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"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."
                                             
  ---Benjamin Franklin

Emergencies and Disasters--whether natural or man-made--are inevitable. But, even with just a little preplanning and knowledge, these hardships can be more manageable and less life-threatening.

       Know The Forecast

What's the difference between a WATCH, ADVISORY, and WARNING?

 

During weather-related events, the quickest way to get local weather updates, often during real time, is by tuning in to your local news station meteorologist. But when your television service becomes compromised due to satellite interruption or electricity going off, there are other ways to stay informed. One is to have a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio station within your home. These are inexpensive devices that can be purchased at HEB or on Amazon. Other ways to be notified include the following:

 Facebook
                        Instagram
                        Twitter

  • Local News Stations and their Social Media

   Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Generally, keeping your eyes and ears open will serve one well in any disaster or emergency, whether natural or man-made. Always be aware of who is in your presence and move or leave the area if you feel uncomfortable or sense something is out of sorts. Check out these other tips:

  • When in buildings, know where various nearby exits are located. Check exits prior to needing them to ensure nothing is locked or blocking the way out.
  • When in crowds, identify ways out of the crowd in case you need to make a quick exit.
  • If law enforcement is on scene, follow law enforcement's instructions and evacuate in the direction they describe.
  • If threatened by an active shooter RUN, HIDE, or FIGHT. You may have to use more than one option.

Create An Emergency Plan

Be ready BEFORE the emergency or disaster hits.

 

Sometimes, people will be asked to "Shelter in Place." The current situation is too hazardous or dangerous to move elsewhere. Examples of such an incident include but are not limited to an active shooter, tornado, winter storms or chemical, radiological or other hazard.  Prepare now determining what items you might need when sheltering in place even for several days such as water, medications, batteries, prepared food, blankets.

 

In other situations, people are advised to "Evacuate." Whether having to evacuate from home, school or office, plan multiple evacuation routes in case one is impassable. Determine and communicate a common meet-up destination for those in your family or organization who have had to evacuate. And make arrangements now for pets and livestock in the event of an evacuation.

 

FEMA Emergency Preparedness Tips By Type
 (Source of Info. FEMA P-2064 "Are You Ready? An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness")
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    Photo Credit

    Bastrop County, home of the Lost Pines, has seen its number of wildfires. The Bastrop County Complex fire ignited on Sept. 4, 2011 was the most destructive wildfire in state history. The 32,000-acre inferno destroyed over 1,600 homes and killed two people. Through time, this area has seen rejuvenation and revitalization of wildlife and their habitats as well as people's homes. Knowing steps to take to both prevent wildfires and actions to take when posed with a wildfire can save lives!

    Before A Wildfire

    • Display clearly visible 911 address signs at property entrance
    • Create defensible space by thinning trees and brush within 30 feet around residence. Beyond that, remove dead wood, debris, and low tree branches.
    • Make sure water resources are accessible by fire department.
    • Have chimneys, wood stoves and all home heating systems inspected and cleaned annually by a certified specialist.
    • Have a fire extinguisher on hand.
    • Observe local burn bans.
    • Maintain at least 1/2 of a tank of gas in your vehicle in case you are asked to evacuate.

    During a Wildfire

    • Know multiple escape routes.
    • Shut off gas at the meter & turn off propane tanks.
    • Connect garden hoses to outside taps.
    • Wet down roof and shrubs within 15 feet of residence.
    • Close windows, vents, doors, blinds and drapes. Remove flammable window coverings.
    • Close all interior doors and windows to prevent drafts.
    • Place valuables that will not be damaged by water in pool or pond.
    • Load Emergency Go Bag in to vehicle.
    • Plan for the evacuation of pets.
    • Back car in to garage or park in direction to escape. Shut doors and windows. Leave the key in the ignition and car unlocked.  Close garage and disconnect automatic garage door openers.
    • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
    • Watch for changes in speed and direction of fire and smoke during escape. 
    • Return to residence only when instructed it is safely to do so.

    To Find Out More

    FEMA's Wildfire Guide
    National Fire Protection Association Preparing Homes for Wildfire
    Texas Forest Service Prepare Your Home for Wildfire 

     

    Texas Wildfire Risk Assessment Interactive Page

    Texas A&M Forest Service maintains the Texas Wildfire Risk Assessment interactive page.  Homeowners can find numerous resources including the "What's Your Risk" interactive tool. Put in an address and this real-time tool will reveal the fire risk for that location for that specific time.

  • Central Texas is prone to flash flooding especially in the spring and summer. This event can develop quickly, sometimes without any visible signs of rain. Dangerous walls of roaring water can make roadways impassable and can flood properties, creating expensive damage. 

