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:
- Antigua and Barbuda: National Office of Disaster Service
- Barbados: Department of Emergency Management
- British Virgin Islands: Department of Disaster Management
- Dominica: Office of Disaster Management
- Grenada: National Disaster Management Agency
- St. Lucia: National Emergency Management Organization
- 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
- 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.