize damage to your home or property:
  Protect windows, sliding glass doors and skylights with shutters or plywood
  Put your car in a garage or other shelter
  Secure boats and trailers
  Secure outdoor furniture, grills and play equipment
  Trim dead or dangerous tree limbs
  Move valuables away from windows
  Store documents, photographs and other valuables in a high safe place
If you are leaving your home, lock and secure the premises. Take small valuables and important documents with you, including copies of your home inventory and insurance policies.

Your Insurance Coverage

Make sure your homeowner's insurance policy is current and that it provides adequate coverage to pay for the full replacement cost of your property. If you live in an area prone to flooding, tornadoes or hurricanes, your standard homeowner's policy may require additional policies to cover flooding and wind damage. Contact your insurance agent regarding windstorm or flood insurance. Do not wait until the last minute; some policies have a waiting period after the purchase date before coverage takes effect. Get more information about windstorm and flood insurance on the following websites:
  Texas Windstorm Insurance Association
  National Flood Insurance Program

Stay Informed

During and following a disaster, cell phone and landline phones may be out of service or congested with calls. When this happens, alternative communication methods may be needed to keep in touch with family and friends and get up-to-date news. In many situations, text messaging has been successful when phone calls were not.

Smart phones and computers can be used to access social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Social media websites can provide a nearly instant update of current events and are a good way to track local news updates.

Television and radio will be important sources of information. Critical information will be broadcast on local channels with updates on the current situation and shelter locations. If your home loses electricity, you can use a battery-powered radio to stay updated.

Stay informed through www.readyharris.org and by monitoring the news media. Local officials will provide information about current conditions, evacuations and re-entry.

You can also view hurricane preparedness videos on YouTube and follow HCOHSEM on Facebook and Twitter.

New Emergency Preparedness App

The Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management recently released a free mobile app, ReadyHarris, just in time for hurricane season. The app helps Harris County residents build a personal preparedness plan and get real-time updates during emergencies.

"Every minute counts when severe weather, or any emergency, threatens our community," said County Judge Ed Emmett. "This app empowers residents to make a personal plan and receive life-saving information at their fingertips."
 
The ReadyHarris app delivers real time weather alerts, hosts a step-by-step guide to building a personalized family disaster plan, offers survival tip sheets, maps of evacuation routes and locates local emergency services. The app is available in both English and Spanish.
 
The release comes at a time when recent surveys find that people depend on their smartphones more than ever for breaking news, important government information and what is happening in their community.
  
"People depend on information to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters," said Emmett. "We want to make sure our community has the best available emergency information at all times, as easily as possible."
A "Need to Know" section offers quick tips on:
  Hurricanes
  Flooding
  Tornadoes
  Wildfires
  Winter Storms
  Thunderstorms
  Functional Needs
  Pet Preparedness
  And More

The free app is available for download on iTunes and Google Play as ReadyHarris. For more information on how to prepare for severe weather and other disasters download the app or visit www.readyharris.org.

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