You know the story, the weather forecast puts out a hurricane warning and the store shelves are empty within two hours, but hurricane preparedness is much more than stocking up on extra food.
Hurricane Matthew is currently battering Haiti with 145mph winds, up to 175mph at the coast and seven deaths have so far been attributed to the storm. With Cuba and the Bahamas next in line and with the southeastern United States possibly in the firing line, how on earth do you prepare for such a force of nature?
Image credit: The Telegraph
The definition of a hurricane is:
1.a violent, tropical, cyclonic storm of the western North Atlantic, having wind speeds of or in excess of 72 miles per hour (32 m/sec).
Compare tropical cyclone, typhoon.
2. a storm of the most intense severity.
You can read the latest updates and projected path of hurricane Matthew at nhc.noaa.gov
Everyone in the family should know the plans you have made. Depending on where you live it may be a foregone conclusion that you will evacuate to friends, family or even a motel outside the strike zone. If this is your plan you need to leave in good time because plenty of people are going to have the same idea. getting stuck in a queue of traffic that stretches for miles is not going to do anyone any good and if that jam happens to be in the area that the hurricane is going to hit a car isn’t going to provide the protection you need. If you plan to leave you should have a full survival kit in your car. Just because you are fleeing a storm doesn’t mean you don’t have to account for mechanical problems with the vehicle or other incidents holding you up even if you are outside the danger zone. Keep the car radio tuned to a local station so you can keep abreast of traffic and weather conditions along your route.
If you are evacuating to a centre of some kind, often a stadium or school outside the danger zone you would be prudent to take the same kit as you were going to take if you were going to friends or family elsewhere. The amount of people in evacuation centres varies widely and having some of your own supplies with you can make a massive difference to your comfort levels. The familiarity of having things from home also reduces the stress levels for children.
In both cases you should have cash on you. If the power fails the ATM machines will be down.
When packing for any emergency remember that it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
A plan if you are staying in your home may seem pointless but that’s far from true. Most areas have an emergency/community plan for major weather events and you should familiarise yourself with the plan for your area. Keep a wind up radio, or a traditional radio and spare batteries and stay tuned in to a local weather station to keep up with the news regarding the storm and to enable you to know if an evacuation order has come into force.
Again you should have bags packed so you are ready to leave at a moments notice. Storms can and do change direction and just because you were safe at the start, it doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Keep the bags where you can grab them easily but be sure not to block escape routes should your home become unsafe.
You should chose the safest place you can find in your home if you are going to sit it out. You need to know your homes strong points and you need to be sure everyone in the family knows that you may be living in very close quarters for a little while.
Chose a room with as few outside walls and windows as possible. This is often the hallway and in houses at least it has the added benefit of allowing you to use the space under the stairs as part of your shelter. Equip your safe space with pillows and blankets, games and toys for the kids, flashlights and a radio as well as having your food and water supply close to hand in the same general area. If you have a table that you can easily move into the area do so, it gives you another layer of protection should a ceiling come down. As I said storms can and do change course. Should you find yourself in that situation and know you can’t make it out consider removing a few doors and leaning them against the side of the stairs for extra protection against possible falling debris. many people die from crushing injuries and a door at an angle affords decent protection.
Preparing your home is of prime importance:
A massive force of nature such as a hurricane is one of the most serious events we can face. As with most emergencies preparation is key regardless of whether you evacuate or sit it out.