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the ultimate guide to hurricane protection in the caribbean

The Ultimate Guide to Hurricane Preparedness in the Caribbean

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“Be Prepared”

Hurricane Preparedness is the central theme of the annual Atlantic Hurricane Season from June 1 to November 30. The Caribbean is one of the most hazard-prone regions in the world thus making preparedness extremely critical. When one thinks of hurricane preparedness, it’s often stocking up on food and securing windows just before a hurricane strikes.

However, as climate change continues to strengthen the intensity of hurricanes forming each year, hurricane preparedness is mandatory before the hurricane season even starts. In this guide, we delve into what it means to be holistically prepared for the hurricane season at each stage before a hurricane strikes. 

Familiarize yourself with your National Disaster Offices and Emergency Shelters

The National Disaster Office (NDO) in every island holds the responsibility of coordinating a multi-hazard response with respective authorities. National and Regional response is coordinated with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). Here are some offices within the islands:

  1. Antigua and Barbuda: National Office of Disaster Service 
  2. Barbados: Department of Emergency Management 
  3. British Virgin Islands: Department of Disaster Management 
  4. Dominica: Office of Disaster Management
  5. Grenada: National Disaster Management Agency 
  6. St. Lucia: National Emergency Management Organization
  7. St. Vincent and the Grenadines: National Emergency Management Organization

The NDO, Met Office, and Government Information Systems are usually the first points of credible information for activity in the Atlantic. Hurricane watches and warnings would be issued to the public, but they are often misunderstood:

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 or greater, or dangerously high water and rough seas) are expected in 24 hours or less (cdema.org) 

Persons residing in flood or disaster-prone areas must be aware of emergency shelters within the parish because evacuation may be necessary. 

Prepare a Checklist of Important Personal Items

When a country is impacted by a hurricane, the severity of the damage can result in the loss of buildings, utilities like water and telecommunications.

It is of utmost importance to ensure that you stock up on key items like food and toiletries. Here are some items to consider for your hurricane preparedness checklist:

  • Water: persons with families should have a gallon per person for at least three days for drinking and sanitation purposes. A water purification kit (tablets, bleach, chlorine (plain) and iodine) is also a good investment 
  • Food: a three-day to two-week supply of non perishable items should be stored in a cool place. A manual can opener is also essential
  • Baby formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream
  • Pet food and extra water for pets
  • Change of clothes with sturdy shoes
  • First aid kit, prescription medicine and non-prescription medicine like pain relievers
  • Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution
  • A portable, battery powered radio to stay tuned for pending updates
  • Flashlight 
  • Extra batteries to power devices
  • Cell Phone with charger and extra batteries – ensure the phone is fully charged before impact
  • Toiletries including feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Handy items like wrenches, pliers, garbage bags and plastic ties should also be added to your kit
  • Plastic sheeting can be used as shelter and held in place with duct tape. A sleeping bag and blanket should also be added
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Cash or traveler’s checks – electronic systems for credit cards may fail after an impact. Having an emergency supply of cash is advised. 
  • Matches kept in a waterproof container
  • Masks, soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces

Preparing your family for a hurricane

Preparing families for hurricanes is a critical factor in keeping children safe. There are many steps that can be taken to ensure the entire family is adequately prepared for an incoming hurricane.

An emergency plan must be developed, whereby each person is briefed on what to do through the different phases of a hurricane. Turning off gas, electricity, and water is a role each family member should have, and children should be knowledgeable of emergency numbers to call should something happen to parents.

Families living in flood or disaster-prone areas should plan to go to a hurricane shelter, and ensure to have as many items on the checklist as possible to be self-sufficient. If the family is separated, a plan to get back together must be developed. Here are some ways to plan for children during a hurricane:

  • Pack essentials like raincoats, masks, sanitizers, and medicine, especially given COVID-19 is now a factor.
  • Essential items like books, games, handheld and toys should be packed to keep children occupied. 
  • Ensure all devices are fully charged.
  • If your child is special needs know which shelters are accessible.

