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Hurricane Preparedness Essential for Injury and Damage Prevention

  Hurricane Preparedess Final ChartTomorrow kicks off national hurricane preparedness week, going from May 15-21st. This year, Texas has already experienced a great deal of flooding and chaotic weather. This coming week is essential in preparing us for the more severe weather we are likely to experience in the future. The National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has planned a full weekly schedule, and deemed what should be gone over each day to ensure safety and preparedness during hurricane season. We are going to follow their schedule day by day, and include even more information to ensure that you and your belongings are safe if severe weather hits Texas.

Day 1 - Sunday: Determine Your Risk

The area you live in makes a huge difference in the severity of the hurricane you experience. Do you live in a coastal city such as Galveston? Or are you in a landlocked city like Austin? Well, in the event of a hurricane both cities are likely to experience damage, although the problems each face will be drastically different. That is the same for areas within the same city. Do you live high up on top of a hill, or at a lower altitude? The higher up you are, the less likely you are to need as much protection from flooding; however you are still likely to experience very strong winds and home damage. Really, your location makes a huge difference. Want to see the trajectory of past hurricanes in your area? Check out the Historical Hurricane Tracks and see if your neighborhood was ever a victim. But we should emphasize that, even if you live in a landlocked city, you should always prepare during hurricane season. Austin and the surrounding area has been known to experience some dangerous weather due to hurricanes, especially since we are only around 150 miles from the Gulf. Although the coastal towns experience the worst, Austin definitely gets hit with some dangerous weather, so don't think "it won't happen to me".

Day 2 - Monday: Develop an Evacuation Plan

First of all, do you live in a hurricane evacuation zone? Austin does not have a hurricane evacuation zone, but other areas of Texas do. Seaside cities and towns are often part of the hurricane evacuation zone. Check here for your evacuation zone if you live on the gulf of Texas. If you do not live in a hurricane evacuation zone, make sure you have a plan in place. Do you have a friend with a home high on top of a hill with a basement? You want to make sure that if your home will be unsafe during a hurricane that you have a place to go. You want to make sure you are somewhere far away from windows and away from potential hazardous flooding. You shouldn't only plan where you would go, but how you would get there. Do you have a car that drives well in severe weather? Is the place you've planned nearby, or do you need to drive a far distance? The closer your destination is the better off you will be. Also, if you have a pet, make sure you are choosing a place to evacuate that allows animals, because some shelters do not. So, you should an evacuation plan not only for yourself, but your pets as well.

Day 3 - Tuesday: Secure an Insurance Check-Up

Do you own a home or vehicle? Make sure you talk to insurance to confirm that you are fully covered in the event of permanent damage. Standard Home Owner Insurance does NOT cover flooding, so it essential to call your insurance and prepare. If you need to set up flooding insurance, check out www.floodsmart.gov which is the National Flooding Insurance Program. This also requires a 30 day waiting period, so please act quickly since hurricane season is approaching. You should be checking your insurance annually, and it is better to do so long before hurricane season so you are prepared far in advance. Also, make sure your home and vehicles are prepared for hurricane season by going through your insurance policy and ensuring that specific damages will be covered. In the event that a hurricane hits, make sure you have your insurance in a secure place, and grab all necessary documents before evacuating.

Day 4 - Wednesday: Assemble Disaster Supplies

It is essential to have supplies stocked in the event of a hurricane. Even if there isn't a hurricane, any sudden severe weather could rob you of power, so it is good to be well stocked and prepared. Here is a list of things you should have in the event of power loss:

  • Non-perishable food
  • Bottled water
  • Batteries
  • Flash light
  • Battery powered radio
  • Battery or solar powered phone charger
  • Extra cash
  • Candles
  • Lighter and/or matches
  • Medicine/first aid kit
  • Gas: try to fill your car beforehand, in the event that your whole city loses power, you will be unable to fill your car at a station.
  • Camera: to take photos of damages

All of these supplies should be able to last a week, because it is better to be safe than sorry.

Day 5 - Thursday: Strengthen Your Home

This step is especially essential if you plan to stay home for the storm's entirety. You want to make sure it is as secure and safe as possible. Here are some necessary steps to protect your home:

  • Have a garage? Make sure you keep your vehicles in there, and move all items if you use it as a storage facility. Also make sure you are boarding up your garage door, as it is one of the most vulnerable parts of your home.
  • Trim the trees outside your home to ensure branches do not cause unnecessary damage from broken branches.
  • Purchase the best window coverings possible, and board up all windows and doors.
  • Bring all loose furniture and items inside so that they cannot blow away or cause damage to your home or vehicle.

For more tips on strengthening your home, check out the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes' (FLASH) website here.

Day 6 - Friday: Identify Your Trusted Sources of Information

Do you just turn on the news whenever you have a spare moment and flip through all the different news sources? If you don't have a valued news source, it is time to find one. It is important to know where to check for information during severe weather, and NOAA recommends the following:

Definitely have a source in all areas, such as a radio, television, and online source. Set up alerts on your phone ASAP. Not just for hurricanes, but for any and all major events.

Day 7 - Saturday: Complete Your Written Hurricane Plan

It is important for yourself and your family to have a solid emergency plan intact. Write down a list of essential things such as the following:

  • Emergency contacts
  • Supply check list
  • Evacuation locations
  • Where valuables are stored: e. camera, cash, essential documents such as all passports and medical records.
  • List of trusted sources

Having a plan in place and necessary supplies will make a scary endeavor a little less chaotic. You and your family will be prepared and ready and it will make all the difference. If you or a loved one is injured during a storm or hurricane, contact Rhett Hoestenbach at 512-472-8865 or email [email protected]

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Board Certified - Texas Board of Legal Specialization | Personal Injury Trial Law - Rhett Hoestenbach