September 7, 2022 | UHCL Staff
National Preparedness Month is observed every September to raise awareness about family and community disaster planning now and throughout the year. Although it’s also the height of hurricane season on the Gulf Coast, University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Director of Emergency Management Al Black said it’s important to learn about all the risks that exist in our community, and stay informed.
“It happens that September is also our peak hurricane season, but I’d like for our campus community to plan for the other kinds of emergencies that could happen as well,” he said. “We are always vulnerable to industrial accidents or chemical releases in the Ship Channel or surrounding chemical plants. We’ve had regular rainstorms that have resulted in sudden, major flooding. And the loss of internet during the ice storm of 2020 caught us off guard, but are many other reasons why the internet could go down and cause significant problems.”
Black said this is why he hopes students and staff do not focus only on preparing for hurricanes.
“It’s important that people don’t think emergencies are only weather events,” he said. “We’d like to help you keep in mind, your plans need to be applicable in other types of emergencies as well.”
The contents of a “go bag” are on display in a glass case in Atrium I of the Bayou Building, to help remind staff and students what to have on hand in case of emergency.
“Plan and prepare,” he said. “The go bag can contain bottled water, non-perishable snacks, medications and prescriptions, cash, spare glasses, copies of important documents, and first aid supplies.”
He said pet food and any special foods should also be in the bag. “If you end up in a shelter, you’ll only get the food they have on hand,” he explained. “Having a good plan in place for yourself and your pet keeps you out of a shelter, which should be a last resort—and sometimes they’re already full.”
Medical crises during an emergency can be particularly risky. “If you do not have enough medicine ahead the event to get you through, that’s an additional crisis that would be difficult for emergency responders to deal with,” he said. “The best thing you can do, no matter what the emergency, is make a plan and evacuate when you’re told to do so. Don’t wait around and think someone will come and get you.”
Black said he hopes this month, UHCL students and staff will remember to make a plan, create a go bag, and stay informed.
“Know what you’ll need to do beforehand, and figure out how to communicate and reconnect with family after the event,” he said. “People who are rescued don’t necessarily go to the same locations. Planning ahead helps families reconnect sooner.”
For more information about the Office of Emergency Management, go online.