The Atlantic hurricane season is officially underway. While Central Texas isn’t on the coast, there is still a level of concern. Austin Community College District (ACC) offers an Emergency Management program where students learn how to monitor, respond, and debrief during events like a hurricane. Our faculty shares precautions you can and should take.
Written by: James Daniels, ACC Emergency Management
When it comes to hurricane preparedness, our situation here in Central Texas and our own areas of responsibility are a little different than those who live on the coast. We’re outside of the immediate threat zone, and being outside the zone means that we're highly unlikely to face hurricane-force winds or storm surges. Nevertheless, there are concerns that we must take into account. The remains of a hurricane proceeding through Central Texas can still bring high winds, large amounts of rain, and can spawn tornadoes. Here’s what you should know:
1) Turn around, don't drown! It only takes a few inches of water flowing over a bridge or roadway to lift up your car. If you see water from a creek or river moving over the roadway, don't try it. Find another route.
2) Flooding can overwhelm water purification systems resulting in boil water notices. Having a couple of packages of bottled water or a few gallon jugs on hand can greatly reduce the inconvenience of dealing with a boil-water notice.
3) Although less common than boil-water notices, flooding can also result in a complete loss of the water supply. When weather threatens, it's a good idea to fill bathtubs with water. While this water can be boiled for drinking if necessary, a more likely use is that it can be used to fill the toilet tank to allow for flushing.
4) Know if you're in a flood zone, and be prepared to evacuate if you are. You can plug your home or business address into the FEMA Flood Map site to see your threat level. If you find you're in a flood zone, make sure your flood insurance is up to date.
5) If you are in a situation where an evacuation may be necessary, ensure that all vital medicines and vital records, like your insurance policies, wedding, and birth certificates, etc. are together in an easy-to-grab "go bag.".
6) If you have pets, ask your vet about pet tranquilizers and keep some near or attached to the kennel you will be using to transport your pet. Evacuations can be very stressful for pets; you don't want your "furbaby" to become destructive or run away in a panic during the middle of an evacuation.
1) I don't recommend the use of candles because of the fire hazard they present, but I do recommend purchasing LED camping lanterns. They provide much more light than candles, without posing a fire hazard. They do require batteries, and I recommend checking batteries at the beginning of hurricane season to ensure that they are still good.
2) People who have generators, check on them before the beginning of hurricane season and ensure that they've been properly prepared. Know how to operate them and how to connect them properly to their home's electrical system. Gasoline-powered generators should never be operated within the home or any other confined space due to the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.
3) A simple gas camp stove (only operated outside, never inside!) is an excellent option both for cooking and for heating baby formula.
4) Stock up on food that can be eaten without heating or prepared with nothing more than the can or boiling water from the camp stove.
5) Make sure you have a working battery-powered radio.
1) Make sure that anything in your yard or on your porch that can be carried off by the wind is either tied down or stored inside the house/garage. Many injuries and wind damages are caused not by the wind directly, but rather by debris.
2) If you live in a mobile home and there is a possibility of a tornado, find someplace else to shelter. In a non-mobile home, seek refuge in the innermost part of the home, someplace without windows.
Texas ranks No. 3 in emergency management employment jobs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The COVID-19 pandemic has put an emphasis on the need for training for skills and knowledge to reduce the loss of property and life.
Through hands-on training at ACC’s Public Safety Training Center at Hays Campus, students prepare for a career in emergency management. They design and implement an emergency plan, develop effective oral and written skills, and practice skills that could make a difference in a time of need. Registration is now open. For more information, visit austincc.edu/emergencymanagement.