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Texas Department of Insurance
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What Is A Disaster?

Disasters can hurt people and animals and can damage buildings. There are different kinds of disasters. It is important to know which disasters might happen where you live and to be prepared for them. What are the different kinds of disasters, and how do I stay safe when they happen?

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Hurricanes happen when strong winds and thunderstorms mix with the water from the ocean. The wind and flooding that hurricanes cause can hurt people and damage their homes.

Here's how you can be safe in a hurricane:

  • Be ready to leave your home with your family if you need to. You will usually have at least a few days warning if a hurricane will be coming near where you live.
  • Do not come back home until it is safe.


Tornadoes are very strong winds that move around in a circle. They are so strong that they can blow over buildings and cars.

Here's how to be safe during a tornado:

  • Know that you can't outrun a tornado in a car and that you need to get inside right away.
  • Stay in a basement or, if you don't have a basement, find a room on the first floor that does not have any windows. Hallways, bathrooms, and closets are good places to go when there is a tornado.
  • Lie down in a ditch if you are outside and can't get inside.


Hail is frozen rain that falls from the sky in hard balls called hailstones. Hailstones can be heavy and fall with great force. They range in size from about the size of a pea to the size of a grapefruit. Hailstones can hurt cars, windows, crops, livestock, and people who are outside during a storm.

Here's how to be safe in a hail storm:

  • Going indoors immediately and staying there until the storm is over.
  • Closing drapes, blinds, or window shades, and then staying away from the windows or sunroofs.

Go indoors immediately and stay there until the storm is over.

Close drapes, blinds, or window shades, and then stay away from the windows or sunroofs.

Flash Floods

Flash Floods can happen when it rains very heavily in a short time. This can cause streams, creeks, rivers, and lakes to overflow.

Here's how to be safe in a flash flood:

  • Move to higher ground.
  • Stay away from flood water. Never play or swim in flood water because it might be dirty and could make you sick. Flood water can also move quickly and could sweep you away.
  • Never try to cross flood water when walking. Remind your parents that they should never drive through flood water in a car. Even water that does not look deep can be so strong that it will sweep away a car.

Ice Storms

Ice Storms happen when it's cold and rain freezes on the ground. Ice storms cover everything outside in ice. Ice storms can cause big trees to fall, which can hurt cars, houses, or break electric power lines.

Here's how to be safe in an ice storm:

  • Stay inside your house until the ice storm is over. The Disaster Ready Kit list will help you know what you need.
  • Don't drive unless it is really necessary. Driving on icy roads can be very dangerous, even when driving very slowly.


Wildfires are fires that burn out of control. They usually happen when it has not rained for a long time and there are strong winds. Wildfires often start out small, but grow quickly because of the wind and dry conditions. They can move very quickly and can be difficult for firefighters to put out.

Here's how to be safe in a wildfire:

Stay Informed

One of the most important things you can do in any type of disaster is to stay informed. Listen to the TV or radio news when disasters are coming or happening. The news reporters will let you know whether you are in danger and what you should do if you are.

Questions? Call us at 800-252-3439.