Preparing your home for a hurricane

In addition to preparing the members of your family and securing mandatory items on your checklist, the home must be prepared effectively given that it will be your first choice of shelter. Here are some hurricane preparedness tips for preparing your home:

  • Check into your Home and Auto Insurance: it is essential to review the extent of your coverage within your existing insurance policy for both the home and vehicle before impact
  • Trim branches from trees: if there are trees on or around your property that can fall on your home, ensure to trim them before the hurricane arrives.
  • Important documents must be stored in waterproof containers, or pictures should be taken of the papers to store them within the cloud of your device
  • Turn the refrigerator to the coldest settings and only open when it is necessary
  • Bring outdoor furniture like chairs inside, or anchor them safely outside from the wind. 
  • Store drinking water in clean jugs or bottles to ensure they remain safe for consumption 
  • Fuel the car in case you have to evacuate your home before an impact comes.
  • Invest in solutions to protect your windows and doors from impact

Preparing your business for a hurricane

Businesses stand to lose valuable documentation and other assets from hurricane damage. It is important to develop a plan specifically for businesses that factors in staff and property value:

A written hurricane preparedness communication plan is advised, alongside employee training for implementation. Before this is written consider the following:

  • Include plans for protection of plants and equipment
  • Develop a staffing policy that identifies which employees, if any, must be on site during a hurricane. A predetermined timeline of when employees must be onsite is necessary should telecommunication services be lost. 
  • All phases of hurricane must be accounted for: pre-season, hurricane watch, hurricane warning and after the hurricane. 

After preparation of a written communication plan, there are steps to be taken before a hurricane approaches:

  • Compile an emergency list with the contact numbers, addresses, and emergency contacts of employees, especially those assigned to remain onsite during a hurricane
  • Review insurance policies to ensure contents, records, and office equipment are covered 
  • Take account of all vital documentation like customer records and accounts receivable files. Make additional copies of these documents, secure them in waterproof storage, and store them above ground level and away from windows and walls. If possible, take photos of the documents to store them in the cloud of a device, on an external hard drive, or on microfilm. If the business is located in a disaster-prone area, consider storing documents off-site.
  • Check into facility maintenance to prepare the physical building as much as possible. This includes: 
    • Patching the roof and/or windows.
    • Checking security and floodlights.
    • Securing lightweight items around the property or moving them indoors.
    • Identifying emergency power options such as a generator, which should be tested frequently leading up to hurricane season.
    • Verifying if computers are needed during a hurricane and if so ensuring a laptop or another device is fully charged as back up.

Ensuring that external communications are operational

Lastly, a hurricane preparedness checklist of supplies for the business should also be purchased, clearly labeled, and stored in a secure area that staff is aware of. The checklist includes:

  • A battery-operated radio or TV: test the building’s reception before the hurricane
  • A flashlight for each person working during the hurricane.
  • Extra batteries for both radio and flashlights.
  • First-Aid kit.
  • Emergency tool kit, if necessary.
  • Non perishable food items and water supplies for staff assigned to the facility during the hurricane. Be sure to include needed utensils.

Preparing livestock for a hurricane

Farming in the Caribbean is without a doubt a necessary form of survival for individuals and families. For those rearing animals, a hurricane preparedness plan of action is needed to secure them. Here are some tips for effective preparation:

  • Evacuate livestock before a hurricane comes. If they cannot be evacuated, find solid shelter preferably on high ground or near a tree for cover. 
  • Ensure that the shelter is equipped with feed and hay (safe from water and wind), water and veterinary supplies. Should an animal be injured, a first aid kit would be handy. 
  • Smaller animals like rabbits could be kept indoors, wooden pens can be built to keep the animals in the garage
  • Only check on livestock after a storm has passed for personal safety

Securing your home and business

Hurricanes can result in significant destruction to homes and businesses. While persons tend to cover their windows with plywood, it is always safer to invest in fixtures that have been tested to withstand the strong winds and rains.

