Tag Archives: emergency

Communication & Technology Preparedness

According to The American Red Cross, the Internet—including online news sites and social media platforms—is the third-most popular way for Americans to gather emergency information and let their loved ones know they are safe. Through the use of everyday technology, individuals, families, responders and organizations can successfully prepare for, adapt to and recover from disruptions brought on by emergencies and/or disasters. With effective planning, it is possible to take advantage of technology before, during and after a crisis to communicate with loved ones and manage your financial affairs.

Stay Connected

Keep your contacts updated across all of your channels, including phone, email and social media. This will make it easy to reach out to the right people quickly to get information and supply updates. Consider creating a group list of your top contacts.

  • Learn how to send updates via text and Internet from your mobile phone to your contacts and social channels in case voice communications are not available. Text messages and the Internet often work during a phone service disruption.
  • Keep extra batteries for your phone in a safe place, or purchase a solar-powered or hand crank charger. These chargers are good emergency tools to keep your laptop and other small electronics working in the event of a power outage. If you own a car, purchase a car phone charger so you can charge your phone if you lose power at your home.
  • In your cellphone, program some of your contacts as emergency contacts so that if you are unable to use your phone, emergency personnel can contact those people for you. Let your emergency contacts know that they are programmed into your phone, and inform them of any medical issues or other special needs you may have.
  • If you have a traditional landline (non-broadband or Voice over Internet Protocol) phone, keep at least one non-cordless receiver in your home because it will work even if you lose power.
  • If you are evacuated and have call forwarding on your home phone, forward your home phone number to your cellphone number.
  • If you do not have a cellphone, keep a prepaid phone card to use if needed during or after a disaster.
  • Prepare a family contact sheet. This should include at least one out-of-town contact who may be better able to reach family members in an emergency.
  • Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio or television available (with spare batteries).

The following are additional tips for making phone calls and using your smartphone during or after a disaster:

  • Keep all phone calls brief. If you need to use a phone, try to convey only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family.
  • If you are unsuccessful in completing a call using your cellphone, wait ten seconds before redialing to help reduce network congestion.
  • Conserve your cellphone battery by reducing the brightness of your screen, placing your phone in airplane mode and closing apps you are not using that draw power, unless you need to use the phone.
  • If you lose power, you can charge your cellphone in your car. Just be sure your car is in a well-ventilated place (that is, remove it from the garage) and do not go to your car until any danger has passed. You can also listen to your car radio for important news alerts.
  • If you do not have a hands-free device in your car, stop driving or pull over to the side of the road before making a call. Do not text on a cellphone, talk or “tweet” without a hands-free device while driving.
  • Immediately following a disaster, resist using your mobile device to stream videos, download music or videos or play video games, all of which can add to network congestion. Limiting use of these services can help potentially life-saving emergency calls get through to 911.
  • For non-emergency communications, use text messaging, email or social media instead of making voice calls on your cellphone to avoid tying up voice networks. Data-based services like texts and emails are less likely to experience network congestion. You can also use social media to post your status to let family and friends know you are okay. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, you can use resources such as the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well program.

Get Organized

Store your important documents such as personal and financial records in a password-protected area in the Cloud or on a secure flash or jump drive that you can keep readily available. This flash drive can be kept on a key ring so it can be accessed from any computer, anytime, anywhere. Remember important documents, such as:

  • Personal and property insurance
  • Identification such as driver’s license or passport (for family members, as well)
  • Banking information

Don’t forget your pets!

  • Store your pet’s veterinary medical records documents online.
  • Consider an information digital implant.
  • Keep a current photo of your pet in your online kit to aid in identification if you are separated.

Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance. Create an Emergency Information document or Family Communications plan to record how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in different situations.

  • Make sure to share this document with family members, friends and co-workers who will also need to access it in an emergency or crisis.
  • When handling personal and sensitive information, always keep your data private and share it only with those who will need access in case of emergency.

Sign up for direct deposit and electronic banking through your financial institution so you can access your payroll funds and make electronic payments regardless of location.

Emergency Resources

Include these sites in your Emergency Information document to ensure that you can quickly access them from any computer or smartphone.

