Safety Tips for a Hurricane

Photo Credit: Google

Photo Credit: Google

 

Hurricanes and tropical storms hit all areas near the Gulf coast and Atlantic ocean. You need to be prepared if you live in a susceptible area to survive a hurricane.

Defining a Hurricane

A hurricane is a tropical storm that can follow a path across the entire length of the barrier islands, coastal areas and eastern seaboard. It can cause high winds, torrential rains, storm surges and flooding over open water for up to 2 weeks or more. There are safety guidelines for hurricanes that FEMA has released.

Before a Hurricane

Consider constructing a safe room and secure your house. Protect your windows using permanent storm shutters or board them up with marine plywood. Also reinforce your roof to reduce damage by installing more clips or straps to securely fasten the roof to the frame structure. Invest in a Family Disaster Kit that is well stocked in case you lose power for several days. In case of flooding, protect items stored in the basement by elevating them, and clear clogged and loose rain gutters to avoid misdirected flooding. Trim shrubs and trees around your house and store water in large containers and in the bathtub to be used for cleaning and flushing toilets. Have some cash as ATMs may not work in case of power loss due to a hurricane. In case a hurricane is forecast to hit your area get more information about it from news updates and fill your vehicle tank.

During a Hurricane

Ensure that your home is secured by closing storm shutters and securing items that are outdoors such as lawn furniture or take them indoors as they can be destroyed or picked up by strong winds and cause injury. Turn off the electric and main house appliances. Also switch off propane tanks and only use the telephone in emergency situations. Follow the instructions of your local authorities and evacuate into shelters if told to do so. Evacuate if you live in mobile or temporary structures or in high rise buildings which are dangerous during hurricanes. Also evacuate if you live near a river, on the coast, on an inland waterway or on a floodplain. If not in a position to evacuate in a strong house, stay in your safe room. If you lack a safe room, stay in a closet, a small interior room, or the hallway on the lowest level. You can also lie on the floor under a table or another strong item.  Keep away from glass doors and windows. Also secure external doors and close all interior doors while keeping blinds and curtains closed. If the eye of the storm has passed, stay inside the house as winds can pick up again and develop into a hurricane.

Recovering from a Hurricane

Recovering from a hurricane is a gradual process.  Ensure that you are safe and take care of your physical and mental well-being.  You can find more information on rebuilding and recovery on the FEMA Web site.

 

Using Generators to Provide Power in Hurricanes

 

Photo Credit: Google

Photo Credit: Google

Weather experts have noticed changes in our weather patterns over the last year that reveals that a more turbulent hurricane season is on the way. Hurricanes have been known to cause very high and severe winds, along with hail, lightning and a lot of flooding. These conditions lead to power outages as power poles are taken down by high winds and power plants damaged. After hurricanes, power company personnel can take several weeks or months before fully restoring power. This is why we need generators to provide backup power. It is not just homes that need generators for power backup. Hospitals, retail stores and banks need generators too. The importance of backup power cannot be overemphasized during a hurricane as it can save the lives of many and make it more bearable to deal with the disaster.

 

There are several things to consider when thinking of buying and having a generator for back up:

 

Photo Credit: Google

Photo Credit: Google

  • Buy generators early.  Buying a generator early will cost you less than if you wait for the last minute after a hurricane has struck and you don’t have power.  This will ensure that you still have light to see in the dark, hot water for cleaning and showering, none spoilt food in the fridge and you can still watch TV and listen to the radio.
  • Ensure the generator has fuel.  A generator will only power your home if it has the appropriate fuel.  Some generators use diesel while others use gas.
  • You can buy new or used generators.  Depending on how much you can afford, you can buy a new or used generator to provide power in case of outages after a hurricane.
  • Install an automatic transfer switch.  If you can, install an automatic transfer switch that will automatically turn on your generator when you lose power in a hurricane and only cause little interruption.  Remember to keep your generator shielded and elevated to prevent floods from damaging it.
  • Diesel generators save fuel.  Diesel generators are good as they use half as much fuel as gas generators and therefore last longer.  Diesel generators are also easy to operate as they have no complicated wiring that needs to be maintained or replaced.  This helps in hurricanes as there is no time to waste when power is lost.  Diesel is also cheaper, safer and easier to store than gasoline.
  • Check your old generator.  If you have an old generator, check it during the beginning of each hurricane season.  Change the air filter, fuel filter and oil filter of your generator to ensure that it operates without any problems.
  • Follow safety guidelines.  It is very important to follow the safety guidelines given to you by the manufacturer of the generator.  You must never operate your generator indoors.  This is to help you avoid deadly gases from leaking from the generator and causing death.  Secure your generator outside if you are afraid of it being stolen.

 

What to do Before, During and After a Hurricane

Photo Credit: Google

Photo Credit: Google

The hurricane season is a difficult one for anyone and should be carefully planned for to protect yourself, your family and your essentials. There are some tips that need to be followed before, during and after a hurricane to ensure your safety:

Before the Hurricane

Have a plan on what to do in case of a hurricane.  If your house is far from a shelter centre but sound enough, designate a place where you and your family can seek shelter when a hurricane hits such as the basement.  Secure the house and protect the windows.  Buy a disaster supplies kit and ensure that the kit has medicine, water and non perishable food.  Fill clean containers with sufficient water to be stored and used for cleaning and flushing the toilet during the hurricane.

During the Hurricane

During a hurricane, stay in a safe area inside your house, such as in a closet on the lower ground, and keep away from glass doors and windows.  Avoid going outside even after the eye of the storm has passed, as the hurricane will come from the opposite direction.  This will protect you from flying debris.  Turn off electricity from the mains if your house starts to flood.  Also remember to switch off major appliances when power is lost to protect them from damage.  During a hurricane, stay away from electrical appliances and avoid using them.  Reduce the risk of being hit by lightening by not showering, bathing or using the phone.

After the Hurricane

More people die after a hurricane than during one because of going outside before it is safe to do so.  To minimize the risk of death, stay inside your house until specialized agencies tell you that it is safe to leave.  Only use the phone in case of an emergency and life threatening situation.  Under no circumstances should you touch or be in contact with low-hanging or fallen wires of any kind or touch water with wires near or in them.  Also avoid getting in contact with trees or objects that are in contact with power lines.  Hazards such as broken gas mains, overturned gas tanks and fallen power lines should be immediately reported to the police and utility companies.  Be vigilant about bridges, roads and porches that have been weakened and that could collapse without warning.  When power is restored, spoilt food from the fridge should be thrown away to avoid food poisoning.  Avoid using generators, propane camping stoves or charcoal grills indoors.

Using Public Shelters

Those who have nowhere else to go during a hurricane can stay at a public shelter.  News broadcasts will let you know of shelter openings.  Only opt for a shelter if you cannot stay with friends or relatives as shelters are not very comfortable places.  Take all the necessary documentation and necessities with you.  If you have special medical needs, go to special needs shelters only and take your caregiver with you if needed.