In February 2021, a winter storm swept through Texas, resulting in federal action declaring the state a disaster zone. Residents experienced extended power and water outages, homeowners faced water damage from burst pipes, and some found their food supply running low. Because severe winter weather is rare in Texas, few were ready to handle the storm.
Now, the Better Business Bureau is making sure Texans stay prepared for the future. Ready is a federal campaign, partnered with the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are making sure Americans know how to respond to emergencies, including natural disasters. Katie Galan with the BBB has some tips to follow as folks get prepared.
Galan says, "The campaign suggests creating a family emergency plan, building a supply kit and taking action to help your community stay prepared."
She says, it's important to always plan ahead. Take time to create a disaster plan with your family and ask important questions to assess your preparedness. How will you receive emergency alerts? Where will you shelter? Do you have an evacuation route planned? Is your disaster kit stocked?
According to Galan now is the time to build a prepare kit, "Having plenty of supplies can help you better navigate an emergency situation. A disaster kit should include a three-day supply of drinking water, which is one gallon per family member per day, non-perishable food, flashlights and batteries, medications and any important documents. Keep these items in a sealed container that can protect them from water or fire."
In the extreme cold, Texans searched for ways to stay warm without power. Unfortunately, many suffered carbon monoxide poisoning after running their cars in a closed garage. Remember, if you decide to use your car for heat, do so in an open area. You should also take time to learn the signs of hypothermia and its basic treatments, such as warming the center of your body first.
Do your research. If you are anticipating severe weather, gather information to save valuable time during or after the disaster. You will want to locate your home’s main water shut off valve in case you need to cut off water after a pipe bursts.
Finally Galan says it's best to , "Reach out to your insurance agent to review what your policy covers if your home is damaged during the storm and visit BBB.org to create a list of trustworthy plumbers, contractors and tree services near you. Knowing who to call ahead of time can help the recovery process run smoothly."
For more information on disaster preparedness, visit Ready.gov. You can find trustworthy professionals at BBB.org.