Hurricanes are one of the hazards we face living in the Caribbean. Hurricanes can be very dangerous so it is important to listen to the advisories issued by the local Government and plan ahead to reduce the chances of injury or major property damage. The Hurricane Season runs from June to November each year.
Watches and Warnings
A hurricane watch is issued when there is a threat of hurricane conditions within 24-36 hours.
A hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions (winds of 74 miles per hour (119 km/h) or greater, or dangerously high water and rough seas) are expected in 24 hours or less.
BEFORE THE STORM:
* Find out where the nearest Emergency Shelter is located. For a list of shelters click here: http://dem.gov.bb/index.php/emergency/shelter
* Have disaster supplies on hand including:
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Non-perishable (canned food) and water
- Non-electric can opener
- Essential medicines
- Cash and credit cards
- Sturdy shoes/boots
* Protect your windows
Permanent shutters are the best protection. A lower-cost approach is to put up plywood panels. Use 1/2 inch plywood–marine plywood is best–cut to fit each window. Remember to mark which board fits which window. Pre-drill holes every 18 inches for screws. Do this long before the storm.
* Trim back branches from trees
Trim branches away from your home and cut all dead or weak branches on any trees on your property.
* Check into your Home and Auto Insurance
Confirm that policies are valid and coverage is appropriate.
* Make arrangements for pets and livestock
Pets may not be allowed into emergency shelters for health and space reasons. Contact your local humane society for information on animal shelters.
* Develop an emergency communication plan
Make sure that all family members know what to do. Teach family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water. Teach children how and when to call police or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information. In case family members are separated from one another during a disaster (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together.
DURING A HURRICANE WATCH:
* Listen to the radio or television for hurricane progress reports.
* Check emergency supplies including any necessary medications.
* Fill up car with fuel.
* Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys, and garden tools and anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.
* Secure buildings by closing and boarding up windows.
* Remove outside antennas and satellite dishes.
* Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Open only when absolutely necessary and close quickly.
* Store drinking water in clean jugs, bottles, and cooking utensils.
DURING A HURRICANE WARNING:
* If you need to evacuate your home, lock up home and go to the nearest shelter.
* Take blankets and sleeping bags to shelter.
* Listen constantly to a radio or television for official instructions.
* Store valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container on the highest level of your home. You can also store important papers inside of an empty locked dishwasher.
* Stay inside, away from windows, skylights, and glass doors.
* Keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy. Avoid open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light.
* If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce power “surge” when electricity is restored.
AFTER THE ALL CLEAR IS GIVEN:
The Government will issue an all clear when the Storm/Hurricane has passed. However, there will likely be fallen power lines, debris etc so you must be extremely careful when going outside. Watch out for secondary hazards, fire, flooding, etc.
Wear boots and gloves when cleaning up debris. Do not drink the tap water immediately after a hurricane as there may be contaminants in it. Make sure to boil the water first!
If your home gets damaged and needs repairs, make sure you keep all your receipts if you hire a contractor or handyman. Contact your insurance company promptly to report of any damage. Take photographs of the damage.