How to Stay Prepared
- Did you know Texas is the nation's leader in the variety and frequency of natural disasters? Flooding, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, hail storms, sinkholes, erosion, and drought all occur in the state. Locally, we routinely experience flooding and wildfires in Central Texas and specifically in Williamson County.
- Did you know that floods are the most common and widespread of all weather-related natural disasters? Flash floods are the most dangerous kind of floods because they combine the destructive power of a flood with incredible speed. Flash floods occur when heavy rainfall exceeds the ability of the ground to absorb it. They also occur when water fills normally dry creeks or streams or enough water accumulates for streams to overtop their banks, causing rapid rises of water in a short amount of time. They can happen within minutes of the causative rainfall, limiting the time available to warn and protect the public. In the U.S. floods kill more people each year than tornadoes, hurricanes, or lightning.
- Did you know that as many as 90% of wildland fires in the United States are caused by people, according to the U.S. Department of Interior? Some human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, downed power lines, negligently discarded cigarettes, and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 10% are caused by lightning strikes and wildfires can spread as fast as 6 mph.
- Are you ready? Do you or your family have a plan? View resources to protect yourself, your family, and your home.
How to Receive Federal & State Alerts
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How to Receive Local Alerts
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Make a plan now for you, your family, and your pets. Disaster can strike at any time and you need to be prepared in advance before that happens. Do you have a shelter plan? An evacuation route? What about your pets? And how will you communicate with your loved ones?
Put a plan together by discussing the questions below with your family, friends, or household to start your emergency plan.
- How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
- What is my shelter plan?
- What is my evacuation route?
- What is my family/household communication plan?
- Do I need to update my emergency preparedness kit to sustain myself and my family for seven days?
- Check with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and update my emergency plans due to Coronavirus.
- Get masks (for everyone over 2 years old), and disinfectants, and check my sheltering plan.
Consider specific needs in your household. As you prepare your plan, tailor your plans and supplies to your specific daily living needs and responsibilities. Discuss your needs and responsibilities and how people in the network can assist each other with communication, care of children, business, pets, or specific needs like operating medical equipment. Create your own personal network for specific areas where you need assistance. Keep in mind some of these factors when developing your plan:
- Different ages of members within your household
- Responsibilities for assisting others
- Locations frequented
- Dietary needs
- Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment
- Disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment
- Languages spoken
- Cultural and religious considerations
- Pets or service animals
- Households with school-aged children
Download and fill out a family emergency plan or use it as a guide to creating your own. View the Family Emergency Communication Plan on Ready.gov.
Create Your Family Emergency Communication Plan
Family Communication Plan Fillable Card
Know Your Alerts & Warnings
12 Ways to Prepare
Document & Insure Your Property
- Document and Insure Your Property - English (PDF)
- Document and Insure Your Property - Additional Languages
Safeguard Critical Documents & Valuables
After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water, and other supplies to last for at least 7 days. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.
Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with the items. Download a printable version of the Emergency Supply Check List (PDF) to take with you to the store. Once you take a look at the basic items consider what unique needs your family might have, such as supplies for pets or seniors.
Basic Disaster Supplies Kit
To assemble your kit store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.
A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
- Water (one gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and sanitation)
- Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food)
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle (to signal for help)
- Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to shelter in place)
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)
- Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
- Manual can opener (for food)
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
Additional Emergency Supplies
Since the Spring of 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended people include additional items in their kits to help prevent the spread of coronavirus or other viruses and the flu.
Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:
- Masks (for everyone ages 2 and above), soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces
- Prescription medications: About half of all Americans take prescription medicine every day. An emergency can make it difficult for them to refill their prescription or to find an open pharmacy. Organize and protect your prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and vitamins to prepare for an emergency.
- Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids, or laxatives
- Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution
- Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Cash or traveler's checks
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels, and plastic utensils
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles, or other activities for children
Maintaining Your Kit
After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it's ready when needed:
- Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
- Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers.
- Replace expired items as needed.
- Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family's needs change.
Kit Storage Locations
Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work, and cars.
- Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
- Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water, and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a "grab and go" case.
- Car: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.
Your pets are important members of your family, so they need to be included in your family's emergency plan. To prepare for the unexpected follow these tips with your pets in mind:
- Make a plan.
- Build an emergency kit.
- Stay informed.
Make a Plan
If you have a plan in place for you and your pets, you will likely encounter less difficulty, stress, and worry when you need to make a decision during an emergency. If local officials ask you to evacuate, that means your pet should evacuate too. If you leave your pets behind, they may end up lost, injured, or worse.