  • Download the FEMA App to access disaster preparedness tips, build your personal emergency kit and look for open Disaster Recovery Centers along with open shelters (if you’re a disaster survivor). Also, stay informed with the FEMA blog.
  • Local emergency management officials often have notification systems. Opt in to a distribution for your community. To find out if your community offers such services, contact your local office of Emergency Management.
  • Signup to receive a monthly preparedness tip from FEMA’s text messages program.
  • Bookmark important mobile sites:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://m.cdc.gov
  • American Red Cross: www.redcross.org/mobile
  • FEMA/Ready: http://m.fema.gov
  • National Hurricane Center: www.nhc.noaa.gov/mobile

In addition to insuring your home, we are committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. If you would like more information on developing a family emergency plan or building a disaster supply kit, please contact Texas Associates Insurors at 512-328-7676 or http://www.txassoc.com today.

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Are You Prepared for an Emergency?

Disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes can strike with little or no warning. To ensure that you and your family are prepared, there’s no time like the present to create emergency kits: one to use if you need to evacuate your home and one if you get trapped in your home for several days. Get the entire family involved in creating these emergency kits so that your kids understand the importance of being prepared.

Evacuation Kits

To help you evacuate quickly, keep the following items in an emergency backpack so you can grab it and go:

  • A gallon of water per family member and nonperishable foods
  • Can opener, plastic cups and eating utensils
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Change of clothing for each family member
  • Contact information for your family and a relative or friend out of state
  • First aid kit
  • Personal identification cards for each family member
  • Personal hygiene items and hand sanitizer
  • Medications that are needed regularly

Homebound Kits

Just as important as an evacuation kit, homebound kits are filled with important items necessary when you cannot leave your home for several days due to a crisis. Place the following items in an area of your home to be ready for an emergency:

  • Three gallons of water per family member
  • Canned food for at least three days
  • Pet foods and supplies for three days
  • Toilet paper
  • Extra personal hygiene items
  • Unscented bleach
  • Blankets
  • Books, games and other forms of entertainment
  • Paper and pencils
  • Battery-operated radio and television
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
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Are You Prepared…for a Hurricane?

Hurricanes are capable of producing winds in excess of 155 miles per hour and causing catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland. Additionally, hurricanes can also lead to storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall.

All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes. The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the peak season from mid-August to late October.  While the past few years have been quiet for our region, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for a potential storm.

Before a Hurricane

To prepare for a hurricane, take the following measures:

  • Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan. Contact Texas Associates Insurors if you would like us to provide you with an emergency kit checklist or sample family communications plan.
  • Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone. This will help you know how your property will be affected when a storm surge or tidal flooding are forecasted.
  • Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you.
  • Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
  • Make plans to secure your property.
  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well-trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Reinforce your garage doors. If wind enters a garage, it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
  • Bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.
  • Install a generator for emergencies.
  • If in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
  • Consider building a safe room.

Hurricanes cause heavy rains that can cause extensive flood damage in coastal and inland areas. Everyone is at risk and should consider flood insurance protection. Flood insurance is the only way to financially protect your property or business from flood damage. To learn more about your flooding risk and how to protect yourself and your business, contact Texas Associates Insurors.

Know the Terms

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a hurricane hazard:

Tropical Cyclone: A warm-core, non-frontal, synoptic-scale cyclone, originating over tropical or subtropical waters, with organized deep convection and a closed surface wind circulation about a well-defined center. Once formed, a tropical cyclone is maintained by the extraction of heat energy from the ocean at high temperature and heat export at the low temperatures of the upper troposphere.

Tropical Depression: A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind speed (using the U.S. 1-minute average) is 38 mph (33 knots) or less.

Tropical Storm: A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind speed (using the U.S. 1-minute average) ranges from 39 mph (34 knots) to 73 mph (63 knots).

Hurricane: A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind (using the U.S. 1-minute average) is 74 mph (64 knots) or more.

Storm Surge: An abnormal rise in sea level accompanying a hurricane or other intense storm, and whose height is the difference between the observed level of the sea surface and the level that would have occurred in the absence of the cyclone. Storm surge is usually estimated by subtracting the normal or astronomic high tide from the observed storm tide. Storm surge can reach heights well over 20 feet and can span hundreds of miles of coastline.

