People living near coastal areas know that now is the time to get ready for hurricane season — which officially starts on Saturday and lasts six months.
But for new residents who’ve never experienced a major storm, it’s a matter of getting them in that hurricane mindset.
Francisco Sanchez is with the Harris County Office of Emergency Management.
“I think that if you looked in your pantry right now, you would probably have enough supplies to last you for a week. It’s important that you be able to look around your home, see what you need to be able to sustain yourself for seven days. You’ll find if you take a good look around your home, that a lot of that is already there, but having an awareness of it, knowing what you might need to go out and replenish those supplies now is very important.”
It’s important to include a first aid kit, one that you can buy or build yourself.
Sanchez says for the most part, people are aware of the essentials: food, water, medicine, flashlight & batteries, but you might overlook some things that could make the disruption much more comfortable like insect repellent, and …
“Sunscreen is also important. Things get wet during a hurricane so, big plastic bags are also important to take, so either trash bags or big zip-lock bags. Even if you’re evacuating, those things are a nice comfort. If you’re evacuating, take your favorite pillow and your favorite blanket. Some of the things like that, that will make your evacuation or your shelter in place more comfortable and more bearable, also it’s important not to forget.”
Make sure to create a disaster plan with your family. Know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind. If you have pets, make a plan for them if you need to evacuate.
Sanchez says communication is essential to riding a storm out intact.
“And speaking of communications, the phone lines go down. Everyone’s on their cell phones, so talking becomes difficult. Texting is gonna be the easiest way to communicate, so be prepared to text a single person in your family that doesn’t live in the area that can sort of be the central person to keep everybody informed of where everyone is and how they’re doing.”
Last but not least, have cash in the event ATMs go down because of a power outage. Five years after Ike, Sanchez hopes hurricane amnesia doesn’t get in the way of being prepared.
“If you are new to the Harris County area, write down your hurricane plan. Get the family around the table, designate roles and responsibilities for everybody. Go through where your kit is going to be. Make a decision whether or not you’re going to stay, or go for a hurricane based on where you live, and practice that and to drill that, so that everybody has exercised that and knows what to do when that time comes.”
You can find more information on being hurricane ready at www.readyharris.org.