City of Houston Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Encourages Houston Residents to Take Advantage of the Emergency Preparation Tax-Free Weekend

HOUSTON – Every year in late April, the State of Texas waives sales tax on some items that make up a family’s emergency kit.  As part of it’s ongoing effort to see Houston more prepared and resilient for the next emergency, including flooding, hurricanes, and terrorism, the City of Houston Office of Emergency Management (OEM) encourages residents to take advantage of this weekend’s sales-tax exemption to stock up on much-needed disaster preparedness supplies.

“This initiative provides Houstonians a great opportunity to stock up before the next emergency,” said Rick Flanagan, Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Houston, “As we head into the most active part of our spring storm season, and look towards hurricane season, it’s important that we start planning and stocking up now.”

Qualifying Tax-Free Items

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts website has a detailed list of items that are eligible for tax-free purchase this weekend.  In addition, OEM has developed a one-page shopping list to help residents take advantage of the exemption, and includes other items that, while not exempt from taxes, are useful to have in disasters. Download the shopping list as a PDF from the OEM website at

These emergency preparation supplies qualify for tax exemption if purchased for a sales price:

Less than $3000

  • Portable generators

Less than $300

  • Emergency ladders
  • Hurricane shutters

Less than $75

  • Axes
  • Batteries, single or multipack (AAA cell, AA cell, C cell, D cell, 6 volt or 9 volt)
  • Can openers – nonelectric
  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • Coolers and ice chests for food storage – nonelectric
  • Fire extinguishers
  • First aid kits
  • Fuel containers
  • Ground anchor systems and tie-down kits
  • Hatchets
  • Ice products – reusable and artificial
  • Light sources – portable self-powered (including battery operated)
    • Examples of items include: candles, flashlights and lanterns
  • Mobile telephone batteries and mobile telephone chargers
  • Radios – portable self-powered (including battery operated) – includes two-way and weather band radios
  • Smoke detectors
  • Tarps and other plastic sheeting

These supplies do not qualify for tax exemption:

  • Batteries for automobiles, boats and other motorized vehicles
  • Camping stoves
  • Camping supplies
  • Chainsaws
  • Plywood
  • Extension ladders
  • Stepladders
  • Tents
  • Repair or replacement parts for emergency preparation supplies
  • Services performed on, or related to, emergency preparation supplies

Preparing Now

The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1 and runs through November 30th.  Although researchers indicate that this year will be an “average” year for the number of hurricanes, it’s important to remember that It Only Takes One to cause massive damage, injuries and loss of life, so it’s important to be ready.

Staying aware of emergency conditions can save your life. Houston residents can register for AlertHouston to receive timely notices about emergencies in Houston.  Visit to register for this free service.

Preparedness Resources

OEM also produces the City’s Disaster Preparedness Guide, which walks residents step-by-step through the emergency planning process.  These are available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Arabic*, and French*, and can be ordered by calling 311 (VRS: 711 – 713.837.0311), or downloaded online at

*Arabic and French versions of the guide are only available as downloads at