Storm Tide: The actual level of seawater resulting from the astronomic tide combined with the storm surge.

Hurricane Warning: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of storm-force winds.

Hurricane Watch: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of storm-force winds.

Tropical Storm Warning: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected somewhere within the specified area within 36 hours.

Tropical Storm Watch: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified area within 48 hours.

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

Scale Number (Category)

Sustained Winds (MPH)

Damage

1

74-95

Very dangerous winds will produce some damage

  • Minor damage to exterior of homes
  • Toppled tree branches, uprooting of smaller trees
  • Extensive damage to power lines, power outages

2

96-110

Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage

  • Major damage to exterior of homes
  • Uprooting of small trees and many roads blocked
  • Guaranteed power outages for long periods of time–days to weeks

3

111-129

Devastating damage will occur

  • Extensive damage to exterior of homes
  • Many trees uprooted and many roads blocked
  • Extremely limited availability of water and electricity

4

130-156

Catastrophic damage will occur

  •  Loss of roof structure and/or some exterior walls
  •  Most trees uprooted and most power lines down
  •  Isolated residential due to debris pile up
  •  Power outages lasting for weeks to months

5

157+

Catastrophic damage will occur

  • A high percentage of homes will be destroyed
  • Fallen trees and power lines isolate residential areas
  • Power outages lasting for weeks to months
  • Most areas will be uninhabitable

For more information on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, visit the National Hurricane Center.

During a Hurricane

If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:

  • Listen to the radio or TV for information.
  • Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  • Moor your boat if time permits.
  • Keep a supply of water for sanitary purposes, such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
  • Find out how to keep food safe during and after an emergency.

You should evacuate under the following conditions:

  • If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure. These shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes, no matter how well-fastened to the ground.
  • If you live in a high-rise building. Hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
  • If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river or on an island waterway.

If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:

  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors, and secure and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm and winds will pick up again.
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
  • Avoid elevators.

After a Hurricane

  • Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
  • Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
  • If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS/1-800-733-2767 or visit the American Red Cross Safe and Well site: www.safeandwell.org.
  • The American Red Cross also maintains a database to help you find family. Contact the local American Red Cross chapter where you are staying for information. Do not contact the chapter in the disaster area.
  • If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
  • If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs, text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area. (example: shelter 12345).
  • For those who have longer-term housing needs, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers several types of assistance, including services and grants to help people repair their homes and find replacement housing. Apply for assistance or search for information about housing rental resources.
  • Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed¬out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects including downed electrical wires, weakened walls, bridges, roads and sidewalks.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
  • Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
  • Stay out of any building if you smell gas, and if floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
  • Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
  • Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles. Keep in mind that the flashlight should be turned on outside before entering, as the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
  • Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
  • Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.

In addition to insuring your home, we are committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. If you would like more information on developing a family emergency plan or building a disaster supply kit, please contact Texas Associates Insurors at 512-328-7676 or http://www.txassoc.com today.

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Are You Prepared…for Wildfires?

Many homeowners face the risk of wildfires, which are usually triggered by lightning or accidents. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees and homes. Some homes survive, but unfortunately, many others do not. Those that survive almost always do so because their owners had prepared for fire. Reduce your risk by preparing now to protect your family, home and property.

Preparing Your Home for a Wildfire

The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property in the event of a fire.

  • Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. Select materials and plants that can help contain fire rather than fuel it.
    • Use fire-resistant or noncombustible materials on the roof and exterior structure of your house, or treat wood or combustible material used in roofs, siding, decking or trim with fire-retardant chemicals evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
    • Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees. For example, hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees.
  • Regularly clean your roof and gutters; remove any debris that could catch fire.
  • Inspect your chimneys at least twice a year, and clean them at least once a year. Keep the dampers in good working order. Equip chimneys and stovepipes with a spark arrester that meets the requirements of National Fire Protection Association Standard 211. Contact your local fire department for exact specifications.
  • Install 1/8-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas and the home itself to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating. You should also cover openings to floors, roof and attic with mesh screens to prevent sparks and embers from entering your home.
  • Install a dual-sensor smoke alarm on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms; test it every month and change the batteries at least once each year.
  • Teach your family members how to use a fire extinguisher (ABC type), and show them where it’s kept.
  • Keep household items available that can be used as fire tools, such as rake, axe, handsaw or chain saw, bucket and shovel.
  • Keep a ladder that will reach the roof in case a family member ends up on the roof of a burning house.
  • Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
  • Move flammable items away from the house and outside of your defensible space, including woodpiles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc.

