Hurricane Preparation and Survival
Do you know how to prepare to survive a hurricane? Well, you'd better because your life may depend on it. Read this page. Absorb the information. Print it out and follow the guidelines. Hurricanes are serious and you should be too.
Hurricanes are storms that may get up to 600 miles wide with speeds from 74mph-200mph. Because these weather systems carry a lot of rain and can last for over a week, flooding is often a major problem. In fact, the storm surges that may accompany a hurricane can also lead to disasters such as landslides and mudslides. As a result, preparation is critical for survival and evacuation is always a possibility.
Globally, there are two recognized periods for hurricanes (referred to as "hurricane seasons"). These are:
- June 1-November 30 for the Atlantic hurricane season.
- May 15-November 30 for the Eastern Pacific hurricane season.
It is important to know which one affects you both at home and in locations you are likely to travel to for work or vacation. It is also important to conduct drills with loved ones to ensure everyone knows what to do in the event that you:
- Have to evacuate
- Are caught in the storm while away from home
- Become separated from each other
- Are injured and/or must administer first aid
- Must endure hurricane conditions for a prolonged period
Contact lists must be updated with emergency numbers and the numbers of family members and friends. These lists should be stored safely with other important documents (see "Safeguarding Emergency Supplies" below). An updated list of nearby shelters including their addresses, contact details and the names of key staff/team members must also be kept.
Hurricane Watch vs. Hurricane Warning
Once a hurricane becomes an imminent threat, multiple weather sources will start providing updates from as early as 72 hours before it hits. A hurricane watch starts 48 hours before an expected hurricane while a hurricane warning is issued 36 hours before.
Depending on how rapidly a system develops, you may be at a severe disadvantage if you wait until a warning is issued to start preparing. Instead, the last 36 hours should be used to finalize preparations.
Hurricane Survival List
As you prepare for a hurricane, ensure that you have an inventory of the following:
- - Flashlight, camping lamps, portable radios, and batteries. Candles and matchboxes or a lighter may be necessary.
- - A first aid kit that is adequate for the number of persons in your family.
- - All important documents properly grouped and labeled.
- - Recent photographs of each member (ensure faces are clear).
- - Cash and/or check leaves since ATMs and point of purchase terminals may be unavailable for some time.
- - Clothing, rain gear, blanks, towels, and sheets.
- - Insect repellent.
- - Pens, pencils, stationery, and other school supplies .
- - Pet supplies, where applicable.
- - At least three days worth of canned and dried food items as well as canned and bottled juices (this should be per person).
- - One gallon of bottled water per person, per day. Where possible, try to reserve at least two weeks of water per person (this would equal 14 gallons of water per person).
- - Tarps, hammer, nails, handsaw, work gloves, axe, pliers, screwdrivers, work knife and other small repair tools/supplies.
- - Grooming supplies (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, bleach, tissue, paper towels/towelettes, trash bags, shampoos, conditioners, and cleansers).
- - Sanitary napkins/tampons and other feminine hygiene products.
- - At least two additional weeks of necessary medication (including prescriptions, allergy medicine and rescue inhalers) for each person.
Safeguarding Emergency Supplies
Documents, stationery supplies, dried foods in boxes and items that may become wet should be placed in plastic bags for protection. If available, waterproof bags should be used. However, if waterproof bags are not available, use multiple trash bags or other types of plastic bags (ensure they do not have holes or tears).
Additionally, it is best to secure documents in tamper-proof bags. Documents include birth records, marriage certificates, banking and school records, travel documents, insurance policies as well as any contract, deeds or titles. Family photographs should also be safeguarded.
Hurricane Preparation for Survival
Before the season starts, consider the following:
1. Installing (and maintaining) storm shutters.
2. Inspecting your home and correcting any damages found (e.g. leaking roof and windows, blocked drains, broken windows etc.).
3. Trimming or removing trees that may interfere with power lines. Special attention should be given to those that may block an escape route or damage building and equipment if they fall.
4. Buying a standby generator if you do not already have one.
5. Stockpiling fuel for the standby generator and vehicles.
6. Acquiring a backup power supply for your burglar alarm. Where you already have one, test it to ensure it works and replace it if it does not.
Once a hurricane watch starts (or immediately after a warning is issued):
1. Fasten outdoor furniture and equipment, or bring them indoors where possible.
2. Draw shutters and batten down areas that are not being used (this reduces the number of places to secure as the system draws nearer).
3. Within six to 12 hours of the hurricane:
- Cover furniture as necessary.
- Consider moving some furniture and appliances to higher areas or places that are unlikely to get wet.
- Unplug whatever can be unplugged.
- Keep emergency items close.
4. Follow evacuation orders where applicable.
During a Hurricane
1. Listen to weather updates.
2. Reserve fuel, batteries (including electronics) and all other supplies as best as possible.
3. Where you opted not to evacuate, be prepared to evacuate as long as it is safe to do so. Failure to seize the final opportunity to leave may prove catastrophic.
4. Stay indoors and away from windows. Also, avoid the use of electricity or anything else that may prove hazardous unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.
If you must evacuate, use the safest route and stick together. A sound evacuation plan will ensure that each person knows what to do if separated, so everyone should stick as closely to the plan as possible. The youngest and most vulnerable of the group should be protected as much as possible. While at a shelter, keep belongings as safe.
After the hurricane, immediately check to ensure everyone is okay (this is necessary if the group became separated). Where there are injuries or missing loved ones, treat each injury according to its severity and start the search process. Also, be prepared to clean up, replenish supplies and submit the necessary insurance claims.