The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is urging Texans to begin making plans to protect themselves and their families prior to the start of the 2016 hurricane season, which begins June 1 and continues through Nov. 30.

“Texans should not wait until a storm is in the Gulf of Mexico to begin planning for a disaster. We are urging residents to get their hurricane plans and kits in order now, before hurricane season starts,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Early preparation can be crucial to protecting lives and property when a storm threatens our state.”

“Many Texans have already witnessed the perilous nature of severe weather this year, and the upcoming hurricane season presents the possibility for additional storms and dangerous conditions,” said Texas Governor Greg Abbott. “I urge our residents to prepare for these potential threats as soon as possible, to stay aware of local weather conditions at all times, and to always abide by warnings and evacuation orders from their local officials.”

All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes or tropical storms. It is possible for a storm to severely impact our state, even prior to or without making direct landfall in Texas. Additionally, the rain-bands associated with a tropical system have an extremely wide reach, so monitoring changing weather conditions during hurricane season is critically important for all Texans.

Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines, and winds can vary from 74 to 157 miles per hour (or higher). In addition, hurricanes and tropical storms can also spawn tornadoes, create dangerous coastal water conditions including storm surges along the coast, and cause extensive damage from flooding.

Here are several measures residents can take now to prepare for potential storms:

  • Assemble an emergency kit that includes essential documents, supplies and provisions.
  • Review hurricane evacuation maps, and select a route for you and your family.
  • Plan how all family members and pets will evacuate safely.
  • Consider any special needs for individuals with disabilities or the elderly.
  • Stay informed about changing weather conditions in and around your area.

If you or someone you know might need assistance during a disaster, please register for the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR), a free registry that provides local emergency planners and responders with additional information about needs in their communities. To register, contact 2-1-1 Texas, the state’s free 24-hour helpline. No matter where you live in Texas, you can dial 2-1-1 or (877) 541-7905 for community resources.

For more ways to prepare for the 2016 hurricane season, please visit: www.texasprepares.org.