Talius offers a wide range of affordable hurricane protection products worthy of investment before and during the hurricane season. Each product can be tailored to the style of your property, and the range of choices allows you to decide on the look you want without compromising functionality. 

Rollshutters

At Talius Caribbean, our security rollshutters are crafted from resilient, durable aluminum. They are strong, secure, and durable thus creating a solid barrier between projectile objects on the outside and the contents of your property. They are retractable and are available with either a manual or motorized operation to ensure smooth, and convenient use. 

Colonial Shutters

Colonial shutters combine a decorative appeal, durability and superior weather protection. Both interior and exterior colonial shutters are created with multiple panels, allowing them to be operated individually  They are built to code and comply with the toughest standards, making them an excellent choice for hurricane-prone areas. 

Bahama Shutters

Our Bahamas shutters are the perfect additions to any property and are fitted with added security features, giving customers the best hurricane protection. The shutters can be quickly closed and secured without lifting or tools, which is effective when the weather changes. They are made out of the highest quality materials to provide year-round protection from extreme weather conditions

Accordion Shutters 

Accordion shutters are a popular form of hurricane protection, ideal for sliding glass doors, balconies, and windows. The cost effective component has caused a greater demand on the market, alongside the ease of operation for customers. This makes them suitable for both the young and the elderly. Our shutters are permanently installed to provide reliable protection. 

Hurricane Fabric 

An alternative to shutters that is worthwhile is Hurricane Fabric. Fabric storm panels have many advantages over traditional plywood or metal storm shutters, including:

  • Lightweight and easy to handle
  • Can be put up and taken down quickly
  • May fold or roll up for easy storage
  • Translucent material allows light to illuminate home

They consist of a strong, lightweight layer of woven fabric that is coated with a geo-synthetic PVC material. This reinforced material can be used to cover windows and doors, providing a barrier from flying projectiles and wind-blown rain in the strongest of tropical storms.

Talius Storm Panels 

For persons not looking to have a shutter system permanently installed on their property, Storm Panels are the ideal alternative as they can be removed and conveniently stored after a storm has passed. Our Storm Panels offer quick and reliable installation either horizontally or vertically. They’re easy to handle, easy to store, extremely strong, and they allow natural light to fill your living space while storm winds rage outdoors. Storm panels are less expensive than rollshutters, while still meeting all code and insurance requirements.

Clearly SAFE Panels 

Clear hurricane shutters are increasingly popular because they can be left on for the entire hurricane season. Business owners capitalize on this solution because the business does not appear closed in the last hours before the storm strikes. Clearly SAFE Panels are made from polycarbonate that has been proven to withstand impacts from debris without shatter, rust, or corrosion.

Generac Standby Power Generators

Our range of standby power generators by Generac offers confidence in knowing that your regular routine doesn’t need to come to a stop because of a power outage caused by hurricanes and storms. Standby power generators automatically start when there is a loss of power. Because it is automatic, you don’t have to leave the safety of your home to go outside and manually start a generator, where you’d be putting yourself at risk for injury or even death. Generac is a world leader in the portable and standby power generators systems.

2019 hurricane season

100 Years Later: 1919 Vs 2019 Hurricane Season

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With the 2019 Hurricane Season firmly in the rearview mirror, we are tempted to look back at previous years and compare data, but normally we only tend to compare a span of a few years, hoping to see trends that may help us to better predict the coming Hurricane Seasons. But what significant changes might we see if we did a head to head comparison of this last hurricane season with its predecessor 100 years ago?

read more
Talius Hurricane Shutter

Are We in the Caribbean Hurricane Ready

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The Caribbean islands are incredibly beautiful vacation destinations. Luxurious resorts and wonderful local vibes make it a great place for residents and tourists alike. However, recent hurricanes with record-breaking wind speeds have caused significant damage to the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean.

Last year, hurricanes Maria and Irma wreaked havoc on the Caribbean island. Buildings and homes in Dominica were damaged beyond repair and the entire island’s annual agricultural production suffered a huge loss.