Things to include in your plan:
- Have an evacuation plan for your pet. Many public shelters and hotels do not allow pets inside. Know a safe place where you can take your pets before disasters and emergencies happen.
- Develop a buddy system. Plan with neighbors, friends, or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so.
- Have your pet microchipped. Make sure to keep your address and phone number up-to-date and include contact information for emergency contact outside of your immediate area.
- Contact your local emergency management office, animal shelter, or animal control office to get additional advice and information if you're unsure how to care for your pet in case of an emergency.
Build a Kit for Your Pet
Just as you do with your family's emergency supply kit, think first about the basics for survival, such as food and water. Have two kits, one larger kit if you are sheltering in place and one lightweight version if you need to evacuate. Review your kits regularly to ensure that their contents, especially foods, and medicines, are fresh.
Here are some items you may want to include in an emergency kit for your pet:
- Food: Keep several days' supply of food in an airtight, waterproof container.
- Water: Store a water bowl and several days' supply of water.
- Medicine: Keep an extra supply of the medicine your pet takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container.
- First Aid Kit: Talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet's emergency medical needs.
- Collar with ID Tag and a Harness or Leash: Include a backup leash, collar, and ID tag. Have copies of your pet's registration information and other relevant documents in a waterproof container and available electronically.
- Traveling Bag, Crate, or Sturdy Carrier: ideally one for each pet.
- Grooming Items: Pet shampoo, conditioner, and other items, in case your pet needs some cleaning up.
- Sanitation Needs: Include pet litter and litter boxes (if appropriate), newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags, and household chlorine bleach to provide for your pet's sanitation needs.
- A Picture of You and Your Pet Together: If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet.
- Familiar Items: Put your favorite toys, treats, or bedding in your kit. Familiar items can help reduce stress for your pet.
Tips for Large Animals
If you have pets such as horses, goats, or pigs on your property, be sure to prepare before a disaster.
In addition to the tips above:
- Ensure all animals have some form of identification.
- Evacuate animals earlier, whenever possible. Map out primary and secondary routes in advance.
- Make available vehicles and trailers needed for transporting and supporting each type of animal. Also, make available experienced handlers and drivers.
- Ensure destinations have food, water, veterinary care, and handling equipment.
- If evacuation is not possible, animal owners must decide whether to move large animals to a barn or turn them loose outside.
Whether it's high winds, heavy snow, or ice, protect your small business from winter weather disasters with help from the SBA.
This time of year, many business owners are thinking about end-of-year reporting and marketing strategies for the winter holidays. It is also a crucial time to make sure you have a plan in place if severe winter weather strikes.
Snow, ice, and wind from extreme storms can lead to property damage, employee illness or injury, and possible business closures. An estimated 25% of businesses don't open again after a major disaster, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety. Avoid this fate by making sure you have the right protections in place.
Before Winter Weather Strikes
Start by identifying potential weather-related threats that are common in your region. For example, is your area prone to heavy snowfall? Will high winds hit your town? How about damage from ice?
Prepare your business for winter storms by:
- Checking your insurance coverage for protection against winter hazards. Make sure you are sufficiently covered in case your business sustains damage during a winter weather emergency.
- Sign up for real-time weather alerts. The FEMA App provides National Weather Service alerts, emergency safety tips for over 20 types of disasters, and locations for open emergency shelters and disaster recovery centers in your area.
- Establishing an emergency communication plan. Share employee, client, and vendor contact information before a storm strikes and identify critical staff.
- Developing a post-storm snow-removal plan. Reduce risk for employees and customers by properly treating and removing snow and ice.
Check out this comprehensive list of strategies for navigating winter weather emergencies at your small business.
Steps After a Weather Disaster Strikes
If the worst happens and your business sustains damage from a winter weather disaster, there are resources to help you get your business back up and running:
- FEMA provides emergency financial assistance for individuals for housing, food, clothing, and medicine.
- The SBA also provides low-interest loans to repair or replace disaster-damaged property after a disaster has been declared by the President or SBA Administrator.
- For more information, check out the Prepare for Emergencies List of disaster assistance loans and disaster aid options.
The SBA is here for you every step of the way before and after winter weather disasters. For further guidance on preparing for a weather emergency, we encourage you to visit Ready.gov.
Don't wait until disaster strikes - prepare today.