AAA Texas encourages residents to plan for disaster

AAA Texas Encourages Residents in Harvey’s Potential Path to Review Disaster Plans

(Houston, TX) — With Tropical Storm Harvey now in the Gulf of Mexico and a possible threat to some areas of the Texas Gulf Coast later in the week, there’s still time to make preparations to ensure the safety of your family and your home.

Even if the brunt of the storm misses the Texas coast, the area could still experience strong wind, heavy rain, high surf and flash flood watches, according to the National Weather Service.

“This is the first storm of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season to threaten the Texas coast and AAA Texas encourages residents to be prepared,” said AAA Texas/New Mexico Public Affairs Representative Sarah Schimmer. “If you haven’t done so already, review your family’s emergency plans and gather necessary supplies now.”

A family disaster plan should include:

Safe places to seek shelter when at work, home or school during severe weather. A disaster supply kit, which includes water, food, first aid supplies, bedding, tools and emergency supplies. Safe storage for prescription medications, baby formula and diapers. A vehicle filled with gasoline and have a supply of cash on hand. A designated out of town emergency contact who is informed of your plan.

“The family disaster plan should be updated every school year as places of employment or residence change. Generally, going to the closest safe place usually is best,” Schimmer said. “After the emergency has passed, designate a place where family members can meet, if separated.”

Other important preparations include:

Keep a battery-powered radio handy.

Protect all windows with shutters or plywood.

Check the tie downs on mobile homes.

Contact your insurance agent to learn of your coverage for damage caused by floods and high winds.

“Assembling all the necessary items is an important step,” said Schimmer. “But keeping all of these supplies in one, easy to access location is equally as important.”

AAA Texas offers the following tips when driving in wet weather is necessary:

AAA Texas reminds motorists that driving in wet weather conditions requires preparation, good tires, well-maintained brakes, and streak-free wipers. To stay safe behind the wheel during wet weather be aware of road conditions, reduce speed appropriately, and be prepared for challenging situations.

Prepare your car. Replace windshield wipers that streak or don’t clear glass in a single swipe; make sure headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are properly functioning so other drivers will see you during downpours; make sure vehicle is up-to-date on vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations including tire tread depth and tire pressure.

Buckle up. Make sure you and all your passengers are wearing seatbelts including children in proper child safety seats based on their weight and age.

Don’t drive distracted. Adjust mirrors, seats and other settings before your start the vehicle. Also don’t’ be distracted by mobile devices, music, eating or other passengers.

Turn around if road is covered with water. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service, the reason many people drown during flooding is because they don’t realize the incredible power of water. A mere six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult as well as carry away some vehicles. If you come to an area that is covered with water, you will not know the depth of the water or the condition of the ground under the water. This is especially true at night, when your vision is limited. Whether driving or walking, any time you come to a flooded road, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”

Allow more travel time. Plan to drive at a slower pace than normal when the roads are wet. Being in a rush puts you at a higher risk for being in a collision.

Keep your windshield and windows clean. It’s important to clean the inside of your windows. If the glass gets foggy, open a window slightly and turn the defroster fan to a higher speed. Use your air conditioner to reduce humidity.

Keep headlights clean. When motorists drive on wet streets, mud and dirt can splash onto your headlights, reducing illumination by up to 90 percent. Stop periodically during a long trip to clean your headlights.

Drive with your daytime running lights or low-beam headlights on at all times – especially on dark or overcast days.

Recognize a crisis. When visibility is so limited drivers cannot see the edges of the road or other vehicles at a safe distance, the driver should consider pulling off the road and waiting for the rain to ease up. It’s best to stop at a rest area or exit the freeway and go to a protected area. If the roadside is your only option, pull off of the road as far as you can.

Avoid using cruise control in wet weather driving conditions. This feature works great in dry weather scenarios, but when used in wet conditions the chance of losing control of your vehicle increases.

Sudden braking often leads to skids. Stopping on a slippery surface requires more distance, so increase your following distance. Focus your attention as far ahead as possible – at least 20 to 30 seconds. Give a truck or bus extra distance.

AAA Texas offers these tips for when a vehicle becomes flooded:

1. Always think of personal safety first. Leaving a vehicle to get to safer, higher ground to prevent injury or loss of life should always be the first priority.

2. Don’t try to start the car when your vehicle takes on water. Flood waters are corrosive and contain debris that could enhance any damage the car has already received as a result of taking on water. In some cases vehicles may be salvageable by drying out, but starting a car in flood water can send water into systems that may not be affected by standing water.

3. Contact your insurance provider to report a claim and get advice on your coverage, repair and rental needs.

4. When waters recede get your car towed by a trusted provider to a trusted mechanic or dealership to have your vehicle evaluated for damage and possible repair. Make arrangements to retrieve your car as soon as possible to limit damage both to the interior and exterior. As weather warms up, and if the car is determined to be salvageable, the interior may be subject to mold and mildew if it sits too long.

5. When safe to do so, take photos of your vehicle for documentation and to aid in the recovery and claims process with your insurance provider.

6. Flooding events create demand for rental cars. Be sure to work with your insurance provider to report your claim and reserve your rental as soon as possible.