Texas homeowners are no strangers to hurricane preparedness. Each year, from June to November, we’re on heightened alert for the possibility of one of nature’s fiercest storms, hoping it won’t arrive on our doorsteps. While it’s still early in the hurricane season, it might be a good time to review your disaster plan and consider getting a power generator to stay powered up through the storm.
Hurricane Preparedness Tips to Keep You and Your Family Safe
The National Weather Service is predicting six to 10 hurricanes for 2020 and expects three to six of those to be major hurricanes. That’s not even counting the other tropical storms that are forecast for this year. With more hurricanes expected, it increases the odds that Texas will be in the bullseye for at least one landfalling storm.
Preparing for a hurricane is probably something you’ve done your whole life. But, it never hurts to review these hurricane safety tips:
Devise a hurricane plan.
Hurricane preparedness always goes more smoothly when you plan ahead, well before a storm hits.
This means assembling an emergency disaster kit, which we discuss in the section below.
The moment a hurricane is on the radar for Texas residents, you should ensure that your automobile is ready, just in case. This means making sure your gas tank is full and having an emergency kit if you need to leave. If you plan to stay home when the hurricane hits, move all vehicles into your garage.
Decide where you will go if you decide to leave. If you plan to stay with relatives or friends, check with them to make sure it’s okay. Should you decide to leave the Houston area, you’ll also want to identify evacuation routes.
If you plan to stay at a hotel and own a pet, call around well in advance of a storm to find out which ones are pet-friendly. Otherwise, decide how your animals will be cared for.
It’s also a good idea to have an emergency phone number list near each phone in your house or on your refrigerator. Don’t forget to program the numbers in your cell phone as well.
Put together a disaster kit.
The standard advice is that your disaster kit should contain enough non-perishable food, water, medication, and other basic supplies for at least 72 hours. That’s a minimum recommendation.
Remember that hurricanes have the potential to severely disrupt infrastructure. Stores could be closed, roads could be cut off, power could be out for days, and you may not be able to work unless you have access to electricity.
Whether you evacuate or stay at home, your emergency disaster kit should have many of the same items. But, there will always be items that are unique to your situation and what your family might need.
For instance, if you have someone in the family on oxygen, you’ll want to take those needs into consideration and plan accordingly. Likewise, if you have pets, you’ll want to remember provisions for them.
Store items in waterproof plastic bags or containers. Have at least three days of water for each member of the family, ensuring that there’s a gallon per person, per day. Some of the other items to consider are:
- Non-perishable food
- Battery-operated radio
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Manual can opener
- Disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer
- Prescription and non-prescription medications
- Special items for babies (formula, diapers, etc.), seniors (medication), and animals (food, dog tags, etc.)
- Important documents (insurance policies, bank account records, etc., electronic records or stored in a waterproof bag)
- Fire extinguisher (at home)
- Matches (kept in a waterproof container)
- Charged cell phones (don’t forget to bring chargers with you when evacuating)
- Duct tape and plastic sheeting (when sheltering in place)
- Tools to turn off utilities if it becomes necessary
Evacuate when necessary.
If you lived in Texas during Hurricane Rita, then you probably remember the nightmare that ensued on 1-45 as Houston residents tried to flee the area. So when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, everyone was reluctant to evacuate. Then the city was hit with catastrophic flooding and winds from a Category 4 hurricane.
When ordered to evacuate or your gut says to leave, it’s probably best to do so. Have an evacuation kit ready anytime a hurricane makes its way into the Gulf, just in case.
Sheltering in Place and Preparing Your Home for the Storm
Texans are stoic individuals, and many of us just stay put during hurricanes. It’s important to prepare your home for any hurricane, whether you stay home or not. Here’s how to do it:
- Place storm shutters or plywood outside your home’s window frames to protect the windows and internal contents of your home. This will also keep you and your family safe from shattering glass.
- Pick up items in your yard that could blow around in high winds. Objects hurled from hurricane-force winds could damage your home or cause injury. These items include lawn furniture, BBQ grills, bicycles, children’s play items, garden statuaries, and anything else that’s loose in your yard.
- In addition to having drinking water on hand, fill bathtubs and sinks with water for washing just in case the water supply is deemed unsafe after the storm.
- Be prepared to turn off electricity to your home if you see downed power lines, or if flooding impacts the electrical system of your home. Many homeowners also turn their power off when they decide to evacuate for a tropical system. Don’t go near downed electrical lines and avoid flooded roads.
- If you have a power generator, ensure that it’s in good working order before the storm. An electrician can evaluate your generator and determine if there’s an issue. If you don’t have a generator, you might want to consider getting one.
Added Protection During and After a Hurricane
The guidelines above represent the mere basics of preparing for a hurricane. But, as a homeowner weathering the storm, you can do more for added protection.
Hurricanes often yield power outages and electrical disruptions for days to come. The volatile weather conditions also leave your home vulnerable to power surges. With this in mind, there are things you can do to fortify your Houston home’s electrical system.
Surge protectors are a line of defense against the destruction that volatile weather can bring to your home. Any surge or spike in your home’s electrical current can damage your appliances and electrical devices. A surge protector redirects excess voltage away from those devices.
There are two types of power generators that can help if your home loses power during a hurricane – portable generators and standby power generators.
Portable generators will only power up a couple of appliances and perhaps a room or two. This is sufficient for homeowners who are concerned with preventing loss of refrigerated and frozen food.
But, the ultimate in hurricane preparedness and comfort during and after a hurricane is a whole-house generator, or standby generator. This type of generator allows you to remain functional in your home, nearly unimpeded, if electrical power is lost. Standby power generators are programmed to automatically come on when electricity to your home goes out.
This is a boon since so many of us are able to work remotely from home. A standby generator will provide your family comfort and power air conditioning to your home.
It will keep it secure, with all lights illuminating your home, which is safer for your family to navigate while deterring looters looking to take advantage of the situation. And it’ll keep you functional, minimizing the negative impacts an extended power outage might do otherwise.
Standby generators and surge protection are worth the peace of mind for you and your family in the event of a hurricane.
If there’s a silver lining in regard to hurricanes, it’s that we know when they’re coming. That gives us time to prepare for the best possible outcome.
Heeding advice from officials, having a hurricane plan, assembling a disaster kit, and preparing your Texas home for potential tropical systems all go a long way in contributing to the comfort and protection of you and your family.
Call on our electrical experts at 713-863-1133 to find out more about how surge protection and power generators can benefit you during and after a storm. Our service area extends all around Harris County and many areas beyond Houston.