September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, a time to think about “what’s the worst that can happen?” and to prepare for it.
Disasters happen more often than you think. Gov. Greg Abbott has issued four disaster declarations in 2016, each of which was at least partially related to massive flooding. Many of the disasters have had a heavy impact on the Brazos River basin.
After years of drought conditions that parched the state and greatly increased the risk of wildfires, the past two years have brought an over-abundance of rain to the Brazos basin. Severe weather conditions are always a threat that people should be aware of and prepared for. To avoid being caught off guard, you must first be prepared, then monitor local weather reports and be sure to pass that information along to others who either do not or cannot monitor the news and weather.
The best time to prepare for a disaster is well before problems strike. The theme for this year’s Natural Disaster Preparedness Month is “Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.”
W. Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, said it’s important to plan ahead and share that plan with those you care about.
“I encourage everyone to develop an emergency plan for communicating with family and friends and know where you and loved ones will go if an evacuation is necessary,” he said. “Learn how to assemble a disaster supply kit of important emergency supplies including a first aid kit, a (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) Weather Radio or battery-operated radio, flashlight, medication, non-perishable food items and bottled water. I invite you to take this time to promote awareness, preparedness and mitigation to help prevent and reduce loss of life and property.”
While disaster preparation is important anywhere, Gov. Abbott notes that it is especially important in Texas.
“Texas has more natural disasters than any other state,” he said. “This year alone, Texas has endured four major disasters and could equal or surpass the 1979 record, when five major disasters occurred in a single year. Particularly disturbing is the tragic loss of life that is so often associated with disasters.
“Destructive events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, droughts, pandemics, acts of terrorism and cyberattacks can occur with little if any warning. In each of these circumstances, preparedness is the key to being ready to face threats and reduce the loss of life and property.”
The governor urged people to develop a disaster plan that includes a communication strategy or plan to help you get in touch with your loved one’s should an emergency occur as well as emergency meeting locations
“Everyone should build a three-day disaster preparedness kit for their homes and vehicles,” Abbott said. “These kits should contain supplies of food, water, medicine and important documents along with other essential items. Special preparedness considerations and steps should be taken for young children, seniors, those with access and functional needs, those with medical devices and family pets.”
Basic emergency kits, based on Texas Department of Public Safety guidelines, should include the following items:
- A three-day supply of bottled water (four quarts per day) for family members and others you are responsible for. Additional water will be needed for pets.
- A three-day supply of food (non-perishable items such as canned goods, as well as packaged items such as dried fruits, nuts, crackers, etc. Also, a supply of pet food, if needed.
- A can opener, pocket knife, eating utensils, cups, plates and bowls.
- A first aid kit and at least a 30-day supply of prescription drugs and extra glasses, contacts and contact solution.
- A whistle to signal for help.
- Dust masks.
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to secure shelters.
- A battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
- Tools, tape, plastic sheeting, signal flares and matches in a waterproof container.
- A fire extinguisher.
- Sanitation products such as moist towelettes, toilet paper, paper towels, soap, detergent, bleach and disinfectant.
- Clothes and bedding for each family member.
- Special items for babies, the elderly, disabled persons or others with special needs.
- Cash or traveler’s checks.
- Important documents to be kept in waterproof containers such as insurance policies, deeds, titles, stocks, birth certificates, passports, wills, immunization records, etc.
- If you have a pet, in addition to food, include a pet carrier or cage and leash.
- Garbage bags and plastic ties.
- Local maps.
- Emergency reference material, such as a first-aid book.
- A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Additional bedding if the weather is cold.
- Paper and pencil or pen.
- A complete change of clothing, including sturdy shoes.
- Games, puzzles and books for children.
Emergency kits should be stored in a safe, secure place. They should be portable in case you need to “grab and go.” Storing these items in one or two containers will make it easier to access and carry them. Always keep your emergency kit or kits in a designated area and make sure all family members are aware of the location.
Items in the kit should be refreshed/replaced periodically, including nonperishable food items. You should review your kit or kits every six months to make sure everything is in good shape and up to date.
More detailed information about emergency kits is available at https://www.ready.gov/kit.