Preparedness - Extreme Weather

A flooded street

Harris County Public Health (HCPH) is the primary agency responsible for protecting the public's health in the event of a widespread public health emergency within Harris County. 

The Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR) within HCPH develops and implements a comprehensive, department-wide approach to prepare the community of Harris County to safely respond to and recover from public health emergencies. The office ensures an effective, coordinated response to disease outbreaks and weather-related disasters.




Boil Water Notice for Harris County

Due to inclement weather - such as hurricanes and artic storms - boil water notices may be issued to Harris County residents if their water supply may have been impacted. Under the provisions of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Harris County Public Health (HCPH) will notify those areas that need to boil water prior to consumption due to possible contamination.

There are currently no areas in Harris County under a Boil Water Notice.

Recommendations

Disinfect water used for drinking (including for your pets), cooking, brushing teeth, making baby formula, rinsing contact lenses, shaving, and making ice. Use one of the following methods:

  • Boiling. Boil water for two (2) minutes after it reaches a full rolling boil.
  • Chlorine Bleach. Use only unscented liquid chlorine bleach. If water is clear, add 2 drops of bleach per quart of water (8 drops per gallon). If water is cloudy, add 4 drops of bleach per quart of water (16 drops per gallon). Mix well and let stand 30 minutes before using.
  • Purification Tablets. These are available at drug stores or camping outlets. Follow the directions on the package. If tablets are over a year old, replace them or throw them away.
  • Bottled water. Use only water from bottles that have a sealed top.

Continue disinfecting the water until you are notified the water is safe! When it is no longer necessary to boil the water, the water system will notify you that the water is safe for consumption. Instructions to discontinue boiling will be issued in the same manner as this notice.

Recommendations for Food Establishments:

Guidelines for Food Establishments (Boil Water Notice)



Power Outages

Losing power can occur during severe thunderstorms, extreme weather brought on by hurricanes, and even winter weather like ice storms. While the time of year and temperature outside may impact the ways you keep yourself, your loved ones, and your home safe, review the common tips for what to do in the event you lose power below.

  • Use flashlights, not candles. Have extra batteries on hand.
  • Don’t burn anything in a fireplace that isn’t meant to be used inside and would create hazardous fumes. 
  • If you use a generator, don’t use it in an enclosed space and make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector. Carbon Dioxide gas has no odor, color or taste, but is deadly.



Hurricane Preparedness and Recovery

For Mold Remediation information and resources, please visit:  Texas Department of Health Services


Download Guidance for Food Establishments:
Post Disaster Food Protection
Food Safety After Power Outage



Extreme Heat Advisory




Winter Weather

Personal Safety

  • Anyone exposed to extreme cold for long periods of time can get hypothermia, a significant and potentially dangerous drop in body temperature. 
  • However, the elderly are especially vulnerable. If their temperature drops to 95 degrees or lower, it can cause health problems. This can also happen in their homes, if there is little or no heat. 
  • Inside or out, if you are cold, dress warmly, stay hydrated and make sure you are eating enough. 
  • If you have elderly neighbors or family members, check on them. Make sure they have heat and ask if they need groceries or prescriptions picked up or delivered.

Pets

  • With below freezing temperatures, your pet(s) needs to be inside. 
  • If that isn’t possible, make sure they have a waterproof shelter, preferably raised off the ground, with dry, warm bedding. Give them fresh water frequently and plenty of food. 
  • Keep your cat inside, but be aware stray cats often try to keep warm by crawling up onto your car’s motor to keep warm. Honk your horn before starting your car to give them time to escape.
  • Buy enough pet food for several days so you don’t run out.

Protect Your Home

  • In a house, protect faucets, outdoor pipes, and pipes in unheated areas, such as attics, by wrapping them with rags, newspaper, trash bags, or insulation. When pipes freeze and break, they will flood your yard or home. 
  • Open the cabinets under sinks in your kitchen and bathrooms to allow heated indoor air to circulate around the water pipes. 
  • Let indoor faucets drip, but don't run a heavy stream of water. 
  • Don’t put space heathers near furniture, clothing, people or pets and don’t leave them unattended.
  • Be careful of ice on steps, driveways and sidewalks. Consider using salt or sand to make them safer.

Roads

  • In extreme weather conditions, limit travel as much as possible as the conditions of roads can be unpredictable.
  • Watch the weather forecast. If there is snow or ice in your area, do not drive anywhere - especially at night when visibility is low.