How To Survive A Hurricane
A hurricane is one of Mother Nature’s most deadly creations, but with some preparation and diligence, it is possible for people to survive even the worst of these storms.
A hurricane is a severe tropical cyclone. It comes with heavy winds and rains that move at 12 on the Beaufort scale, or between 73 and 136 knots. That’s 74 miles (or 119 km) per hour!
Prepare In Advance
Your best chances of survival is to prepare beforehand, and the first step is to determine whether you live in a hurricane-prone area. Contact the local authorities (such as FEMA and NOAA) to determine the history of hurricanes in your country.
On top of that, you should also ask them where the nearest evacuation centers in your area are and the various routes on how to access them.
Once you have these details, map out emergency routes that you and your family should take from various points you frequent. For instance, you should know the routes from your home, office, school, and so on, to the nearest evacuation center.
Next, you should assemble a disaster kit. This includes all your necessities for survival during and after the hurricane. If you need to evacuate, these items should already be stored in a sturdy easy-to-carry, waterproof bag such as a mountaineering backpack.
Here is a list of the basic items you need in the kit:
- Non-perishable, lightweight food (enough to at last three days at least)
- Potable water (again, three days’ worth is recommended)
- First aid kit, with medication for specific conditions (periodically check and replace any expired medication)
- Self-powered radio, or a regular one, but stock up on extra batteries
- Flashlights (ideally waterproof) with extra batteries
- Cell phone with charger and extra batteries
- Extra cash
- Important documents (such as insurance policies, birth certificates, deeds, and so on)
A practical preventive measure that you can do when there is a hurricane coming is to trim your trees and bushes. This will prevent the dead limbs from flying off and breaking your windows and/or hit someone and cause serious injuries.
Make A Survival Plan
You may also want to invest in a gas-powered portable generator (like the ones used for camping trips) and stock enough fuel to last a couple of days. It is possible that a strong hurricane will knock out the power in your area; having a generator will ensure that your important electrical appliances (like your refrigerator) will keep on working.
Consider installing permanent storm shutters and constructing a “safe room” where you and your family can stay in during the storm. If you cannot have storm shutters, tape and board up your windows. It also helps to hire a contractor to reinforce your doors and roof. These installations will not only potentially reduce any damages on your house, but also provide you with better shelter in case you are unable to evacuate.
Keep your vehicles fully fueled at all times so that you will have no problems transporting yourselves and your supplies to the nearest evacuation center.
You must train all family members on how to exercise these preventive measures. This includes shutting off the water, electricity, and gas before the hurricane strikes. This will prevent any possible disasters in case the hurricane damages these lines.
By practicing drills, you can even identify and address any potential setbacks.
Implement Evacuation Plan Under Following Circumstances
If reports show that a hurricane is coming your way, the best course of action is to evacuate at once.
You should evacuate if you live in: a flood-prone area, on an inland waterway or on a coast, in a mobile home or other temporary structure, or in a high rise building. You must evacuate as well if you are instructed by local authorities.
The evacuation plan itself must be quick and easy to follow. Ensure that all family members learn the plan by heart on sunny days so that there will be no moment of hesitation.
Here is a basic evacuation plan I would recommend to survive a hurricane:
First, grab your bug out bag and then leave the home quickly. You and your family’s lives are the top priority here, so do not lose a single second to look back at your other belongings.
Next, travel to your nearest community shelter. Listen to the radio to receive updates from the local authorities. You may be informed that certain routes are blocked, so be prepared to take alternative routes to the evacuation center.
In case of a life-threatening emergency, immediately call an emergency helpline.
Surviving the Storm In Case You Are Unable to Evacuate
If you were unable to evacuate when the hurricane strikes, it helps to move methodically so as to increase your chances of survival. Here are the steps to take in the worst case scenario:
Shut off all utilities, especially your gas and electricity.
Then, close your doors and windows. Hopefully you have already installed storm shutters as these will add fortification to your home.
Proceed to your safe room, ideally on the highest floor in your home. This should be were you have stored all your basic supplies. Close all the doors and windows.
While in the safe room, stay away from all glass doors and windows. If possible, lie on the floor beneath a sturdy table or take refuge in an interior closet.
While waiting for the hurricane to pass, avoid using your phones unless it is an emergency. You need to conserve your batteries to call for help if necessary.
Listen intently to the radio for updates. Do not leave your safe room until the local authorities broadcast the official approval.
Take care not to go outside, especially within half an hour after the storm has passed. The roads will be littered with debris, electrical wires, flooded areas, and other hazards. Make safety the top priority and stay away from them.
Avoid turning on the electricity and gas connections until after you have surveyed and addressed the damages. The water system should also be kept shut until you have the assurance that your septic systems are undamaged or repaired.
After the hurricane has passed, the rebuilding process follows. This takes time and effort, but regardless of the damage the best way to approach it is methodically.
First make a list of all the damages for insurance claims. Take pictures and videos, then store all the documentation, including receipts, of your repairs.
If your home has been completely damaged by the hurricane, contact your insurance company immediately. If your basement is flooded, do not even try to bail out the water using buckets; floodwater is teeming with sewage and deadly bacteria. Just contact your local water damage repair contractor so they can use their pumps to get rid of the stagnant water. It is also a good idea to have them inspect the extent of the flood damage.
Immediately disinfect all areas of your home and throw away anything that you suspect came in contact with floodwater. Clean and repair as much as you can to prevent further damage.