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Prep smart: Your guide to hurricane season

Written By: Vicki Powers, UT Physicians | Updated: June 10, 2024
Woman preparing emergency bag at home

Staying prepared during hurricane season is vital for all Gulf Coast residents.

Scott Patlovich, DrPH
Scott Patlovich, DrPH

As Texas Gulf Coast residents, the need for hurricane preparation can’t be overstated. Industry experts estimate a higher risk level of storms in 2024.

“Just because a more severe storm season is forecasted, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Houston will have a direct hit,” said Scott Patlovich, DrPH, assistant vice president of environmental health and safety at UTHealth Houston. “We shouldn’t panic, but we should absolutely get prepared now.”

Understanding risks

The history of hurricanes in Texas is a stark reminder of nature’s power. With predictions of an active season ahead, understanding the risks is crucial. This could mean more frequent and potentially more intense storms.

Bryan C. Evans, MBA
Bryan C. Evans, MBA

“Do not underestimate tropical storms. Harvey was a tropical storm when it hit Houston,” said Bryan C. Evans, MBA, risk manager with UTHealth Houston. “Tropical Storm Allison caused 41 deaths and flooded 70,000 homes.”

Hurricane preparation early

Evans said the best way to stay safe during hurricane season is to be prepared. Early hurricane preparation is vital as storms can form quickly, depleting local stores of essential supplies. Stocking up on water, food, and plywood, as well as having a personal and family emergency plan, are key steps.

What are some of those things that people might not think of?

“Always prepare for power outages, keep cash on hand, and consider buying a portable battery charger,” recommends Evans.

Patlovich emphasizes the importance of not waiting until the last minute to scramble for supplies. He also said to plan for the possibility of an extended event.

“Never underestimate the length of a storm and its lasting impacts,” Patlovich said. “Several days after Hurricane Harvey, it was hard to find basic necessities due to supply chain interruptions, such as gas and food.”

Building a hurricane kit

A hurricane kit should include:

  • Water for five to seven days
  • Nonperishable food items
  • First-aid supplies
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • External battery chargers
  • Medications in their original containers
  • Important documents (emergency information, family contacts)
  • Pet supplies
  • Baby formula

Prepping home and property

Protecting your home from a storm involves securing windows with plywood and checking the integrity of the roof and walls. This type of hurricane preparation is especially important for living on the Gulf Coast. Flood insurance is also a critical consideration for homeowners, but it doesn’t go into effect until 30 days after you buy it.

Planning your evacuation

Plan evacuation routes in advance, with special considerations for those requiring assistance. Print out any necessary maps and navigation to avoid relying on digital communication. The 2024 Hurricane Evacuation Map developed by the Houston-Galveston Area Council provides routes throughout our region.

“Make a plan of what you will do to protect your family and property if a storm is headed this way,” said Evans.

Staying informed

Keeping weather aware is essential. Resources for up-to-date information include local news, weather apps, and the National Hurricane Center.

Patlovich recommends to err on the side of caution to keep yourself and your family safe.

“It can’t be overemphasized enough,” Patlovich said. “If we have a flooding event, never enter a flooded roadway.”

Now it’s time to put this hurricane planning into action! Use the recommended resources, as needed.

Resources

Rice TMC Flood Alert System

Hurricane Preparedness and Evacuation Planning (Houston-Galveston Area Council)

Metro

Houston Transtar

National Weather Service

National Hurricane Center


As the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians has locations across the Greater Houston area to serve the community. To schedule an appointment, call 888-4UT-DOCS.