Natural Disaster Preparation

Austin is occasionally hit with severe thunderstorms that can create ideal conditions for tornadoes and flooding. While you can’t stop Mother Nature, it’s important to develop a plan to keep you and your family safe in the event that a natural disaster hits your neighborhood.

Regardless of the disaster you’re preparing for, you’ll want to make sure your Austin home is equipped with emergency supplies in the event that the power goes out or you’re forced to remain inside. Safety experts suggest that your emergency supplies include the following:

  • First aid kit (with cleaning agents, sterile bandages, etc.)
  • A week’s supply of water (about 5 gallons per person)
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Hand-powered can opener
  • Two flashlights
  • Batteries (AA, AAA, C, D)
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Battery-powered radio or television

If the National Weather Service indicates that an emergency is possible (e.g. a tornado watch or flood watch is issued), double-check your emergency supplies and make sure everything is working properly. Outfit your flashlights with fresh batteries, check expiration dates for food and turn on your radio or television for updates on the situation.

Tornado warning
Thankfully, tornadoes in Austin are a rare occurrence; however, the Capital of Texas falls within the Tornado Alley region of the United States, so knowing how to survive one is nevertheless important.

If a tornado warning has been declared in your area, the safest place to go is your home’s basement. Basements provide ideal shelter during tornadoes, as they’re usually below ground and devoid of windows. If your home doesn’t have a basement, take shelter in a room or hallway near the center of your home. This space should have no windows and should be on the ground floor of your home. Use a blanket or mattress to cover yourself in case of falling debris.

Once the tornado has passed, ensure your family hasn’t been injured and inspect your home for any damage. If your home’s been severely damaged, turn off your electricity and natural gas, as your home could be at risk of an electrical fire or an explosion.

Flash flooding
As Austin is currently experiencing drought conditions, flooding may be the last thing on your mind. However, Central Texas is prone to flooding, and it’s important to be prepared for dealing with such an event.

If the National Weather Service issues a flood watch, make sure your car is filled with gas and your emergency supplies are freshly stocked. You may also need to gather important documents you’re storing in your home, such as insurance documentation and social security cards. Most importantly, turn on your radio or television for updates on the situation. Floods can produce dangerous road conditions, so be sure to check local news reports before driving your car.

Floods can become so severe that authorities will issue an evacuation order. If an evacuation is ordered in your area, gather your essential belongings and turn off your gas and electricity. If you cannot turn off your utilities, disconnect as many electrical appliances as you can. Once you’ve left your home, be sure to exercise caution as you follow the designated evacuation routes provided by local police.

Thunderstorms can be hazardous, but with the right amount of preparation, you can help keep your family safe in case things take a turn for the worse. For more weather safety tips, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for natural disaster preparation.

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