Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2016 Vol. 63 No. 3

Texas Emergency Management Briefs, Tips and Links


October 2015 Severe Weather

Texas received another presidential disaster declaration, DR-4245-TX, for 16 counties for Individual Assistance from the October 2015 severe weather which has resulted in over 9,500 registrations for assistance. As a result, over $18 million has been approved for Individuals and Households assistance and over $15 million approved in U.S. Small Business Administration home and business disaster loans. Texas Division of Emergency Management Human Services staff has been diligently working at the joint field office and in the field to assist disaster survivors in their recovery from this disaster.

For the May Severe weather disaster declaration, DR-4223-TX, over $56 million has been approved for Individuals and Households assistance and $96 million has been approved in U.S. Small Business Administration home and business disaster loans. Disaster case management funds were just awarded for DR-4223-TX and the state case management program will be fully implemented in March.



As the population of so many Texas cities continues to rapidly increase, many people are living in areas that not too long ago were either rural or wildlands. The threat of urban wildfire is becoming more and more common. A record amount of rainfall for much of Texas in 2015 created a favorable environment for a considerable vegetation growth that now has begun to dry out due to a very fairly rain free first quarter in 2016. Many counties around the state are initiating burn bans as the threat of wildfire increases.

The landscape surrounding a house can become fuel for a wildfire. Vegetation to encourage wildlife or to enhance water or energy conservation goals can be included in a firewise landscape as long as the defensible space is maintained.

Decks and siding easily can ignite when plants that burn quickly and produce high heat are placed adjacent to the home. A burning plant or group of plants in front of windows can cause glass breakage allowing fire to enter the home. Taller flames adjacent to the home can enter through the soffits. These flames may reach combustible materials and cause material failure, such as gutter or siding that melts, exposing the wood.

Fire can get into the crowns of trees if plants are layered in such a way that the fire climbs into the treetops. When flames burn through the canopy, intense heat and embers are given off. This causes burning materials to fall on the roof and surrounding vegetation.

Plants placed so that a fire can spread to your home increase the chance of your home receiving direct flame and embers as the fire spreads. Your home is a continuation of the fuel. Creating “defensible space” will greatly reduce your home’s risk to wildfire.

While there is no “fireproof” plant, there are plant characteristics to consider when planning a firewise yard or landscape. The characteristics can be separated into the following two groups:

  1. Fire resistance defines how readily a plant will catch fire (ignitability).
  2. Growth characteristics describe the amount of vegetation that is present.

Create a defensible space around your home or business by creating zones that contain plants with certain fire resistant characteristics along with spacing ideas and key maintenance considerations to make your yard or landscape firewise.

For more information, read the pdf document, Firewise Landscaping in Texas and visit the Texas A&M Forest Service Web page about Fire Danger: Wildfire Risk.


Road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in the United States. Correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent. Unfortunately, according to SafeKids, 73 percent of car seats are not used or installed correctly.


Don’t just assume that your child’s car seat is installed correctly. Take a few minutes to make sure it’s road ready:

Right Seat. Make sure it’s the right seat for your child’s age, weight and height. Check the expiration date of your seat. (Yes, it has one!) Check the label.

Right Place. Children should be in the back seat, at least until they’re thirteen.

Right Direction. Children two and under should be facing backward.

Inch Test. Once your seat is installed, make sure it’s snug. Can it move one inch to the side or from front to back?

Read the instruction to your seat and to your vehicle about proper and safe installation. If someone else is taking your child somewhere in their vehicle, make sure they know how to properly install and test the car seat.

Set a good example. Buckle up for every ride, and be sure everyone in your vehicle buckles up, too.

Take a photo of your car seat label and save it to your phone so you can have it handy.

Finally, never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. The temperature inside your car can rise 20 degrees and cause heatstroke in the time it takes for you to run in and out of a store.

For more information about car seat safety, visit the Safe Kids Worldwide website.

Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention

Every year millions of Americans are affected by suicide. Each year nearly 43,000 Americans die by suicide. For every suicide, there are 25 attempts. Although females attempt suicide three times more often than males, males are more likely to die from suicide. Suicide is highest in middle age, especially among white males. But suicide is preventable.

Risk factors of suicide are often confused with warning signs. Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that an individual will consider, attempt or die by suicide. Some risk factors include:

  • Mental disorders
  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Family history of suicide
  • Loss of a relationship
  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation

Warning signs of suicide are behaviors to recognize if someone is contemplating suicide. If you know someone who is exhibiting any of these signs, seek help as soon as possible. Possible warning signs include:

  • Talking about wanting to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling trapped
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Calling people to say good-bye
  • Giving away prized possessions

Survivors of those who take their own lives often struggle with profound feelings of guilt, grief, anger and disbelief. Survivors often feel they should have been able to prevent a suicide or should have better recognized the signs.

Dealing with a suicide can be traumatic for children, and parents might think they’re helping by not talking about it or rushing them to move past it. When explaining suicide to a child or adolescent, reassure them that they are not responsible and it was nothing they did or said that caused someone to take their own life. With people who have experienced suicide, be prepared to talk about it with them often, especially in the first days and weeks following the event.

Grief from suicide is complex and often misunderstood. But help is available.

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

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