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Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2018 Vol. 65 No. 6

Texas Emergency Management Briefs, Tips and Links

Published May 7, 2018 by

As Harris County continues to recover from Hurricane Harvey, officials are reminding residents that the start of the 2018 hurricane season is less than a month away.

The Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HCOHSEM) has released a statement urging everyone to prepare in advance of June 1.

"By preparing now, residents can protect themselves and their families from the damaging impacts of a storm," said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. "Area residents can prepare by developing a personalized plan, creating a disaster supply kit and staying informed."

HCOHSEM is promoting National Hurricane Preparedness Week for the next few days by offering safety tips. "But it is up to each person and or family to know their risks and plan for their individual needs," according to HCOHSEM. Some safety precautions include:

  • Discuss and practice an emergency plan with your family
  • Sign up to receive weather and emergency alerts
  • Assemble an emergency supplies kit that includes a NOAA weather radio
  • Have an emergency bag ready to go with important documents in case you need to evacuate
  • Keep your vehicle's gas tank full
  • Trim trees and branches that can easily fall on your home or vehicle
  • Secure loose objects outside your house before severe weather moves in

"It is impossible to precisely predict where storms will form or hit, so it is important that everyone prepares," added Emmett. "As we all know, it only takes one storm to devastate a community."

The office is urging residents to assess risks now and know their home's vulnerability to hurricane hazards. Further, they urge residents to contact their insurance agent for information about flood insurance, as well as understand National Weather Service (NWS) forecast products and the meaning of NWS watches and warnings.

The Zip Zone Evacuation Map or city and county officials can determine whether a home lies within an evacuation zone. If a resident will need transportation or help evacuating, they can sign up with the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry or call 2-1-1, according to the release.

"Remember to prepare an emergency kit for your pets and a plan for how to care for them when you are on the road, in a shelter or motel," the press release concludes. "Please do not leave your pets behind!"

Hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through November 30. Area residents can visit to sign up for emergency alerts.

Original article

Published May 9, 2018. By Katey Psencik of American Statesman

As temperatures climb in Austin, there are a few critters you should keep an eye out for: The bats are back, the bugs are buzzing -- and snakes are slithering across many of Central Texas' green areas. Here's what you need to know about snakes in Central Texas

Diamondback Rattlesnake

Diamondback: the western diamondback rattlesnake, Crotalus atrox. Regarded as the most venomous and the most rare in central Texas. (Photo by Jamie Foley)

Most snakes pose no threat to humans, but there are four species of venomous snakes in the area: Western diamondback rattlesnakes, coral snakes, copperheads and cottonmouths (a.k.a. water moccasins). You can identify the snakes by their unique patterns and physical attributes.

  • Rattlesnakes: There are nine kinds of rattlesnakes in Texas, and all have the traditional "rattle." They're most active at night when hunting for prey.
  • Coral snakes: The coral snake is identifiable by its red, yellow and black colors. You may have some form of the phrase, "Red and yellow, kill a fellow. Red and black, you're OK, Jack." That means venomous coral snakes have red touching yellow on their bodies. Non-venomous snakes, like the Texas milk snake, have red and black touching. Their mouths are small and their bites are rare, but very dangerous.
  • Copperheads: These snakes have gray and brown bands with a copper-colored head. Because of their coloring, they can be well-camouflaged in the forest.
  • Cottonmouths: These are often known as water moccasins because they rarely stray from water. The inside of its mouth is white, hence the 'cottonmouth' name. They can be very aggressive and defensive, and contrary to popular belief, they can bite underwater.

Experts say you should never kill a snake -- even a venomous one -- that you come across.

Most snake bites occur when people try to confront a snake, according to experts. Your best bet is to keep your distance and wait for it to move, or use something like a broom handle or water hose to encourage it to move along.

Snakes are an important part of the ecosystem, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife. They help maintain the population of their prey, such as earthworms and rabbits and even other snakes.

There are certain steps you can take to make your yard and home uninhabitable for snakes.

  • Don't leave out food or water for pets or wildlife, and keep livestock pens as far as possible from your home.
  • Don't leave piles of debris in your yard.
  • Snakes like to eat rats and mice. If you have a rodent problem in your home, taking care of that may eliminate the risk of snakes.
  • Pay attention to trees and shrubs -- snakes like to hang out there -- and consider fencing at least 4 feet high.
  • Cover drainage areas and house vents with mesh to keep snakes from getting inside.
  • Make sure to watch your pets closely if you're worried about snake bites, and take them to the vet immediately if they are bitten. Some businesses also offer snake aversion training for dogs.

