Hunker Down

10 Tips for Surviving a Hurricane in Houston

Don't worry—you probably won't die.

By Jeff Balke July 18, 2017 Published in the August 2017 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Hurricane ike off the lesser antilles nuzww7

Hurricane Ike off the Lesser Antilles

New to town? You might be worried about hurricanes. First, it’s okay. You’re almost certainly not going to die. Second, it isn’t tough to get prepared. Follow our tips and you’ll be fine.

1. Know your flood situation.

There is an old adage: Hide from wind, run from water. Deaths during hurricanes are most often the result of drowning. So, check local flood maps for where you live and stay informed on how susceptible you are to flooding, particularly if you’re right on the water and run the risk of being caught in a deadly storm surge.

2. Keep your trees trimmed.

This is an often-overlooked way to protect your property, and your person, during a storm. Pruning your trees will keep them from falling over when a storm hits, and lessen the chance of flying debris.

3. Keep pre-cut plywood for your windows and install plylox.

If you’re worried about damage to windows from wind, take their measurements and head to a home-improvement store, where you can have protective plywood pre-cut to size. Then install Plylox window clips, which will make it easy to put up and take down the barriers.

4. Consider a generator.

Backup generators have come down quite a bit in price. Your power may be out for hours or even days after a storm, and these little guys can keep your fridge and a few other critical things running. Just remember to keep your generator outdoors to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, and otherwise follow instructions.

Jun2001ts allisondowntowntunnelsystem2 mcyuot

The downtown tunnels flooded during Tropical Storm Allison.

5. Keep track of the weather.

Houstonians love to discuss the weather. Between July and September, that conversation turns to the tropics. Get a good weather app and read local weather news and blogs. Stay ahead of things.

6. Come June 1, pick up a few supplies.

The official start of hurricane season is a good time to stock up on items like jugs of water, extra batteries and cans of gas, so that, if it looks like Houston’s going to be hit, you don’t find yourself scrambling right before it makes landfall. Having some extra prescription medication doesn’t hurt, either.

7. Have an evacuation plan.

Prepare a list of items you’ll need, and consider your escape route. If you live near multiple major freeways and side streets, map out a plan that avoids the busiest areas.

8. Include your pets in your plans.

There are always tragic stories of pets left behind, lost and worse during evacuations and storms. Prepare for the possibility that they may need to leave with you. Have plenty of food, water and carriers for your furry friends. 

9. Don’t panic.

The key is to stay calm. Pay attention and act accordingly. You’ll do great.

10. Don’t forget alcohol.

Take that trip to Spec’s. If you’re riding out the storm, you and your neighbors will be glad you did.

Jun2001ts allisondowntownuh whiteoakbuffalo uc0otb

If the city looks like it did here after Tropical Storm Allison, you're going to need a drink.

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