Plan Your Water Needs

  • Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source, such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool or hydrant.
  • Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
  • Install freeze-proof exterior water outlets on at least two sides of the home and near other structures on the property. Install additional outlets at least 50 feet from the home.
  • Consider obtaining a portable gasoline-powered pump in case electrical power is cut off.

It is recommended that you create a 30- to 100-foot safety zone around your home. Within this area, you can take steps to reduce potential exposure to flames and radiant heat. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. If your home sits on a steep slope, standard protective measures may not be enough. Contact your local fire department or forestry office for additional information.

  • Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs. Clear all flammable vegetation. Remove leaves and rubbish from under structures.
  • Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns, and remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground.
  • Remove dead branches that extend over the roof.
  • Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.
  • Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.
  • Remove vines from the walls of the home.
  • Mow grass regularly.
  • Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks and the barbecue. Place a screen over the grill, made of nonflammable material with mesh no coarser than 1/4 inch.
  • Regularly dispose of newspapers and rubbish at an approved site. Follow local burning regulations.
  • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket and soak them in water for two days, then bury the cold ashes in mineral soil.
  • Store gasoline, oily rags and other flammable materials in approved safety cans. Place the cans in a safe location away from the base of buildings.
  • Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home. Clear combustible material within 20 feet of a woodpile. Use only wood-burning devices evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Review your homeowner’s insurance policy and prepare or update a list of your home’s contents.

Follow Local Burning Laws

  • Before burning debris in a wooded area, make sure you notify local authorities and obtain a burning permit.
  • Use an approved incinerator with a safety lid or covering with holes no larger than 3/4 inch.
  • Create at least a 10-foot clearing around the incinerator before burning debris.
  • Have a fire extinguisher or garden hose on hand when burning debris.

Your best resource for proper planning is www.firewise.org, which has outstanding information used every day by residents, property owners, fire departments, community planners, builders, public policy officials, water authorities, architects and others to ensure safety from fire. Firewise workshops are offered for free across the nation in large and small communities. Free Firewise materials can be obtained by anyone interested.

During a Wildfire

If you are advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Take your disaster supply kit, lock your home and choose a route away from the fire hazard. Watch for changes in the speed and direction of the fire and smoke. Tell someone when you left and where you are going.

If you see a wildfire and haven’t received evacuation orders yet, call 911. Don’t assume that someone else has already called. Describe the location of the fire, speak slowly and clearly and answer any questions the dispatcher asks.

If you are not ordered to evacuate, and have time to prepare your home, FEMA recommends that you take the following actions:

  • Arrange temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area in case you need to evacuate.
  • Wear protective clothing when outside, such as sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothes, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and a handkerchief to protect your face.
  • Gather fire tools such as a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket and shovel.
  • Close outside attic, eaves and basement vents, windows, doors and other openings. Remove flammable drapes and curtains. Close all shutters, blinds or heavy non-combustible window coverings to reduce radiant heat.
  • Close all doors inside the house to prevent drafts. Open the damper on your fireplace, but close the fireplace screen.
  • Shut off any natural gas, propane or fuel oil supplies at the source.
  • Connect garden hoses to outdoor water faucets and fill any pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, tubs or other large containers with water.
  • Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near aboveground fuel tanks. Leave sprinklers on and dowse these structures as long as possible.
  • If you have gas-powered pumps for water, make sure they are fueled and ready.
  • Place a ladder in clear view against the house.
  • Disconnect any automatic garage door openers so that doors can still be opened by hand if the power goes out. Close all garage doors.
  • Place valuable papers, mementos and anything “you can’t live without” inside the car in the garage, ready for quick departure. Any pets still with you should also be put in the car.
  • Place valuables that will not be damaged by water in a pool or pond.
  • Move flammable furniture into the center of the home away from the windows and sliding glass doors.
  • Turn on outside lights and leave a light on in every room to make the house more visible in heavy smoke.

