Hurricanes are known as “the greatest storms on Earth”. They can create tremendous amounts of damage to towns and cities as well as cause the loss of human life. It is important to be prepared ahead of time, especially when living in areas traditionally hit hardest by hurricanes. Planning ahead may mean evacuating an area before an impending hurricane ever arrives. However, as Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, reminded the world, everyone is not always able to evacuate even when it is suggested by local authorities. This article looks at some of the best practices for surviving a hurricane.
Planning Ahead for the Possibility of a Hurricane
Individuals and families should sit down and map out a specific hurricane plan that includes types of hazards to the particular home or structure, location of safe rooms or areas in the home, mapped out escape routes and meeting places for family members, a pet plan, and posting emergency numbers in the home. A survival kit that includes important items like water, non-perishable food and emergency items like flashlights and batteries, toiletries, and seasonal clothing, etc. is another must have when planning ahead for the possibility of a hurricane. Proper planning can help to save lives.
What to Do During an Actual Hurricane
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Act (FEMA)have websites that offer excellent tips for increasing one’s chances of surviving through a hurricane.
FEMA points out some specific situations where evacuation is really the best possible option. They are as follows: living in a mobile home or a high-rise building, living along the coastal floodplain or river, or if one feels that they are in imminent danger.
If it is not possible to evacuate an area being hit by a hurricane or if evacuation has not even been suggested by local authorities there are some specific things that need to be done:
- Stay indoors and away from glass windows and doors. Keep window coverings closed. It is also very important to close all the doors inside the home and secure and brace any doors leading outdoors.
- Secure the home by closing storm shutters and securing outdoor objects like bicycles, patio furniture, gardening tools, etc., or bringing them into the house. Turn off utilities to decrease the likelihood of electric shock in the case of flooding. FEMA also suggests that propane tanks should be turned off and land-line phones should be off limits (except in the case of an emergency.)
- Quickly fill bathtubs with water keeping small children away from these rooms. Water will be needed for more purposes than just drinking. It will also be needed for sanitary purposes such as hygiene and flushing the toilet.
- Stay tuned in to the television or radio for weather updates. The NOAA offers a radio that allows individuals to tune in 24 hours a day, seven days a week to a nationwide network of radio stations which broadcast continuous weather information. (Batteries should be changed every six months.)
- During the most violent portions of the hurricane, take refuge in a small room, closet, or hallway in the interior and lowest level of the home. If this is not possible, lie under a strong table or other sturdy object.
- Stay calm even though the situation may be quite frightening.
What to Do Immediately After a Hurricane
Once a hurricane has ended, life can seem to have been turned upside down. There are, however, some specific things to keep in mind:
- Check for injuries and only use the phone to call authorities for life-threatening emergencies.
- Stay tuned to a battery powered radio for continuous weather coverage and local updates.
- Stay off the street if possible. If this is not possible be on the alert for fallen objects, downed electrical power lines, and walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks that are in a weakened condition and in danger of collapse.
- Watch out for wildlife, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris to help avoid being startled.
- Contact insurance company.
Being knowledgeable about the best practices for survival and staying calm and level-headed during a natural disaster such as a hurricane can help to save not only the individual’s life, but the lives of those around them as well. Be prepared.