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Firefighters Urge Community to Prepare for Severe Weather

Travis County ESD No. 2 is urging everyone in the Pflugerville community and throughout Central Texas to prepare themselves for the inevitability of severe weather this spring and summer.  While flooding, tornados, lightning, and heat waves are facts of life in this region, they don’t have to be deadly with advance action and common sense.

Flooding: TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN

Central Texas is known as a hotbed of flash floods, which are the #1 cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S.  Most of these deaths occur when drivers try to drive through floodwaters, while others happen when pedestrians try to walk through or near flooded areas. Just six inches of rushing water can knock down an adult, and even less can topple a child.

It is never safe to drive or walk into flood waters. Obey all barricades and warning signs. Remember to TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN. Many drivers overestimate the strength of their vehicles, and underestimate the water’s strength and depth. Drivers often lose control of their vehicles – including SUVs and pick-up trucks – in just six inches of water, and it only takes 1 to 2 feet of moving water to force a vehicle off the road.  Be especially careful when driving or walking at night when it’s much harder to recognize flood dangers.

If the forecast calls for heavy or steady rainfall, avoid parking, camping or hiking along creeks, streams, and rivers. This includes the Gilleland Creek and Wilbarger Creek areas, where floodwaters can move as fast as six feet a second.

Being prepared for a flood also includes familiarizing yourself with local roads that are known to occasionally flood, and planning another route. Here are some of the road sections that our Fire Department personnel have seen flood in the past across our service area (which extends well past Pflugerville city limits). Others may exist that are not included here.

Cameron Rd – 16300, 17600, 18700, and 20400 blocks

Cele Rd – 5900 and 7200 blocks

Crystal Bend Rd – 1700 block

Engelmann Rd – 19400 block

Grand Avenue Pkwy – 1400 block

Gregg Lane – 10200 block

Heatherwilde Blvd – 18100 block

Hidden Lakes Dr

Immanuel Rd – 1600 block

Jesse Bohls Dr – 6900 block

Kelly Lane – 2800 and 3400 blocks

Mammoth Cave Blvd – 18100 block

Melber Lane – 21200 block

Pecan St – 2000 block

Railroad Ave – 600 block

Weiss Lane – 16800 block 

Homeowners are also encouraged to know their property’s risk of flooding and take steps to mitigate this risk, which vary from property to property even in the same neighborhood. Flood risks may change over time due to factors such as erosion and new construction. The City of Pflugerville works with other agencies every few years to update its digital flood hazard map to indicate the current floodplain. To see the current map and learn about flood insurance, click here. For Travis County floodplain information, click here.

 

Tornadoes: GET IN, GET DOWN, COVER UP

A tornado WATCH means tornadoes are possible. Remain alert and watch the sky. Get ready. Stay tuned to a weather radio or TV for updates. A tornado WARNING means a tornado has actually been spotted near you or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter now.

Get in!  If you are outside, get inside. If you’re already inside, get as far into the middle of the building as possible. Enclose yourself in a closet or interior hallway.

Get Down!  Try to go underground. If you can’t, get down to the lowest floor/location possible.

Cover Up!  Flying/falling debris is a tornado’s #1 killer! Get under a sturdy table. Use bike helmets, coats, pillows, blankets, your arms, etc. to cover your head and body. Put on sturdy shoes.

If you’re driving, never try to hide from a tornado under an overpass. You are safer in a low, flat location. Don’t try to outrun a tornado while driving in a city setting or heavy traffic. Try to get into a safe building. Being inside is safer than being in a car, or near a car that can fly into you.

Make sure your pets’ collars and tags are on, and put leashes on them or have their crates readily accessible.

 

Lightning: WHEN THUNDER ROARS, GO INDOORS 

If you can hear thunder, even a distant rumble, you are in danger and need to immediately get to a safe place. There is no safe place outside in a thunderstorm. Fully enclosed buildings with wiring and plumbing provide the best protection. Sheds, picnic shelters, tents, dug-outs, and covered porches do not protect you from lightning. If a sturdy building is not available, get inside a hard-topped metal vehicle and close the windows. Avoid open areas, tall isolated objects, electrical equipment and wiring, baths and showers, and corded phones (except for emergencies).

Each year, over 55 people are killed by lightning in the U.S., and hundreds of others suffer permanent neurological disabilities. Don’t be fooled by blue skies! Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain. The threat of lightning extends 6 to 10 miles outward from the base of a thunderstorm cloud. Many lightning deaths occur ahead of storms or after they seemed to pass.

 

Heat Waves: SLOW DOWN, COOL DOWN

During extremely hot and humid weather, your body has a harder time cooling. When the body heats up too quickly to properly cool itself – or when too much fluid/salt is lost through sweating or dehydration – the victim may suffer heat exhaustion or heat stroke. And remember: never leave kids, pets, or disabled adults alone in parked cars!

Preventing Heat Stroke

Slow down! Reduce, cancel or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day

Prevent sunburn through sunscreen, sunhats, and minimizing direct exposure to the sun; a sunburn reduces your body’s ability to cool down

Dress in lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight

Even if you don’t feel thirsty, proactively bring and drink plenty of water (not very cold) or other non-alcoholic, decaffeinated fluids

Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salad

Take a cool bath or shower

Spend time in air-conditioned locations

Don’t direct the flow of portable electric fans toward you when the room temperature is hotter than 90°; the dry, blowing air may further dehydrate you

Heat Stroke Symptoms

Altered mental state or confusion

Rapid and strong pulse

Hot, red, dry, or moist skin

Fainting or loss of consciousness

One or more of these symptoms: dizziness, throbbing headache, nausea, shallow breathing

Body temperature 103°F or greater

First Aid for Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency! Call 9-1-1 or get the victim to a hospital immediately

Get to a cooler setting, preferably air-conditioned

Do NOT give fluids

Reduce body temperature with cool cloths or a bath

Use a fan only IF the heat index is BELOW the high-90s

Copyright © 2012 Travis County ESD No. 2 / Pflugerville Fire Department. All Rights Reserved.

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