Barbuda’s entire population was evacuated to Antigua and other islands. Findings revealed by the World Bank suggest that Irma led to losses equivalent to 14% of GDP for Barbuda and Antigua, and around 200% of GDP for Dominica. The growing occurrence of hurricanes poses great risks to the security of 40 million people living in the region and the island’s economic development.

Development institutions and the World Bank were prompt to act and provided support to evaluate losses and damages. However, there is a great need to focus on preparing the Caribbean island and building infrastructure that resist the effects of natural disasters and that can be called hurricane ready.

Government authorities are striving to protect the island from the disastrous effects of climate change.  Building more resilient infrastructures will definitely prove to be more cost-effective than continually rebuilding weak structures which can be destroyed by hurricanes and storms.

The architecture of a hurricane-proof building or home must feature systems that sustain the effects of a hurricane. The elements that require the most attention are doors, windows and roofs.

Glass doors and windows are also vulnerable to flying objects. Homeowners can choose impact-resistant glass. However, this is an expensive solution. Another way to protect your home or building is to cover the glass with storm shutters.

People living in the Caribbean should also pay special attention to secure doors and window frames. Residents should also ensure that all lightweight roofs are securely fastened to the walls.

How to Stay Safe during a Hurricane?

The best course of action to be hurricane ready is prevention. Investing in robust and durable shutters is a great way to protect your family and house. Make sure you install good quality hurricane shutters around your house well before the hurricane season starts.

Moreover, every household or a commercial building in the Caribbean must be equipped with a backup generator that powers through an outage. Talius provides all the basic amenities you need to survive the fury and devastation of a storm or hurricane.

A reliable and robust Generac generator meets the power demands of businesses and consumers alike. The brand is committed to manufacturing innovative designs and machines that are environmentally friendly. The automatic version comes in handy when you can’t go outside to turn it on manually, especially during a hurricane.

At Talius, we offer premium products so everyone in the Caribbean can protect their houses and buildings.

Final Thoughts

Don’t forget to stock up on other emergency supplies including protective clothing, water, food, medications, flashlights, tools and other important accessories to stay safe during a hurricane in the Caribbean.

 

hurricane making landfall

How to be Hurricane Prepared on a Limited Budget

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When it comes to hurricane preparedness, there are many things that you can do on a limited budget. Structural additions like rollshutters may not always be a feasible solution for a low-income family – even with financing options available for such purchases.

When a hurricane approaches, households across many Caribbean islands tend to go on a mad scramble to get supplies for their homes and themselves. In this article, we’ll look into some things you can do for cheap to prepare for the storm.

Buy a Crank Radio

Crank Radios are like conventional radios in every way except for the power source. As the name may suggest, crank radios are powered by turning a crankshaft, which charges a battery in the radio.

Conversely, there are also solar powered radios on the market as well, but without a light source, these radios will stop working. It is important to get a radio that you’ve tested the speakers, reception, and the rechargeable battery. Radios are important to have so you’ll be kept informed as to what is going with the storm and if the all-clear has been given.

Stock Up on Sale Items

grocery items

A popular hurricane preparedness tip is to stock up on canned goods and other non-perishable foodstuffs. However, you can buy the items you need over time and wait for them to go on sale. Overall, sometimes you can save anywhere between 10% and 40 % on some grocery items, and upwards of 25% on other items.

Plywood Sheets Vs. Storm Panels

hurricane preparedness storm panels

Firstly, it should be stated that plywood sheets over your windows are simply not an effective method of protection. There is one way but that requires some special equipment, which for those on a budget usually isn’t possible for financial reasons.

Using masking tape or duct tape across your windows is equally not a good idea, because if they are impacted by flying debris, the window will still be broken but instead of shattering, larger pieces of glass will remain, which can cause serious injuries or even death to those inside the house.

If aluminum rollshutters, Bahama or colonial shutters are not options, then we recommend using storm panels. Storm panels are made from extremely durable polycarbonate and represent the least expensive option of the permanent shutter systems. Storm panels are removable, so they don’t alter the aesthetic of the property. The downside is that they often require assistance in putting them up and can take around 20 minutes per window or door. When not in use, storm panels require storage but can be stacked for efficiency in space.

