As we know, a hurricane is a massive storm system formed over warm waters that makes landfall. Hurricanes include potential threats such as powerful winds, heavy rainfall, flooding, rip currents, storm surges and inland landslides. In the Caribbean, hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th. Therefore, during that period of time, we are on extra alert.
Back in 2016, Hurricane Earl did serious damage to Belize and its neighboring islands like San Pedro and Caye Caulker. Though we did our best to prepare, Mother Nature was in full control. Thus far, we have gotten word that the 2018 Hurricane Season should be average with 14 named storms, 7 of which should develop into hurricanes and 3 out of the 7 to be major hurricanes – CAT 3 +. With that said, let’s discuss effective hurricane preparedness with a few tips below.
1.Know the risk of your area with hurricanes
2. Follow websites, Social Media Pages and local/international channels such as National Met Service of Belize,NEMO, Belize Red Cross, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the Weather Channel
3. NEMO usually provides a list of shelter locations
4. Look at potential threats for your area such as flash flooding and landslides
5. Reinforce the structure of your home – fix any loose fixtures, wires and infrastructure etc.
6. Keep updated with locations for shelters close by or ensure there is a safe room in your home
7. The best protection is a small, windowless room in a sturdy building on the lowest level not subject to flooding
8. Apart from following community evacuation plans, make your own
9. Familiarize yourself with your evacuation zone, route and location
10. Stock up on supplies and ensure that there is enough for at least three days. Be mindful of each person’s’ specific needs such as medication etc. Don’t forget your pets.
11. Keep personal documents and important files in a safe place or make digital copies saved.
12. Review insurance policies
13. Arrange your personal items in your home accordingly (Indoor and outdoor furniture etc)
14. If you evacuate from your home, ensure you leave it secured – all windows, doors and gates locked.
15. Ensure you have a fully-equipped emergency kit including first aid kit, flashlights, radio, water and non-perishable food items, batteries, fully charged mobile phones and a full tank of gas plus a reservoir in case of evacuation.
When you’re under Hurricane Warning:
1. Find safe shelter immediately and protect yourself from high winds and flooding
2. If a state of evacuation is issued, follow orders and leave
3. Take refuge in a designated storm shelter or a safe room
4. Listen for emergency information and alerts
5. Check in with family members and close friends
6. Determine how best to protect yourself from high winds and flooding
1. Tune in to local TV and radio stations for updates on the weather and emergency instructions
2. Check your emergency preparedness kit
3. Ensure to keep all mobile devices charged for communication purposes
4. Plan your evacuation route with your family and have a location set in mind
5. Fill your vehicle gas tank and stock the vehicle with emergency supplies
6. Bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building
7. Cover all your windows with either permanent or temporary storm shutters
During the Hurricane:
1. If told to evacuate, do so immediately
2. Stay in a low level, windowless , enclosed safe room that is not susceptible to flooding
3. If trapped in a building by flooding, go to the highest level of the building. Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising flood water
4. Listen for current emergency information and instructions
5. Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters
6. Stay off of bridges over fast-moving water
Post – Hurricane Safety:
1. Listen to local authorities for information and special instructions on the all clear
2. Be cautious and wear protective attire while cleaning up debris
3. Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off electricity at the main breaker or fuse box to prevent electric shock. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water
4. Avoid wading in flood water, which can contain dangerous debris
5. Save phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster
6. Document any property damage with photographs. Contact your insurance company for assistance
There you have it! Hurricane Preparedness 101! Take note of the above tips throughout the season. Have a safe 2018 Hurricane Season!