A storm is coming, folks. This is not a drill. The National Hurricane Center has recently upgraded Harvey after it reformed and strengthened itself in the Gulf Mexico. Furthermore, it is now expected to bring heavy rainfall and potential flooding across the Texas coast and Louisiana with affected areas seeing as much as 10-15 inches of rainfall. At worst, Storm Harvey may also evolve into a Category 3 or 4 hurricane before it hits land this Friday. It’d be the first time since 2008 that a hurricane will make its landfall in the Texas shoreline.
While there’s still time prepare, check out these safety tips to get yourself ready for rising water:
Prepare in advance
- Keep tabs on what’s going on around the community; know where the closest evacuation areas are and take note of local emergency response hotlines.
- Watch out for periodic weather updates and keep your communication lines open.
- Assemble an emergency preparedness kit (first aid, radio, blanket, water, food, cash, flash light and batteries, etc.) and construct an emergency evacuation plan.
- Know the difference between a flood watch and a flood warning: a watch means flooding is possible, while a warning means flooding is already happening or will occur soon.
Stay safe during the flood
- Don’t walk, swim, or drive through floodwater. Take note, just six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet is strong enough to float a car.
- If ever you get stuck on the road during the surge or with rapidly rising waters, get out of the car and quickly move to higher ground for safety.
- Avoid flood-prone areas as well as those which are close to riverbanks and shorelines.
- If flash flooding is possible, prepare to evacuate or move to higher ground upon short notice. Listen to your local radio, and/or television stations for information and monitor alert notifications.
- If you’re in the building, avoid basements and lower floors. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, avoid rooftops as well since you’ll be exposed to the rain and flying debris.
Protect yourself even after the flood
- If your home or establishment has been devastated by flood, do not enter unless the local authorities have deemed it safe to do so. Stay out of any building surrounded by floodwaters.
- Watch out for dangerous debris (e.g., broken glass, metal fragments), dead animals, or venomous snakes if you need to walk through floodwaters.
- Also, before doing so, grab a stick or anything that will help you navigate safely. Be mindful of underground or downed power lines since it can electrically charge the water.
- Shut off utilities in a flooded home or building.
- Be cautious when cleaning up after flooding to avoid contamination and post-disaster hazards. If your location is within the Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), where flood damage can be significantly higher, keep these additional pointers in mind.
At times like this, look out for advisories and additional safety guidelines from your local authorities as well before and during the storm. Meanwhile, for long-term preparedness and safety, brush up on training such as our Texas flood insurance package for your property and location. If your establishment is at risk, it’s never too late to take the OSHA 10 and 30 hour for general industry so that the workforce will be armed with the sufficient knowledge and training against common workplace hazards, including those which are brought by natural disasters like storm and flooding.