Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hurricane Preparedness-It's Almost That Time of Year!

Here at MedCare, we are starting to prepare for the Hurricane Season that is fast approaching, and we encourage you to do the same.  Since we are so close to the coast, it is very important that we stay aware of the weather systems in the Gulf, and prepare for the unexpected.  The most important thing that you can do for your family is to make a plan, and then make a backup plan depending on your child’s fragile condition.  Please don’t wait until the last minute because this will increase your stress level, and possibly mean that you will not have the supplies needed and ready to care for your family. Not being prepared may also limit the availability of assistance from others. 

You should be aware of the possibility of flooding in your area. If you in an area that could flood, you are advised to move to higher locations before flooding starts. If you wait too long, you may not be able to get out and assistance may not be an option.  If you are not in a potential flooding area, it is recommended that you not leave your home unless instructed to do so by your local emergency management team. This will decrease the amount of people on the roads and will allow those that are in the flooding areas time to evacuate in a safe and timely manner.

You should also be aware that with hurricane weather, the possibility of power loss is high. At a recent conference we attended, CenterPoint Energy estimated that during and following a hurricane, the following time frames for a loss of electricity could be:
      Category 1 - 7-10 days
      Category 2 - 2-3 weeks
      Category 3 - 3-5 weeks
      Category 4 - 4 -6 weeks
      Category 5 - 6 - 8 weeks

I want to stress that just because your home may be on a high priority list, it does not mean that your electricity will be restored any quicker than the above estimates. We were informed that CenterPoint will work to get the hospitals and water plants up first, and then work on restoring electricity to areas that service the most people next. So if you are without power following a storm and have an electricity need, then you are encouraged to have a plan in place that will cover those estimated times without power. 

Every year, we inform and encourage our caregivers to call the 2-1-1 Texas line if assistance is needed should an evacuation be needed. If you have not registered your child or family members with 2-1-1, we suggest that you do so prior to the Hurricane season, which begins June 1st.  This gives the state-funded programs an idea of how many people could possibly need assistance in the case of an emergency.  This however does not mean that you will receive assistance.  Therefore this should not be your only plan in the case of an emergency; this should be a backup plan in case your other options are exhausted.  It is simple to register. You can simply call 2-1-1 from your home phone.  The state is working on a new system called STEAR that will be replacing 2-1-1 which should streamline this process.  You would be able to register and update your information online.  This should be available late May.  It is recommended that you update 2-1-1 or STEAR any time there is a change in your household’s assistance needs and/or demographic information.