Surviving a Wildfire

Survival in a Vehicle

This is dangerous and should only be done in an emergency, but you can survive a fire if you stay in your car. It is much less dangerous than trying to run from a fire on foot.

  • Roll up the windows and close the air vents. Drive slowly with your headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
  • If you have to stop, park away from the heaviest trees and brush. Turn your headlights on and ignition off. Make sure your windows are rolled up and your air vents are closed.
  • Get on the floor and cover up with a blanket or coat.
  • Stay in the car until the main fire passes. Do not run!
  • Remember that your engine may stall and not restart, air currents may rock the car, some smoke and sparks may enter the vehicle and the temperature inside will increase. Keep in mind that metal gas tanks and containers rarely explode.

If You Are Trapped at Home

  • If you find yourself trapped inside your home, stay inside and away from outside walls. Close the doors, but leave them unlocked. Keep your entire family together and remain calm.

If Caught in the Open

  • The best temporary shelter is in a sparse area with few trees or other things that burn easily. On a steep mountainside, the back side is safer. Avoid canyons and natural “chimneys.”
  • If a road is nearby, lie face down along the road or in the ditch. Cover yourself with anything that will shield you from the fire’s heat.
  • If hiking in the backcountry, look for a depression in the ground with few trees or other fuel sources. Clear fuel away from the area while the fire is approaching and then lie face down in the depression and cover yourself. Stay down until after the fire passes.

After a Wildfire

The following are guidelines for what to do in the period following a fire.

  • Go to a designated public shelter if you have been told to evacuate or you feel it is unsafe to remain in your home. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
  • If you are with burn victims, or are a burn victim yourself, call 911 or seek help immediately. Cool and cover burns to reduce chance of further injury or infection.
  • If you remained at home, check the roof immediately after the fire danger has passed. Put out any roof fires, sparks or embers. Check the attic for hidden burning sparks.
  • For several hours after the fire, maintain a “fire watch.” Re-check for smoke and sparks throughout the house.
  • If you have evacuated, do not enter your home until fire officials say it is safe.
  • If a building inspector has placed a color-coded sign on your home, do not enter until you get more information about what the sign means and whether it is safe to enter your home.
  • If you must leave your home because a building inspector says the building is unsafe, ask someone you trust to watch the property during your absence.
  • Use caution when entering burned areas as hazards may still exist, including hot spots, which can flare up without warning.
  • If you detect heat or smoke when entering a damaged building, evacuate immediately.
  • If you have a safe or strongbox, do not try to open it. It can hold intense heat for several hours. If the door is opened before the box has cooled, the contents could burst into flames.
  • Avoid damaged or fallen power lines, poles and downed wires.
  • Watch for ash pits and mark them for safety. Warn family and neighbors to keep clear of the pits.
  • Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn them.
  • Follow public health guidance on safe cleanup of fire ash and safe use of masks.
  • Dampen debris to minimize inhaling dust particles.
  • Wear leather gloves and heavy-soled shoes to protect your hands and feet.
  • Properly dispose of cleaning products, paint, batteries and damaged fuel containers to avoid risk.
  • Discard any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
  • Do NOT use water that you think may be contaminated to wash dishes, brush your teeth, prepare food, wash your hands, make ice or make baby formula.
  • You may find yourself in the position of taking charge of other people. Listen carefully to what people are telling you, and deal patiently with urgent situations first.

Hazards After Wildfires: Floods and Landslides

Large-scale wildfires dramatically alter the terrain and ground conditions, and can cause greater risk of flooding. Normally, vegetation absorbs rainfall, reducing runoff. However, wildfires leave the ground charred, barren and unable to absorb water, creating conditions ripe for flash flooding and mudflow, which can cause significant damage. These types of floods are often more severe than flooding from storms, because debris and ash left from the fire can form mudflows. Mudflows can also be formed when rainwater picks up soil and sediment from the damaged ground. Flood risk remains significantly higher until vegetation is restored—up to five years after a wildfire.

In addition to insuring your home, we are committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. If you would like more information on developing a family emergency plan or building a disaster supply kit, please contact Texas Associates Insurors at 512-328-7676 or http://www.txassoc.com today.

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