It’s storm season in Texas, which means tropical storms and hurricanes could bring with them a variety of life-threatening hazards, including high winds, flooding and loss of utilities. Being as prepared as possible is the best measure that you and your family can take against storms, as much of the damage associated with storm season can be reduced or prevented by planning ahead of time and having an emergency strategy in place.
Protecting Your Home from Damage
Due to debris, extreme wind and more, damage to your home may be unavoidable during severe thunderstorms or hurricanes, but it can be reduced with proper precautions put into place. To safeguard your home from damage, be sure to take the following measures.
Board Up Windows & Doors
Windows, doors, the roof and garage doors are considered the four weakest points of the home; be sure to inspect and repair the caulking around all exterior openings and stucco cracks. If there’s enough time before the storm hits, consider installing storm shutters over exposed windows and doors, as well as any other glass surfaces to help protect your home as effectively as possible. Placing exterior-grade plywood over windows and doors is another viable solution; be sure to measure your windows ahead of time so that you know how much you need to buy. If instructed to by local officials, turn off your utilities and fill tubs with water to be able to flush toilets.
Inspect Your Roof & Clean Gutters and Downspouts
During a wind storm, the force of the wind will push against your home’s exterior, and this force is transferred from the roof to the exterior walls down to the foundation of your home; homes become damaged when the energy from the wind is not properly transferred to the ground. Be sure to check your roof to ensure that there is no existing damage, and go up to the attic to check or reinforce hurricane straps. Cleaning your eavestroughs and downspouts will help to reduce risk of flooding in the home.
Store Loose Lawn Items Away
High winds will pick up loose objects in your front yard or backyard, so be sure to store them safely away to lessen the risk of them flying into your windows and doors. Close and fold away any shade awnings or umbrellas; turn propane tanks off and bring barbecues into the garage; secure outdoor items like potted plants, lawn furniture and ornaments; and put garbage cans away. Don’t forget to inspect your property for any loose tree limbs or branches that might become airborne during a storm.
Have an Emergency Plan in Place
With preventative measures taken to protect your home, it’s time to ensure that you and your loved ones all remain safe during a storm. Establish a disaster plan that suits your household needs and ensure that each member of the family is aware on how to respond in the event of an emergency. Your disaster plan should address escape routes, utility power-downs, pet care and emergency contacts and meeting points.
Prepare an Emergency Supply Kit Ahead of Time
Having an emergency supply kit is a useful — and sometimes life-saving — tool to have ready in the event that you need to evacuate. Your kit should be safely stored in your emergency gathering location and should include the following items:
- One gallon of water per person per day, for at least three days
- A three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- A first aid kit, including gauze
- Any medications required
- A manual can opener for food
- A whistle to signal for help, and a dust mask to filter contaminated air
- Cell phones with chargers, and an external battery source
- Pet food, leashes, crates and medications
As a valued member of the Empire family, we hope you and your loved ones stay safe and remain as prepared as possible during storm season. For more helpful resources, visit the Texas Disaster Education Network webpage.