Preparing for Severe Weather
Extreme weather and storms can sometimes happen without warning. Here are tips to help you and your loved ones be ready and stay safe.
You can also follow us on Facebook for storm updates as they develop
Hurricanes & Tornadoes
- Keep an eye out for alerts in your area so you can tailor your plans as the situation unfolds. Turn on emergency alerts on your smartphone.
- You can quickly monitor conditions through the Weather Channel or the National Weather Service, which offer apps and regular updates through their social media channels.
- For the latest on power outages, turn to your Transmission and Distribution Utility (TDU), the entity responsible for restoring power. You can also sign up for your TDU's outage notifications.
- Radio is a great way to get information as it's shared, along with FEMA's app and text message program offers shelter information and additional safety tips.
- During emergencies, SMS messages are more likely to make it through mobile networks, so it can be beneficial to sign up for SMS updates from newsrooms that offer the service, like the Texas Tribune and outlets in your area that offer the service.
- When a hurricane or tornado warning is issued, it's critical to seek safe shelter immediately. Preparing beforehand not only saves precious time but makes it easier to navigate the aftermath of an event.
- In case you can’t evacuate, identify the best place to seek shelter. In the case of a tornado, ideally the lowest level, in a small area without windows or external walls, like a bathroom or closet. Also try to choose an area that's not underneath anything particularly heavy, like a piano or refrigerator.
- Prep the basics ahead of time: draft plans – both for staying put and evacuating, gather supplies and compile emergency contacts. Then, you can adjust more easily as the situation evolves.
- Know your evacuation routes and monitor alerts so you can evacuate immediately if your area issues an order. The earlier you leave, the better as roads can get backed up as people leave and it's best to avoid driving in severe weather.
- Consider where you'll go, including friends and family, hotels and rentals, and FEMA shelters.
- Fill your car's gas tank and prep a go-bag of supplies, toiletries, and extra clothes, as well as any additional items you might need if you don't evacuate, and the power goes out.
- Keep basic supplies at home in the room you plan to hunker down in, including first aid items, flashlights, a battery-powered radio for outage announcements, batteries in various sizes and a phone charger.
- Digitize important documents or keep them in a waterproof container and move valuables higher up. If you evacuate, take them with you.
- Clear your yard of items that could cause damage, like bikes and propane tanks, and cover windows to keep your family safe from shattered glass.
- Get a carbon monoxide (CO) detector and know how to turn off your power, gas, and water in case you have to leave or are told it's no longer safe to use.
- Consider purchasing flood insurance and other policies, like car or renters insurance that can cover damage to belongings that are damaged. Keep in mind that these typically take up to 30 days to go into effect.
- It can also be helpful to keep water and non-perishable food on hand, so people and pets are comfortable if the severe weather lasts for a while.
- Monitor updates and if you're home, shelter in a sturdy area without windows or external walls, like a bathroom or closet.
- Stay inside, away from windows, until authorities issue an alert saying the hurricane is over, even if it looks calm – it could be the middle of the storm.
- As soon as you get a tornado warning or suspect tornado activity, grab the protective coverings, and seek shelter.
- If the power goes out, limit how often you open the fridge and freezer doors to keep cold items safe as long as possible.
- Preserve your phone battery by switching to power save mode and if possible, keep a backup power source, like an external battery, charged. Once the storm's passed you can recharge it through your laptop or car, unless it's in the garage and you can't manually open the garage door to let out carbon monoxide.
- If you get stuck in a building due to hurricane flooding, get to the highest level but do not climb into a closed attic – rising floodwaters can quickly trap you inside.
- Flash flooding is the top cause of weather-related deaths in Texas so “Turn Around, Don't Drown.” Never go through still or moving floodwaters, on your own or in a car – no matter the type. As little as six inches of fast-moving water can cause you to lose control, even with four-wheel drive.
- Check for damage and avoid downed trees, as well as power lines and any puddles with wires as they could still be carrying electricity, which is dangerous to be near or touch with anything.
- For clean-up, wear protective clothing, like gloves, and a face mask to keep you safe from debris and mold.
- Again, do not go into any floodwater, even if it seems still and is after the initial storm. There can be debris and contaminants you can't see, along with other dangers.
- Don't use matches or lighters as there could be natural gas pipe leaks or fuel tanks nearby. Also, stay away from power lines and any puddles with wires as they could still be carrying electricity, which is dangerous to be near or touch with anything.
- If power goes out and you have to drive, treat all intersections without lights as four-way stops and keep electronics unplugged for at least 15 minutes after power's restored to avoid damage.
- Unless there's an emergency, don't call 911. Instead, call 211 for information and resources, or sources listed in the “Updates” section above. There might be difficulties with cell data that can make SMS messages via text as they're more likely to go through.