How to stay safe before, during and after a storm
How to stay safe before, during and after a storm

In Southeast Texas, harsh weather is nothing new, and 2024 promises to be a year of active weather.

Although some storm-related injuries and emergencies are unavoidable, there are many precautions residents should take to reduce the risk of being involved in such an accident.

Cy-Fair Fire Department Assistant Chief Michael Clements explained that a little preparation can go a long way.

Clements has broken down basic safety tips into three categories: how to prepare before, during and after a storm.

You can watch his full interview above.

Before a storm:

  • Trim bushes and trees to prevent them from falling on power lines or damaging your home.

  • Prepare your home to withstand wind and debris. Obtain plywood and tarps in advance. If your home is damaged, plywood is preferable, but tarps are an easy-to-use item to cover openings in your home.

  • Have a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water. Also make sure you have flashlights, batteries, first aid supplies, portable battery chargers, etc.

  • Remember your medications. Keep an adequate supply of your prescription and over-the-counter medications on hand. Pharmacies often have no power and are unable to fill your prescriptions. If possible, stock up on a 90-day supply or use a mail-order pharmacy that is not affected by local storms.

  • Find out where to get emergency information about storm warnings, evacuations and shelters.

  • Look for insurance policies so you have them on hand at all times. You need to know what to do if your car, home or property is damaged or you are affected by a flood.

Anticipate power outages:

  • Charge anything that needs charging in advance. Besides the obvious three days’ worth of food and water, don’t forget portable battery chargers for your phones. If you absolutely MUST charge your car, make sure the garage door is open and you back the car out of the garage.

  • Be sure to educate yourself in advance on how to operate a generator safely. Be sure to set it up in an open area, NOT an enclosed one.

  • If you depend on medical equipment that needs power, have an emergency plan in place. First, we recommend that you leave the affected area immediately. If you stay there, however, you need a plan in case of a power outage. Think about O2 concentrators, ventilators and CPAP machines. How will you keep them running if there is a power outage? If you don’t have a backup generator, plan for three days of power for your equipment. If you need O2, have several portable O2 cylinders in reserve.

  • Make a list of friends or family members you can stay with, or find a local evacuation center where you can recharge.

  • When you leave your home, take your appliances and power cords with you. During a storm, supplies of such equipment in hospitals and emergency rooms are scarce.

Preparing for a flood:

  • There will be flooding. Houston is called the Bayou City for a reason. We live in a low-lying coastal city that is very different than life on the east or west coast. Tropical storms that we have here are different than other types of storms. Plus, people come to Houston from all over who may not be familiar with the weather. Newcomers need to be prepared.

  • HELPFUL HINT: The State of Texas and the Texas Department of Emergency Management offer resources for individuals and families on their websites.

  • Prepare a go pack. Every home needs an emergency kit that will provide 72 hours of supplies in the event of floods and hurricanes. You may be asked to evacuate or shelter in place. Be prepared for both. A checklist of these kits can be found on the Cy-Fair Fire Department website.
  • Make sure you have emergency power and a weather radio. Follow Ready Houston and KPRC 2’s Storm Tracker to stay up to date on storms.

During the storm:

  • Stay safe. The safest place in the house is an indoor space. Stay away from windows and glass. This could be a hallway, bathroom, or closet. For extra protection, you can stand under something sturdy like a heavy table or workbench.

  • In case of a storm, call 911. In the event of a medical emergency, call 911. However, please note that during a weather event, non-life-threatening calls will be prioritized and it may take longer than usual for help to arrive. Also, keep in mind that there are situations where it is not safe for our vehicles to remain on the road and our units are asked to remain at stations.

After the storm:

  • Assess the damage. After you are sure the threat of severe weather has passed, inspect your property for damage. When traveling through storm damage, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes. Stay away from damaged buildings and watch for falling branches or trees.

  • Be alert and watch for flooding, for example, expect underwater debris on the roads and in unexpected areas.

  • Never drive through a flooded road. Turn around, don’t drown!

  • Assume that all downed power lines are live and dangerous. Stay at least 30 feet away and call 911 immediately. NEVER approach, touch, or drive over a downed line. Warn others to stay away as well.

  • Avoid using candles because of the fire hazard. Use battery-operated lamps and flashlights instead.

  • Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Use generators, grills and camp stoves only outdoors and in well-ventilated areas.

  • Don’t risk eating spoiled food, as it can make you very sick. Throw away food that has become wet or warm. If in doubt, throw it away!

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