We’re still learning how to manage in this COVID-19 world. While many things have changed this year, one thing you can count on is that natural disasters will happen despite the fact that we’re already dealing with a global pandemic.
Hurricanes, tornadoes and floods are all possibilities in the coming months. Regarding hurricanes - the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has stated that multiple climate factors are pointing to a busy Atlantic hurricane season this year - which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, 2020.
As we know, when a Category 4 or 5 hits our coast, South Texas often experiences heavy rains and flash flooding. Plan ahead to protect yourself and your family in the event of approaching bad weather or other natural disasters. FEMA recommends you take these protective measures in the event of a hurricane:
- Sign up for local alerts and warnings - keep up with weather reports.
- Prepare to evacuate by testing your emergency communication plans, learn evacuation routes and figure out where your family will stay during the storm.
- Pack a "go bag" that includes masks and hand sanitizers to help prevent catching COVID-19. Especially if you end up in close quarters with other people.
- Stock up on emergency supplies.
- Protect your property by installing sewer backflow valves, anchoring fuel tanks, reviewing insurance policies and photographing and listing belongings.
- Pull together and protect your important financial, medical and legal documents.
Survive the hurricane
- Follow recommendations from local authorities.
- If told to evacuate, don’t delay - get your “go bag” and leave immediately.
- Stay away from windows and seek shelter on the lowest level in an interior room.
- Move to higher ground if there’s flooding or a flood warning.
- Turn Around Don’t Drown. Never walk or drive on flooded roads.
- Call 9-1-1 if you have an emergency situation.
Additional safety after the hurricane
- Return to the area only after authorities say it’s safe.
- Never walk or drive on flooded roads or through floodwaters.
- Look out for downed trees, poles and power lines.
- Don’t remove heavy debris by yourself.
- Don’t drink tap water unless local authorities tell you it’s safe.
To help you keep up with current local information and to learn emergency safety tips for many types of disasters including hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and more, you can download FEMA’s app to keep you up-to-date with life-saving alerts from the National Weather Service and other resources.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends we add masks or face coverings to our disaster supplies kit. Put in more soap and hand sanitizer than normal, because if you lose access to clean water, the CDC indicates you will likely need those items to help prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus.
Keep this in mind when a hurricane is approaching:
- Tie-down loose items around your property; remove any trees or brush that can cause additional damage in high winds.
- Check out ready.gov and develop your home and work crisis plans in advance.
- The National Hurricane Center offers timely, detailed information.
- The local National Weather Service is also a useful resource.
- Make emergency plans if you live in an area prone to flooding.
We're here for you when you need us. University Health routinely collaborates with local and regional authorities in preparation for these types of events and also works closely with multiple organizations and agencies during emergency responses.