Hurricanes come on very quickly and bring with them torrential rain, strong wings, immediate flash floods and devastation wherever they go. So if you live in an area that is a hurricane hotspot, it’s important to know what to do in a hurricane. Knowing how to survive a hurricane is essential during hurricane season. Here we’re diving right into the eye of the storm, giving you the best tips to stay safe before, during and after the hurricane hits.
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What Exactly Is A Hurricane?
A hurricane is actually one of the natural disasters that forms part of the tropical cyclone family. You are more at risk from these kinds of storms if you live near a coastal area. This is because they form over parts of the ocean that are warmer than other. As the hot and wet air rises up, the pressure between the warmer ocean water and the cool clouds starts creating a circular current that then spins and grows into the storm.
Once the hurricane then hits the mainland, the first places that will be targeted are coastal towns and cities. Hurricanes like Katrina in New Orleans back in 2005 cost millions for the US government and devastated the town and lives.
The amount of destruction this storm can do all rides on how intense it is. There are also other factors like how far people are warned in advance, the presence of structural defences such as seawalls and other structures in the area that can affect how much damage is done.
Survival Tips For Before The Hurricane Hits
Create your hurricane survival kit
Before hurricane season even happens, it’s vital to make sure you have a hurricane survival kit ready. This should be full of all the food and water plus other essentials you will need in the days to follow after the storm. Things like flooding and downed power lines can stop you from leaving shelter, which is why a hurricane survival kit is key for disaster planning.
Whether there is a hurricane on the radar or not, having your aid kit on hand at all times can really help with hurricane survival. Think about what essentials you will really need if you are left alone with no power, no food and no water for days. Here’s some items you may want in your hurricane kit that should offer you some help for at least a few days.
- A crank radio – Batteries run out and because of the flash flooding during a hurricane, they are more than likely going to get wet and become useless. Having a crank radio means you can manually power the device and listen for any special broadcasts about the community and when it’s safe to leave shelter.
- A walkie-talkie – Power lines and phone signals often go down in a hurricane happens. Having a walkie-talkie allows you to keep in touch with others in your building, as well as being able to share what is happening during the storm with others.
- A source of light – You may end up without any sort of power because of the flood water, so you need to think of some way that will provide light. Try and prevent sitting in the dark as much as possible.
- A basic first aid kit – Injuries happen during hurricanes. Have a basic set of first aid items on hand, and any special medications you will need to last a few days.
- Essential rations – Food and water will become scarce in the first few days after a hurricane. Going out for a quick explore and search for food may not be a possibility during the storm. So stock up on the food rations you need in your shelter and make sure there is enough to share with all of the company you will have during the storm.
- Flotation devices – This is particularly important if you have young children or people who can’t swim as part of your company in the shelter. Flood water rises quickly and becomes very deep. People who aren’t good swimmers won’t survive the flooding, so make sure life jackets are available to them in the shelter.
Understand What Is About To Hit
Knowing what to expect during this natural disaster is key knowledge on how to survive a hurricane. In fact, it’s half the battle. A hurricane can come in varied strengths on a scale of one to 5. Each category has it’s own wind speed and flooding depth so you know what to expect from the category of the hurricane about to hit your community.
Secure The Building
You want to give your home the greatest chance possible of surviving this storm. A hurricane comes with incredibly strong wind power as well as torrential rain and flooding. Below are some tips and a checklist of different things you can do around your home to prevent it from being damaged too badly by the storm.
- Put storm shutters on your windows and doors and make sure they are fastened and locked before the hurricane comes.
- Secure roof clips to the top of your home so that the building maintains its structure and won’t be blown off in the wind.
- Prune your yard so that any bushes and trees don’t add to the debris a hurricane produces.
- Clean out all of your guttering so that flooding will follow the right drainage direction.
Turn Off Your Power And Utilities
It’s very common to be evacuated when a hurricane is coming. Before you leave your home, make sure to turn off the main utilities. This can help to prevent electrical dangers from power lines and also stop excessive flood water through the main water valve.
Keep Yourself Updated
Even if you think the hurricane has passed, it’s very possible to be in the eye of the storm where it’s very calm. Going outside and leaving your shelter at this point could be very difficult to survive in. Keep yourself updated on everything that is happening around you so you know what to do during a hurricane and won’t risk your life or anyone else’s by making a wrong decision. Being aware of changing conditions could be pinnacle to your survival. Social media is a powerful tool in this situation as you can inform others in the community via your phone of what the situation is.
If You Have To Evacuate…
Authorities may tell you that the community is unsafe to stay in and you have to leave. This could happen at a seconds notice, so keep these tips in mind if you are told to evacuate to somewhere safer away from the flooding:
- Map out your route – Evacuation routes are pre-determined by your local authority so you should be able to plan ahead exactly where you to do go.
- Put gas in your car – The last thing you want to do is open your car doors and find you have no gas to get you anywhere. Keep a spare can of gas close by just in case.
- Find shelter – If you can, make plans to stay somewhere else in case of an emergency, perhaps with a friend or family member who lives out of town. If you don’t have anywhere to hole up, there should be various hurricane shelter locations that are safe from flood water set up by the local authorities. You can phone them to find out where they will be.
How To Survive During A Hurricane
Stay Protected From Flood Water And Strong Winds
We’re starting off this portion of our survival tips guide with advice on protecting yourself from everything a hurricane may throw at you. There’s two things you can do to protect yourself the most. If you are told to evacuate, then do it. Authorities know best, so it’s important to listen to them. Grab your survival kit, load up the family and get going. If you have a hurricane shelter, now is the time to seal those doors and use it. Whatever you do, don’t stay in your building if you’ve been told to leave.
