Handling a Hurricane; Part 2 - Preparing for and Surviving an Approaching Hurricane
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Handling a Hurricane;
Part 2 - Preparing For and Surviving
an Approaching Hurricane
Part 1 of this article some of the characteristics of
hurricanes and the damage they can cause. In the days before
high tech weather forecasting, well organized emergency
services, and mandatory evacuation, major hurricanes resulted
in death tolls in the hundreds, if not thousands.
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Most deaths, much property damage, and significant financial loss
are all preventable with sensible forward planning and early
action. Let's have a look at how you can protect yourself, your
family, and your property if a hurricane crosses the coast in your
The North American hurricane season starts on June 1st,
reaches a peak in August and September, and
fades out over the next two months. This doesn't mean
that major hurricanes won't occur before or after the
peak - July 2005 set new records for early hurricanes.
Unlike a tornado, a hurricane can be monitored and
tracked for some time before its final landfall or decay.
If you are a resident or visitor in a target area you will
normally have considerable warning of hurricane's approach,
and time to safeguard your home or prepare for evacuation.
But the best time to start preparing is before the threat
is visible. You can do this by
Insuring your house and property to the maximum
extent possible. An up to date inventory of your
possessions is a smart move.
Storing important documents and valuable
possessions in a secure place away from your home.
Checking with your local emergency co-ordinators
on the risk of storm surges and flooding, and
assessing your risks of damage from strong winds.
Preparing for evacuation if you live in a high
risk coastal area. Familiarize yourself with
evacuation routes, and put together an emergency
kit which you can grab at short notice if you
need to leave.
Owning a battery operated Weather Radio. This will
provide you with warnings about the storm's location
and time and location of landfall, and will also
advise when the crisis has passed.
Considering strengthening your roof against lifting
by severe winds - options include roof strapping or extra
You may also consider reinforcing an internal room
as a safe room, a practice recommended for tornado
prone areas. A bathroom on the lower level of your
house may be ideal, and would provide last resort protection
for you and your family against destructive winds.
Preparing an emergency kit in case you lose power
and water during the hurricane. This should contain
basic food supplies, water, torches and battery operated
radios, a portable bottled gas stove, and anything else
that will make life a little more bearable.
Obviously most of the components of your kit will be
somewhere around the house, but imagine how much
easier it will be if everything you need is in the
one place when the lights go out.
When A Hurricane Is Approaching
Listen out for hurricane watches, warnings and
special bulletins on Weather Radio, normal radio and TV.
A Hurricane Watch (which also covers slightly less severe
tropical storms which can develop into hurricanes) means
hurricane conditions are possible in the next 36 hours.
Check for updates on radio, TV, or the internet.
A Hurricane Warning means a hurricane is expected
within 24 hours.
Put up storm shutters and secure firmly. Don't bother
with taping windows - it won't help and it's no fun to
remove when the threat has passed
Secure all outdoor and garden furniture - store
in an enclosed area.
Evacuate if advised, or if you are threatened
by flooding or storm surges, if you live in a mobile
home or high rise, or if you feel unsafe. Leave as soon
as you can. Turn off power, gas and water if advised.
If you are staying, assume power and water may
be cut. Fill your bathtub and other containers with water,
turn your refrigerator to its coldest setting and keep the
door closed, and turn off propane gas.
During a Hurricane
Stay inside. The main dangers are flying
debris and downed power lines. Listen to Weather
Radio, and don't go outside until the hurricane
has passed. If the eye passes over you, a deceptive
period of calm will be followed by the return of
strong winds and heavy rain.
Secure all doors and windows, close off
windows with curtains or blinds, and close all internal
At the peak of the hurricane, go to a safe room
on lower floor - lie or crouch under a sturdy table or
other piece of strong furniture.
With a little good fortune, these fairly simple
precautions should get you through the hurricane safely.
You will have done well, and will emerge healthy and fit
enough to tackle the inevitable clean up. Good luck.
But always remember that hurricanes are short lived and
are only likely to be a threat for a small part of the year.
Think of them as an occasional tax to be paid for the
benefits of an otherwise pleasant climate.
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