When disaster strikes, do you know what you need to do to keep you and your loved ones safe?
September is National Preparedness Month, which promotes planning for emergencies and disasters at both the community and family levels. The month-long focus is the result of a collaboration between the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Here are eight steps you can take to ensure you and your family are prepared.
Make sure your essentials are ready to go
Having a go-kit ready will ensure your family has the things necessary to recover after a disaster. Some things to include in your family’s go-kit are:
- Important documents
- Change of clothes
- Non-perishable snacks
- Medicine (for you and your pets, if you have them)
- Pet food and proof of vaccinations (if you have them)
- A kennel for your pet (many shelters require your pet be in a kennel)
- A radio
- Pillow/sleeping bag
- Bottled water (one gallon per person, per day)
- Credit cards/cash
- Extra batteries
- Power banks (for charging phones)
Confirm all of your insurance is up to date
Make sure that any insurance you have for your home or vehicle is up to date and a copy of your coverage is stored in a safe location. Take pictures of your property, and keep an inventory of the value of your items – it makes it easier to file an insurance claim later.
Most insurance policies don’t cover flood damage. Texas has experienced several major storm events in the past and is projected to see more in the coming years. Flood insurance takes 30 days to go into effect after purchase, so be sure to purchase a policy soon if you haven’t already.
Use the ISWMM tool to track ponding in your area
In the event of severe weather, residents can use the Integrated Stormwater Management Model, better known as ISWMM, to track the level of ponding and flooding in their area. Residents will be able to access real-time ponding information, as well as have the ability to receive notifications about ponding, street flooding, and potential street closures.
Be sure to follow the authoritative sources
Agencies like the National Weather Service (Houston/Galveston) are some of the best to follow during severe weather, so be sure follow them on their platforms.
Develop a communication plan
Do you know how you would get in contact with your elderly parents? How about your kids? Having a solid communication plan could be the difference between certainty that everyone is safe and the anxiety of not knowing. A solid communication plan can include:
- A group chat, through SMS messaging, where people can check in once in a safe place
- Locations where everyone can meet depending on the type of situation like
- Indoor: in case of tornadoes and hurricanes
- In your neighborhood: in case of a fire or an emergency where you must leave your home
- Outside of your neighborhood: in case you are not able to meet at your home or near your neighborhood
- Outside of your town or city: in case a disaster happens where you are not with loved ones and you are not allowed back inside of the area
- Copies of emergency contact numbers that can be printed and easily accessible in a wallet, purse, or backpack.
- A list of emergency contact information for all household members
- A list of the cell phone numbers of all household members
Sign up for emergency notifications
Sugar Land residents can subscribe to an alert system to receive notifications in emergency situations. Residents can receive notifications through email, text or phone call, depending on the subscriber’s preferences. The alert system is also used to deliver vital information such as anticipated water or sewer interruptions, city service changes and scheduled road closures and power outages.
Sugar Land Emergency Services will release an emergency preparedness handbook with various preparedness tips and tricks for residents. All of the information will be Sugar Land specific and available both online and as a hard copy. Residents may also reach out to 311 with specific questions.
Familiarize yourself with iSTAT
The Individual State of Texas Assessment Tool (iSTAT) helps the city and state identify damages to private homes and businesses and to assist emergency management officials assess the damages that occurred. This data will determine if the state of Texas and local communities meet federal thresholds for disaster assistance. The iSTAT can be completed online (by computer or mobile device) or on the Survey123 application (iOS and Android).
Register for the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry
The State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR) is a free and voluntary registry for Texans of any age that needs additional assistance during an emergency event due to a disability, functional and/or access need, or lack of transportation for evacuation. Information provided is shared with emergency planners and responders to help ensure that City of Sugar Land residents with disabilities and access and functional needs have the services they need in an emergency. This information is never sold, and remains confidential.
Register online: https://stear.tdem.texas.gov or dial 2-1-1 or use your video phone relay option of choice.
For more information on how you can participate in National Preparedness Month, go to ready.gov/September.