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Hurricane Preparedness

According to FEMA, Harris County and the City of Houston rank among the nation’s most disaster-prone areas. Since 1964, Harris County has declared 27 disasters; eight hurricanes, eight floods, six severe storms, three fires and one tornado. We have experienced so many natural disasters, we are listed among the top two percent of calamity-struck areas in the U.S. And these numbers don’t account for all of the devastating weather events that occurred before FEMA began keeping records in ’64.

Because of our history with disasters, Universal thought it would be a good idea to highlight some essential safety tips during National Preparedness Month. Sponsored by FEMA, this month of awareness aims to educate the U.S. on effective forms of safety measures for a variety of emergencies – including natural disasters. We’ve collected tips from FEMA and local safety authorities on how to best prepare for hurricane and flood activity.

Basic Tips:

Evacuation Route – Know the local hurricane evacuation routes in your area. Contact the Houston Office of Emergency Management for details.

Create a Supply Kit – Put together a kit of essentials in advance and keep it in storage. Include first aid, a flashlight, cash and food and water for at least three days.

Basic Disaster Supplies Kit

Stock Supplies – In case you find yourself at home and without power, make sure that you have supplies to keep you and your family comfortable for several days. Bottled water, canned goods, flashlights, batteries, matches and candles are all essential disaster supplies.

Make an Emergency Communication Plan –Choose a friend or family member out of town who can be reached by a landline. This “point person” should be contacted in case the family is split up for any reason and cell reception has been compromised.

Alert System – Set up an emergency alert system through text message such as the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAW).

Home Preparation:

Reinforce Windows/Doors – There are several ways that you can protect your home from the damaging winds and projectile debris that can destroy windows and doors – and any area of your home that be compromised by wind. It’s best to retrofit your home with proven options like shutters and high-impact glass (which can also help reduce insurance rates), but plywood and boards are effective as well. Here are several tips for keeping your Houston home safe.

Protecting Doors and Windows

Trim Trees and Clean Yard Debris – Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall. Trim your trees and make sure that dead branches and tree debris has been removed before the winds begin to sweep through. Also secure or remove any patio furniture or lawn ornaments the wind might disturb.

Secure and Clean Rain Gutters – If you have a loose rain gutter, fix it before the winds damage it beyond repair. Clean out the gutter as well so that heavy rain will have a place to collect and drain without damaging overflow.

Install a Generator – Many people in the Houston area already have some form of generator to ensure they have continuous power during a blackout. If you don’t own one, consider installing a while-house generator to keep your family safe and secure through the next power outage.

Generator Installation

Build a Safe Room – A safe room is one of the best solutions to keep your family safe during a hurricane or tornado. FEMA has come up with a set of guidelines that can help in the construction.

FEMA Safe Room Guidelines

The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1 and ends on November 30. The months when they are most frequent on the Texas coast are August and September (though this year we’ve been spared so far). Early predictions were forecasting a robust weather cycle, but fortunately, it has yet to materialize. It’s still good practice to prepare in advance for hurricanes and hurricane-fueled storms.

Remember that Universal is here to help you through any emergency with your electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems. Call us at (713) 364-0226 whenever you need assistance with your home services. We hope that you have a safe (and uneventful) hurricane season!

Ready.gov Hurricane Information