Request Hurricane Preparedness Items as Gifts

With Christmas and birthdays coming every year, it makes sense to ask friends and family to offer some inexpensive items for hurricane preparedness as gifts. It might seem a little tacky but it will save you money in the long run.

rollshutters residential

How to Create a Hurricane Safe Room

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Many people don’t think about creating a safe room in their home for the advent of a hurricane. While circumstances can leave some with few choices or no choice but to take refuge in a local hurricane shelter and can give others valid reasons to stay. Anyone who lives in a low-lying area that could be flooded by torrential rain, high tides, and/or overflowing rivers, lakes, and streams created by a hurricane should do everything possible to find a way to evacuate when authorities recommend it. Drowning, after all, is the main cause of death during a hurricane.

That being said, a home that is outside of potential flood zones and that has been built with hurricane-resistant techniques and materials may be a safer alternative for some than evacuating. For example, evacuating can be a stressful experience for elderly parents or grandparents, or it may be important for a family member with health problems to remain near the health care providers who are familiar with his or her treatment and healthcare history. In such cases, building a hurricane safe room in your home adds an additional layer of reinforced protection.

Hurricane Protection Starts With Your Home’s Exterior

Hurricane resistant building techniques include the use of fasteners to anchor each part of your home to every other part of your home. The roof should be anchored to the walls and the walls should be anchored to the foundation to resist the uplift created as hurricane-force winds blow over the house. The walls should be anchored to each other to resist the horizontal force of the winds.

Standard practice for protecting homes and businesses before a hurricane is to board the windows up with plywood. If you plan to shelter in place in your home, though, rollshutters are a safer, stronger alternative. Rollshutters eliminate the worry that the plywood may sell out before you are able to purchase it. They eliminate the need to purchase new sheets of plywood each time a hurricane approaches, and the need to purchase and store sheets of plywood in advance to avoid paying exorbitantly high prices for it as a hurricane approaches. Rollshutters also eliminate the need to place more nail holes in the exterior of your home.

Choosing Your Safe Room

Your safe room should be a small, centrally located room on the first floor of your home. It should not be on an outside wall, and it should have solid walls and a solid ceiling with no windows or skylights. You should have as many walls as possible between you and the wind and any wind-borne objects, small and large. Because you will need to stay in your safe room for a number of hours and you may need space for sleeping, experts recommend that hurricane safe rooms should provide 10 square feet of floor space per person who will occupy the room.

If your proposed hurricane safe room does have windows, the ideal solution is to install high quality, long-lasting, aluminum hurricane shutters.

Constructing Your Safe Room

Line the walls of your safe room with two layers of 3/4″ (1.905 cm) plywood, one with the grain running vertically and one with the grain running horizontally. For added protection, you can line the interior side of the plywood with Kevlar® or 14-gauge steel. If you nail this protective shell to a frame of 2” x 4” (5.08 cm x 10.16 cm) boards with the Kevlar® or steel facing the frame instead of the walls of your room, you can create a room within a room that has walls and a ceiling that is independent of the walls and ceiling of your home. Anchor the ceiling of this independent safe room to its walls, anchor the walls to each other, and then anchor the entire independent safe room within a safe room to the foundation of your home. Apply drywall to the side of the frame of two-by-fours that faces the interior of your safe room, and finish it as you choose.

Because you may need to remain in your safe room for multiple hours as the hurricane passes, you should install a ventilation system that exchanges air with the interior of your home at a rate of between 5 ft3/m and 15 ft3/m (cubic feet per minute) per person who will occupy the room. You will need to create an opening for that.

Finally, replace the door and doorjamb of your safe room with a stronger one. Choose a steel doorjamb and strengthen the wood in the wall surrounding the door with steel angle iron.