    Paying for Flood Damages

    • Flood loss is NOT covered under homeowners' policies.
    • Flood insurance is available whether the structure is in or out of an identified flood plain.
    • Obtain flood insurance through an insurance agent.
    • There is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance goes into effect.

    Before a Flood

    • Avoid building in a flood plain.
    • Construct barriers and install outside drains and ditches to divert floodwater.
    • Elevate outside A/C unit, water heater and electric panel if susceptible to flooding.
    • Identify escape routes that avoid waterways if possible.

    During a Flood

    • Do not drive into flooded areas.
    • Do not walk through moving water.
    • Stay tune to weather reports.
    • Move to high ground.
    • If you have to evacuate, disconnect electrical appliances. DO NOT touch electrical equipment if wet or standing in water.
    • Turn off utilities at main switch.

    To Find Out More

    FEMA's Flood Guide
    Rainfall Forecast WPC days 1-5
    LCRA Hydromet
    Road Closures

     

  • Summers in Central Texas are hot. But factor in the humidity and the heat index, or "feels-like" temperature, often rises above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In extreme heat and high humidity,  evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature possibly causing a life-threatening situation.

    Know the Terms

    Heat Wave - Prolonged period of excessive heat.
    Heat Cramps - First signal body is having difficulty in heat. Muscles will spasm and create pain. Move the victim to a cooler location, massage the muscle, sip cool water.
    Heat Exhaustion - A mild shock where blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to vital organs. If not treated, victim's condition will worsen possibly leading to heat stroke. Get victim to lie down in cool place and sip cool water. Loosen clothing and apply cool, wet cloths. Seek immediate medical attention is victim is vomiting.
    Heat Stroke - A life-threatening condition. The body temperature can rise so high, resulting in brain damage or even death. Call 911 or get victim to hospital immediately. Cool body with a sponge bath or wet sheet to reduce body temperature.

     During a Heat Emergency

    • Stay out of sun as much as possible.
    • Stay cool in home or in public buildings.
    • Drink plenty of water.
    • Limit alcohol and salt intake.
    • Dress in loose, light-colored clothing, covering as much skin as possible.
    • Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
    • Utilize fans.

    People & Pets

    • Check in on family and friends.
    • Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat.
    • Never leave children or pets in hot vehicle.

    Building Readiness

    • Install temporary window reflectors such as foil or cardboard between windows and drapes.
    • Weather strip doors and sills to keep cool air inside.
    • Install window air conditions snuggly. 
    • Insulate air conditioning ducts well.

    To Find Out More

  • Every thunderstorm produces lightning, sometimes creating quite a show and sometimes not. Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall. Warm, humid conditions typically produce thunderstorms that last a brief period, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. 

    Severe Thunderstorm - One that produces hail at least three-quarters of an inch in diameter, has winds 58 miles per hour or higher, or produces a tornado.

    Preparing for Area Thunderstorm

    • Postpone outdoor activity
    • Secure outside objects
    • Get inside
    • Unplug appliances and other electrical devices such as televisions and computers. Turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
    • Avoid showering or bathing. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
    • Avoid anything metal--tractors, golf carts, motorcycles

     

    If Caught in Storm

    On Open Water - Get to land immediately and find shelter.
    In The Woods - Shelter in low area under thick growth of small trees.
    In An Open AreaBe alert for flash floods. Go to a low ravine or valley.

     

    To Find Out More

    FEMA's Thunderstorm & Lightening Guide

     

  • Peak tornado season in the south is March through May. Tornados may occur any time of the day but are more likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. 

    Tornados are nature's most violent of storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornados cause fatalities and can devastate a neighborhood in seconds. Tornados generally occur at the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. Before a tornado hits, wind may die down and the air may become very still. 

    Tornado Danger Signs

    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • Large-dark, low-lying cloud often rotating
    • Loud roar, similar to a freight train

    If Caught in a Tornado

    • A Vehicle, Trailer, or Manufactured Home - Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy nearby building.
    • Outside With No Shelter - Do not get under an overpass or try to outrun a tornado. Instead, lie flat in a ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. 
    • Inside of Structure - Go to lowest level of building and to the center of an interior room away from doors and windows. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect head and neck.

    To Find Out More

    FEMA's Tornado Guide

  • Extreme cold resulting in a immobilizing winter storm was virtually unheard of in Bastrop County until Winter Storm Uri February 13-17, 2021.  Roadways throughout the State became impassable for days resulting in people isolated in homes, many of which lost electricity and suffered from broken water pipes. For those who did not prepare for the storm to last several days, water, medicines and food supplies ran short.