Take precautions while hiking or walking outdoors to avoid snakes.

Snakes will likely avoid you (you're much bigger than them!) but they'll bite if they feel trapped or if they're stepped on.

  • Wear close-toed shoes. Snakes have brittle fangs and almost never penetrate canvas sneakers, leather shoes or boots. If you're walking in tall grass, make sure to wear boots.
  • Be careful where you put your hands and feet. Don't step into something or put your arm into something if you can't see the bottom, and use a stick or garden tool to move large logs or pieces of debris.
  • Use a flashlight, even if you're in your own neighborhood or yard.
  • If you do encounter a snake in the wild, stay still and wait for the snake to retreat. If you have to move, back away slowly and carefully.

´╗┐If somebody you know is bitten by a snake, you can help them while you wait for medical assistance to arrive.

Texas Parks and Wildlife provides the following snakebite advice on its website:

  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Keep the victim as calm as possible, and keep yourself calm as well.
  • Watch for any symptoms of shock.
  • Wash the area of the bite with disinfectant soap, if available.
  • Remove any restrictive clothing or jewelry near the bite.
  • Prevent movement of the bitten area and use a splint if possible.

Anti-venom treatment is most effective within the first four hours after a snake bite and is ineffective after eight to 10 hours.

TPWD also shared advice regarding what not to do if you or someone you know is bitten:

  • Do not make incisions over the bite marks or between the punctures.
  • Do not use a tourniquet.
  • Do not use cold compresses, ice packs or other cryotherapy.
  • Do not use electroshock therapy (this was a widely spread method popularized by a South American missionary).
  • Do not drink alcohol, as it can make the venom spread faster.
  • Do not use aspirin, as it speeds up bleeding. Pain reliever without aspirin can be used.
  • Do not put strong pressure on the bite area or wrap it.
  • Do not administer anti-venom unless you're trained to do so.

Do not suck the venom out of the bite.

Original article

Published May 16, 2018 By Haley Hernandez of Click2Houston

Feed a fever. Starve a cold. There are a lot of health tips we believe because we've always been told they were true, but are they?

Houston doctors say there are a lot of misunderstood health issues.

Does the flu shot make your sick?

The number one myth you've probably heard: The flu shot makes you sick. Doctors say it is not possible.

"Most people get inactivated flu or get protein particles that don't have any flu in them so there's no chance of them getting the flu. Often what people experience is as your body is mounting that army of fighter cells, those immune cells to fight off flu," Dr. Charlene Flash, Legacy Community Health, said. "You feel tired, you feel achy, because your body is kind of mounting its army and getting primed when you're responding to the vaccine. That is not the same as the horrific fever, chills, listlessness, feeling like you can't function for a week or more that happens when you actually get influenza."


Myths are also affecting children's health. According to Texas Children's Pediatrics, taking vitamins is not necessary for all kids.

"We spend a lot of money on vitamins and really don't see much benefit. Now, as you get to be an older adult that changes because our bodies do change and we need other supplements but for your average, healthy children, vitamins are usually not that important," Dr. Stan Spinner, chief medical officer of Texas Children's Pediatrics, said.


We tend to think the cleaner your skin, the fewer pimples So, we wash and scrub but in fact, Dr. Sherry Ingraham from Advanced Dermatology said we are stripping the skin, which can contradict your thinking and cause breakouts or even eczema flare-ups.


Some infectious diseases, like HIV, are still plagued with misunderstandings.

Legacy Community Health said avoiding contact with someone who has HIV is nothing more than emotionally hurtful. Sharing a seat, holding hands or having a drink/meal with this person will not make you sick.


For illnesses caused by viruses, antibiotics don't work.

Spinner said many patients are under the impression that every diagnosis comes with a prescription. There's not much to be done for many viruses. However, an anti-viral can help with flu symptoms so it's best to get to the doctor immediately if you have symptoms of the flu.


Cramps are not always normal.

According to Dr. Amy Schutt with Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, only 50% of women experience menstrual cramps. Women who experience cramping that's not associated with menstruation could be experiencing fibroids or infection and should consult their doctor.

All-natural or organic does not always equal healthy

"A lot of things are very bad for you that are natural. It's really important that you know what's in the ingredients and you should always talk to your physician about it because we know some can be harmful and others we just don't know," Dr. Spinner said. "You don't know who's putting what into it, no one's controlling that." Meaning, the Food and Drug Administration does not oversee the making of all of these "natural" products.

Original article

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