The truth can not only set you free; it can keep you alive. As with any natural phenomenon, myths abound. Some of the ones about hurricanes can kill you. If you believe an old fable and fail to take precautions, you may lose your home and your life. That’s why it’s so important to know what’s really true. Here are some of the most common myths about hurricanes and then the real truth.
1. Myth: All Hurricanes form off the African Coast and give us a week’s warning. Truth: While it is true that weathercasters can often see the beginnings of tropical depressions clear across the Atlantic, many others spring up in the Gulf of Mexico or in the Caribbean with as little as 48 hours notice. If you live in a hurricane zone, listen to the forecasters daily.
2. Myth: Keeping your windows open on the side of the house that faces the wind will allow your house to withstand the hurricane force. Truth: Baloney! Doing that will allow high pressure suctioning force to come in, blow out your roof. wall supports, etc. Even the Three Little Pigs knew that the only safe thing was to keep the huffing and puffing out. Ditto for hurricanes.
3. Myth: Taping up your windows will save them. Truth: Tape – which then has to be cleaned off of intact windows – is a waste of time. Boarding up windows so that they’re completely covered or installing hurricane shutters can save your windows in lower category hurricanes.
4. Myth: No need to listen to the radio because county rescuers will come get me if need be. Truth: If you don’t follow the initial evacuation orders, you may be on your own because once the storm hits, rescue teams aren’t going to venture out either. And the less able-bodied you are, the sooner you should leave.
5. Myth: Sandbags can’t be re-used. Truth: Sure they can if they’re dry and intact. Be sure to keep them inside in a shed or garage in between storms so they won’t deteriorate.
6. Myth: Old bottled water is safe. Truth: If is commercially bottled, then it’s good as long as it’s sealed. But, if it’s water you filled from the tap, you need to use it within two weeks. However, you can always use questionable water for flushing toilets, watering plants, and bathing.
7. Myth: Hurricanes are devastating so it’s useless to prepare. Truth: Just look at the film footage of an area hit by a hurricane and you’ll see some houses that are standing next to ones that are ruins. Preparing your house gives it its best shot of survival.
8. Myth: I’ll be safe from the storm and storm surge on a higher level floor. Truth: The wind force will be more damaging the higher up you are, and any storm surge could leave you isolated with no way for emergency teams to reach you.
9. Myth: I’ve prepared my mobile home and have it tied down. I’ll be fine here. Truth: Remember the imagery from Wizard of Oz? Mobile homes are never safe. You’ll take flight along with Dorothy and Toto.
10. Myth: I rode out the last hurricane and several tornadoes this year. I should be safe. Truth: Every storm, even those with the same velocity winds is different. Where one may spare your home, another may level it. Be safe and evacuate when ordered to do so.
11. Myth: There will be water and food available after the storm so I don’t need to stock up. Truth: Electricity and food deliveries may be weeks away. You need to stock up in advance of the storm.
12. Myth: The weather is beautiful today. I’ll just wait. Truth: Weather can change so quickly you may get caught and the roads may be too crowded to leave town. Follow the evacuation orders when they are given.
13. Myth: My pets can fend for themselves if I leave them. Truth: If they wind up outside or are left stranded, they’ll probably die. Take them with you and make plans to go to a shelter that takes pets.
14. Myth: A generator will supply my electrical needs. Truth: It may dangerously interfere with commercial lines by re-energizing them and causing harm to the workers.
These are just a few of the common myths about hurricanes. Of course, there are the ones out there that say that Global Warming is the culprit – NOAA says global warming may have a slight effect but it’s not the cause. And then there are those that say that hurricanes are caused by God to punish mankind for everything from not spanking their children to homosexuality. You’ll have to figure that one out on your own. Whatever your beliefs as to cause, there are widely-agreed upon precautions to reduce damage and save lives. Be a truth believer, not a myth believer and be safe.