5 Important Things To Do Before a Storm Hits
1. Get Informed
Before a storm hits, make sure you know the right resources to get up-to-date weather information. You can:
- Subscribe to national weather alerts.
- Download FEMA app real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide.
- Sign up for community alerts in your area.
- Follow @TDEM, @GovAbbott, @TxDOT, as well as your local county and city governments on Twitter for real time updates.
- Check power outages in your area with the Public Utility Commission’s Electric Outage Map.
- Check the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)’s DriveTexas map for updated road conditions and closures due to flooding and storms.
Keep a list of contact information for your doctors, insurers, family, friends, and neighbors in your emergency kit and on your phone. You should also include these helpful numbers:
- Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM): 512-424-2208
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Assistance: 800-621-3362
- National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Help Center: 877-336-2627
- Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) 24/7 Help Center: 800-788-8247
- TxDOT’s current Texas highway conditions: 1-800-452-9292
- Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) Stranded Motorist Hotline: 1-800-525-5555
- Texas Department of Insurance (TDI)’s Consumer Help Line: 800-252-3439
2. Create an Emergency Kit and Family Communication Plan
Whether you plan to evacuate or shelter at home, it’s critical that you create an emergency supply kit for you and your family. Visit TexasReady.gov for a checklist of supplies you’ll need. Don’t forget additional supplies needed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, like face coverings, hand sanitizer, and disinfectants.
Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes. The best way to make sure everyone is safe is to create an emergency family communication plan ahead of time. Visit TexasReady.gov for a list of questions to answer when creating your communication plan. Make sure you take into account special planning needs for children, elderly individuals, people with functional and access needs, and pets.
If you or someone you know will need additional assistance during an emergency event, you may want to register for the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR).
3. Secure Important Documents
Make sure your important documents are secure in a waterproof container, and stored in your emergency kit. Create digital, password-protected backup copies, stored on a flash drive and/or cloud storage. Don’t forget to include important insurance-related documents, such as:
- Insurance policies, health insurance cards, and your home inventory list
- Wills, medical powers of attorney, and other advance directives
- Property deeds, leases, and mortgages
- Vehicle titles, leases, and loan documents
4. Know Your Evacuation Routes
Before a hurricane, it’s important to know your possible evacuation routes. TxDOT’s website offers maps for evacuation routes from the Texas coast, including Beaumont, Corpus Christi, Houston, Pharr, and Yoakum. Consider printing maps of your evacuation routes and placing them with other important documents in your emergency kit. If you need evacuation assistance, you can dial 2-1-1 for more information.
Identify several different places you could go in an emergency, including locations in different directions. If needed, make sure your accommodations accept pets. Most public shelters only allow service animals.
Check with local officials about what shelter spaces are available in your area. Coronavirus may have altered your community’s plans.
5. Protect Your Property
If a storm is approaching, there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of damage to your home or property. Only take these precautions if you have time to do so safely before a storm arrives.
- Clean debris from gutters and drains.
- Remove any dead limbs or downed branches that may fall and damage buildings or other structures.
- Move cars, lawn furniture, and other outdoor equipment inside to minimize flying debris.
Additionally, before the storm approaches, plan ahead and consider buying:
- Storm shutters or boards to protect your windows and sliding glass doors.
- A generator in case the power goes out.
- Sandbags and tarps to keep water out.
- Surge protectors to protect your electronics in case the power goes out.
- Seal outside wall openings – vents, outdoor electrical outlets, locations where pipes or cables go through the wall – to prevent water from getting in.