     

    Before The Winter Storm

    • Have at least a week's supply of non-perishable food and drinking water
    • Have an old-fashion, hand-cranked can opener available.
    • Medications should be in ample supply.
    • Charged batteries should be accessible in case electricity goes out.
    • Vehicles should be winter ready. Ensure antifreeze levels are sufficient to avoid freezing. Car battery should be in top condition. Vehicle should have at least 1/2 a tank of gas.
    • Own a working generator to be used outdoors in case electricity fails.
    • Insulate outdoor water faucets.

     

    During A Winter Storm

    • Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing.
    • Wear a hat and gloves.
    • Stay inside layered in blankets. Interior rooms tend to be the warmest.
    • Conserve fuel by temporarily closing off rooms.
    • Capitalize on the warmth of sunshine by opening window coverings during peak sunshine. Otherwise, keep window coverings closed.
    • Install temporary window insulation with cardboard between window and window covering.
    • Ensure doors and window sills are sealed.
    • Check on neighbors.
    • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters.
    • Set up generators outside.

     

    To Find Out More

    FEMA's Winter Weather Guide
    Road Closures

     

  • Fire spreads quickly; in just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames. Smoke can be just as dangerous as flames. There is no time to gather belongings or to make phone calls. Take these actions to protect yourself and your family.

     

    Take Protective Measures

    • Install smoke alarms and periodically check that they are in working order. Replace batteries yearly; replace smoke alarms every ten years.
    • Have working fire extinguishers on hand.
    • Display your 911 address at the road so that emergency crews can easily find your residence.
    • Plan and practice escape routes and meeting places. Have alternatives, depending where and when a fire may break out.
    • Teach family members to stay low to the floor when escaping.
    • Sleep with bedroom doors closed.
    • Make sure windows are not nailed or painted shut.
    • Have escape ladders stationed in upper-level rooms.
    • Clean up clutter, especially flammable and combustible liquids and rags.
    • Maintain clean chimneys free of soot and overhanging branches.
    • Store ashes in a metal container.
    • Utilize a fireplace screen.
    • Never smoke in bed.
    • Have heating units inspected and cleaned annually.
    • Make sure dry vents are free of lent.
    • Inspect extension cords for frayed or exposed wiring.
    • Insulation should not touch bare electrical wiring.
    • Utilize circuit breakers.

     

    During A Fire

    • Check closed door for heat prior to opening. If door is HOT, escape through a window. If door is COLD, open slowly and ensure escape route is not blocked by smoke or flames. If clear, crawl out immediately to avoid rising smoke, closing door behind you. 
    • If your clothes catch fire, STOP, DROP, and ROLL.
    • Do not re-enter structure once you are out.
    • Call 9-1-1.

     

     

  • From cleaning, automotive, and lawn and gardening products to pesticides and workshop/painting supplies, homes a filled with hazardous products. Know where yours are stored and ensure that they are out of the reach of children.

    National Poison Control Number

    1-800-222-1222

    If someone has been exposed to a hazardous chemical, call emergency medical services. To provide requested information, have the hazardous chemical container on hand.

     

    Signs of Toxic Poisoning

    • Difficulty breathing
    • Irritation of the eyes, skin, throat, or respiratory tract.
    • Changes in skin color.
    • Headache or blurred vision.
    • Dizziness.
    • Clumsiness or lack of coordination.
    • Cramps or diarrhea.

     

    Storing Hazardous Household Materials

    • Purchase only what you will use. 
    • Keep products in their labeled, original containers.
    • Never store these products in food containers.
    • Never mix with other products.
    • Avoid using flammables near an open flame.
    • Wear protective gloves and eye protection.
    • Use in a well-ventilated area.
    • Dispose of hazardous materials correctly.

     

     

  • We are surrounded by hazardous materials whether they are being produced in community factories, stored in nearby facilities,  transported up and down the roadways or railways, or disposed of improperly.  Our community has a Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) who collects information about hazardous materials in the community. This information is available at the Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management. 

    If there becomes a hazardous materials emergency in our community, warnings will be issued to the public who should stay away from the hazardous area to minimize the risk of contamination. 

    Hazardous Materials Incident Considerations

    • Some toxic chemicals are odorless.
    • Report lingering vapors or other hazards to your local emergency authorities.
    • If asked to evacuate, do so immediately.
    • Return only when authorities say it is safe. Open windows and vents and turn on fans to provide ventilation.
    • If caught OUTSIDE, stay upstream, uphill and upwind; try to go at least one-half mile from danger zone.
    • If caught IN VEHICLE, close windows and vents; shut off air conditioner or heater. Seek shelter in permanent building.
    • If advised to STAY INDOORS, close all exterior doors, inside doors, windows, vents, and fireplace dampers. Shut off air conditioners & heaters. Go to a shelter room and seal windows, doors, pipes, and vents with plastic sheeting or duct tape.

     

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