David McEntire, professor in UNT’s Department of Public Administration, shares what you need to know to be ready

David McEntire

As summer begins, it’s important to know how to be prepared for severe weather and possible disasters  - whether you live in a campus residence hall or in an apartment or house off campus. David McEntire, professor in UNT’s Department of Public Administration, and expert in disaster  preparedness and management, has advice so you can be ready for any situation.

The UNT Department of Public Administration’s city management and urban policy program is ranked eighth in the United States, according to the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings, and UNT’s Masters of Public Administration program has a solid reputation as one of the most respected in the country. Alumni from the Department of Public Administration serve in leadership roles across Texas and the United States.

  1. When does severe weather season start in North Texas, and how long does it last?
    Tornadoes and severe weather can occur almost any time of the year in North Texas.  However, there are two predominant tornado seasons in our area.  One occurs in the Spring and early Summer.  Another probable season for tornadoes is in the Fall.  Regardless of the time of year, people should be vigilant about paying attention to the weather forecasts.
     
  2. What types of severe weather or disasters could we face in North Texas?
    North Texas is plagued with almost every type of severe weather and disaster.  Besides tornadoes and fierce winds, there is also the possibility of hail, lightning, flooding, ice storms, winter storms, wild fires, excessive heat and drought.  Even small earthquakes must be taken into account in light of recent seismic activity in this region. North Texas may also experience technological hazards including industrial explosions, power grid failures and hazardous materials spills. Other emergencies or disasters may include train derailments, vehicle pileups, and plane crashes. As we have seen recently, riots, acts of violence and terrorist attacks cannot be ignored either.
     
  3. How can people who live in residence halls or in apartments be prepared?
    Besides always heeding safety measures, the most important thing is to maintain awareness and to take appropriate action. Do you know if the weather will be severe today? Do you know where you would go to take cover in case of severe weather? For instance, is there a “safe room” in your home? Or, can you get into a basement or in a central location on the bottom floor of the building? Also, do you know how to evacuate your building through alternate exits? Do you watch the news to get the latest updates on an unfolding event? What else should you do to protect yourself and react effectively? It is imperative that you think rationally and act decisively.
     
  4. Are there different steps those who live in houses should take?
    People in houses should know how to shut off water and gas utilities in case a disaster occurs.  Everyone should make sure their home, apartment and belongings are insured.
     
  5. Do you recommend specific items for an emergency kit?
    Yes, there are necessary supplies you should have on hand to ensure you have sufficient resources that might be needed in case of an emergency. This may include a fire extinguisher, smoke detector, NOAA weather radio, first aid kit, flashlight and batteries, matches and candles, extra clothing or blankets, medicines and prescriptions, diapers and baby formula, and food and water. Be sure to prepare emergency kits for your home and your vehicle too.
     
  6. What goes into developing a disaster plan? Who should be involved?
    Individuals should insure that they have a plan of how to act when a disaster occurs.  This may be as simple as identifying where you will evacuate to in case of a fire in your residence hall, apartment or home. However, it is important to also consider if you will need certain supplies and resources (such as food, water and cash), if others may need assistance (e.g., the disabled), and if you will need to take other items with you (extra clothing). Filling up your gas tank when it is half empty is a good idea. Everyone - people, organizations, businesses, government agencies – should develop a plan on how to deal with disasters. Additional information about disaster plans is on the Know What 2 Do website and the FEMA website.
     
  7. In the event of a disaster, technology we are used to -- such as the internet or smart phones -- may not be available. How can we stay informed and communicate with family and friends?
    Technology may not always work in or after a disaster. This may include electricity, the internet or phones.  You will need to find a way to provide lighting, stay warm or cool, obtain information and communicate with others. It is imperative to have flashlights, blankets and a battery or crank operated radio. Also, it is important to remember that it is often better to text in a disaster rather than make phone calls (since texts use less data than phone calls). Finding ways to communicate with family and friends who are out of state is advisable. For instance, if a student cannot contact parents in California, it might be wise to call a cousin in Houston who can then try to relay the information to other family members.
     
  8. Does UNT have resources to let the campus community know about emergency situations?
    In the event of an emergency, UNT will notify you with an Eagle Alert. Eagle Alerts allow UNT to contact the campus community quickly with text and voice messages. Check my.unt.edu to make sure your contact information is up to date and to be sure you will receive Eagle Alerts.

 

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