Choose a heavy steel door or heavy, solid wood, exterior door to replace the lighter weight interior door. Choose a door with a 2-inch (5.08 cm) deadbolt lock, or replace the door’s lock with a 2-inch (5.08 cm) deadbolt. Mount the hinges so that the door opens inward so that it cannot be blocked by debris.

Before you begin installing the lock and door handle, strengthen the wood around them with either a brass or steel strike plate. You can choose either a keyless deadbolt or one that uses a key. Install the deadbolt so that it locks from inside the room. A deadbolt lock that uses a key might be the safer option if you have young children because they could lock themselves in a safe room with a keyless lock. If you choose a deadbolt that works with a key, have two keys on hand and keep them in two different locations in your home.

In Closing, creating a hurricane safe room in your home can be the most economical solution to defending against the high winds, and projectiles caused by hurricanes. Our superlative hurricane shutters are the first choice for your hurricane protection needs.

bahama shutters

How Ready Is My Home For The Next Hurricane?

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Whether you’ve lived through a hurricane or just seen what it can do to other homes, you must be thinking about ways to protect yourself and your belongings. Some hurricanes are so powerful that all the efforts you make may be in vain. Thankfully, most of the storms don’t wipe the homes off the map. If you take the right measures, you can come through unscathed.

  1. Get The Right Shutters
Colonial Shutters for Hurricane Preparedness

Colonial Shutters

First and foremost, you have to think about not letting the storm into your home. The doors and windows are your first line of defense. If they fail, you can say goodbye to your belongings, electronics, and furniture. Shutters allow you to reinforce doors and windows to improve hurricane protection.

  • Rollshutters – These shutters offer strong protection for high-speed winds and flying debris. They slide out and retract in a few seconds, making your hurricane preparations easier.
  • Accordion Shutters – These hurricane shutters can be closed from the inside so if the strong winds catch you unaware, you can protect yourself without going outside. These shutters have a locking mechanism for extra security.
  • Bahama Shutters – These shutters have a sleek design. They don’t just offer storm protection, they can keep the bright sunlight out while letting the breeze in. They are easy to open and close.
  • Colonial Shutters – These shutters consist of several panels that fold out to cover doors or windows. They have hinges so there is no lifting or pulling included when you need to close them quickly. They are easy to maintain and have an attractive design.
  • Storm Panels – This is a cost-efficient alternative to other types of storm shutters. They are used to protect homes against severe hurricanes. They are easy to store but require certain skills and time for installation.
  • Hurricane Fabric – This fabric offers great protection from flying debris. It’s moderately priced and easy to install. The woven fabric has a special coating that provides rain protection.

 

  1. Check The Backyard and Patio

If you know that the storm is coming, you have to clean up the area around your home. Plastic chairs, glass tables, portable fire pits, dead branches, toys, and such things are a hazard to your home during a hurricane. Bring them inside.

Even before the storm comes, you can invite a professional to check out the trees in your yard. You may not notice but some of them are a hazard. Only healthy trees are acceptable for hurricane-prone areas.

  1. Think About Insurance

insurance for hurricane preparedness

No matter how hard you try to protect your property, nature may have other plans. Consider insuring your home against wind damage and flooding. Remember, not all homeowner insurance policies include these clauses.

  1. Buy A Simple Landline Phone Unit

In the modern world, not many people believe in the power of a simple landline telephone. However, this is exactly what you need when a hurricane brings power outage and mobile signal failures. A simple telephone that connects to a landline can save the day.

  1. Cover The Air Conditioning Unit

Another weak spot in your home is the outdoor air conditioning unit. When the debris starts flying, it will be under attack. Invest in a sturdy cover to keep the unit protected. Most of the manufacturers offer such products.

  1. Invest in Surge Protection and a Backup Generator

generator for hurricane preparedness

Power surges are just as common as power outages during a hurricane. There are many different ways to install surge protection in your home. You can either invest in built-in options or add a standalone protector to the electric panels.

A backup generator is also a good idea in case the power goes out. Even though the electric grid is built to withstand storms, it is usually affected nonetheless. Owning a generator can sometimes be pricey, but in the long run is worth it.