Texas Children’s West Campus Experts Answering Common Hurricane Preparedness Questions
As we enter into another hurricane season, it’s important that families, especially in the Gulf-Cost region, be prepared for any potential storms that may impact our area this year. There are a number of precautions that you can take now, at the start of hurricane season, to ensure that you and your family have the necessary plans and equipment in case of an emergency. Robin Davis, senior emergency management planner with Texas Children’s Hospital, answers some of the most common questions about preparing for hurricane season.
Now open at I-10 and Barker Cypress, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus houses 19 subspecialty outpatient clinics, inpatient hospital services and the only 24/7 dedicated pediatric emergency center in the West Houston area. Visit www.westcampus.texaschildrens.org.
Expert: Robin Davis, Senior Emergency Management Planner, Texas Children’s Hospital.
Q: When is hurricane season?
Hurricane season has already begun. Running from June 1st through November 30th each year, it’s estimated that there will be 11 to 14 named storms during the 2012 season. Most of the Atlantic and Caribbean storms form during these six months due to increase in air and water temperature. However, as we saw earlier in May with Tropical Storm Alberto, hurricanes don’t carry a calendar.
Q: What actions should I take to make sure my family is ready if a hurricane hits?
We recommend that everyone follows three basic steps for hurricane preparedness:
1. Make a plan: Make sure your family knows what to do before, during and after a disaster.
2. Get a kit: Build an emergency kit with household supplies that your family may need.
3. Stay informed: Pay attention to important information from public safety officials and weather conditions.
The great thing about these steps is that they can be used to get your family ready for any type of disaster.
Q: What should go in my plan?
Your plan will help you document all the important contact information and resources you may need for a disaster. The plan should answer questions like: how will my family members get in touch with me during a disaster, and who would I contact for items such as medications for my family and my pets? For events like hurricanes, you will also want to build a checklist of actions to take before the hurricane hits (bring loose items indoors, board up windows, fill up bathtubs, etc.) and after the storm passes (take pictures of damage, call insurance provider, etc.)
There are several websites out there, such as the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org), that provide templates and other tools to build your family plan.
Q: What supplies should I have in my kit?
You should have at least a three day supply of food – non-perishable and easy to prepare items – and water – one gallon per person, per day. Your kit should also include a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, cell phones with chargers, extra batteries, blankets, cash, camera (to take photos of potential damaged areas) and one week supply of medications. When building your kit, don’t forget the accessories like a manual can-opener, utensils, sanitizer and bug spray. Ready.gov (www.ready.gov) has a great checklist to help you get started.
Q: What if I have a child with a chronic disease or condition?
If your child needs a special prescription medication, such as insulin, ask your pediatrician for an extra copy of the prescription to keep on hand in case a storm is coming. This serves as an additional back-up to any medications you have on hand. If your child has a chronic condition and needs specialized medical attention, for instance dialysis, work with your medical provider to determine a specialized plan for your child. You should also locate the medical providers and pharmacies in your area, and potential shelter or evacuation areas, and be sure to have their phone numbers on hand in case of an emergency.
If you live in an evacuation area and need assistance to get out before the storm, you can call 2-1-1 and sign up for the Transportation Assistance Registry, a free service offered by the State of Texas.
Q: Is there a resource available to help my family track potential hurricanes and stay informed?
There are lots of great free websites that provide really useful information for hurricane tracking such as Weather.com, the National Hurricane Center or our local news media websites. Kids might be interested in WeatherChannelKids.com and WeatherWizKids.com, where they can learn more about the history and science of hurricanes and tropical storms.
Q: How do we determine if it’s best to evacuate or stay and shelter in place?
For hurricane season, or any disaster, it’s important that you have a plan for both. If you are going to evacuate, make sure you know where you are going, how you are going to get there and what supplies you need to take with you. If you are going to shelter in place, you will need to ensure your kit has enough supplies to take care of your family without basics like electricity or water. For families in the Katy area, if you are going to evacuate, make sure you pay attention for information on contraflow lanes and other traffic adjustments. If a hurricane approaches the Houston-Galveston area, public safety officials will be working hard to evacuate coastal residents that may be impacted by storm surge and flooding and may ask inland residents to remain off the roads.
Q: If we shelter in place, where is the safest place for my family to be?
If you are instructed by local authorities to shelter in place, you, your family and your pets should immediately get indoors. Your family should go to the center of the house in a room with the fewest windows and doors and be sure to bring your emergency kit with you. It’s important that you don’t call local police or fire stations (9-1-1) as these channels will be needed by the local authorities.
For more information, visit your local Office of Emergency Management.
City of Katy – www.cityofkaty.com
Harris County – www.hcoem.org
Fort Bend County – www.fbcoem.org
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