If the call to evacuate never came or there wasn’t enough time to leave the building before the hurricane arrived, then head further into your home. The most interior room away from windows, doors and exterior walls is the place you will be the safest.
Find A Hurricane Safe Location
Staying safe means you will survive. There are numerous locations depending on the location you are in where you can wait out the storm. If flooding has happened and the water has risen to a level that you can’t escape, go to the highest floor of the building you are trapped in.
If you can remain on the lowest level whilst still being safe from the water, do so but remember to head into the innermost room for protection. Next thing to do is lie on the floor preferably under something sturdy like a desk or a table. Stay far away from the windows and doors as these could easily smash with the strength of a hurricane and harm you.
After a certain amount of time the routes used for evacuation purposes will be closed as they too become endangered by the storm. You are always strongly advised to evacuate when the first warning comes through and leave the area before the hurricane has a chance of hitting.
Don’t Leave The Safe Place
Once the hurricane hits, stay put. Most hurricane related fatalities happen because people come out of their shelters too early and get caught up in the storm outside. Driving or trying to walk through flood waters is dangerous as the water is fast moving and can easily knock you over then sweep you away.
A lull in the storms activities doesn’t mean that it is over. In fact, it could be that you are in the very centre of it. If you still don’t feel safe leaving after getting the all clear, then don’t. There’s nothing better than human instinct when it comes to survival.
Stay Away From Electrical Appliances
Electrical appliances will be affected by the water involved in hurricanes and shouldn’t be used during the storm. If you know a storm is coming then unplug your appliances beforehand and keep them off until the storm has passed. Any phone that you need to use should be mobile and not plugged into the electrical sockets in case water has affected them.
Never Bathe During A Hurricane
It’s a little known fact but it’s actually incredibly dangerous to use a bath or shower when a hurricane is in full swing. Even the smallest of storms that you can carry on with normal life during can affect you when you bathe. If the storm nears your house it could be struck by lightning. The electric current travels through your plumbing system, straight into your bath or shower water and giving you a nasty shock to boot. Stay away from bathing until you know there’s no danger from the storm.
How To Survive After A Storm
Now the hurricane has blown away you can breath a sigh of relief, but it’s not time to let your guard down just yet. Let’s look at some of the tips you can use to tackle the flood water and stay safe once the crisis has gone.
Wait For The All Clear
You should never leave shelter until you know that it is safe to do so. The safe order will come from your local authority. Don’t take anyone else’s advice as it could be wrong and you could get swept into the hurricane. In cases where water is an issue the authorities may also give you some special advice to follow to remain safe.
Administer First Aid To Those Who Need It
Minor injuries should be left to be treated until after the storm has gone. If anyone in your party has been harmed during the hurricane you should treat them now while you wait for the authorities to give you the all clear. Once the green light has been given you can seek out professional medical help for anyone that needs it.
Report Hazards In The Local Area
The authorities and emergency services can’t be everywhere at once after a hurricane. People around you will be grateful of the updates you may be able to give them of where is safe or unsafe to go after a hurricane. Things like downed power lines, broken water pipes, overturned gas tanks and even broken gas lines should not only be reported to the appropriate authorities but can also be shared on social media to make others aware to stay away.
Surviving a hurricane is all about getting through the storm together as a community . You can work together to prevent further casualties or tragedies from happening and ensure that all of the local authorities are aware of the dangers that haven’t been dealt with yet.
Put On Some Protective Clothing
At this point if you have come out safe and sound from the storm, you will probably want to help others with the cleanup. This is the time you want to put on some protective clothing. Anything from gloves, long waterproof boots and long sleeved t-shirts should be worn to stop your skin coming into contact with potentially hazardous materials.
Avoid The Floor Water As Much As Possible
Storm water is deceptively calm at the surface. What lurks below could be much worse. Trudging through this murky, muddy water could mean you come into contact with dangerous debris. A power line could have easily fallen into the water and still remain active. This would then cause the water to be electrically charged, leaving the people who walk through it at a serious risk of electrocution.
Communicate, But Do It Wisely
The first thing you might want to do is pick up a phone and get dialling to let friends and family know how you are and that you are okay after the storm. Instead of calling, try to send a text message or social media post instead. Communicating through these mediums instead of calling means you won’t be adding to the already oversaturated phone lines of people trying to get through to the emergency services. Save that phone call for when it’s really needed, otherwise send a quick message instead.
Assess Your Home
You may want to get straight on after a hurricane trying to put right the damage it has done. However, it’s best to takes things slowly after the storm has passed purely because damage emerges over time. Trying to fix everything at once may end up further problems later on. The first thing you should do in your home if the water has affected it is to open up the windows.
This will help dry out the flooring and walls that have been drenched. You shouldn’t go anywhere near gas or electrical appliances or use generators in the house until you are sure that everything is safe and usable again.
The biggest issue will be with what food you can eat. Anything that was stored in your refrigerator will have to be thrown away. Don’t drink the water out of the tap until it has been given the all clear, as it’s more than likely that it is contaminated with dirt and debris.
Rodents and reptiles may have got caught up in the storm too, and met their watery end in your home. Any that have washed up in your space should be removed immediately for prevention of dangerous diseases spreading.
Stay Calm, Remain Positive And Be Patient
Surviving through even the most minor of hurricanes requires a positive attitude. The cleanup can take a long time, and repairs to your home could take even longer. In these situations it’s important to just wait it out. Keeping your wits about you and your demeanour calm may not only help you out during a hurricane, but the people around you as well.
Where Is The Safest Place To Be During A Hurricane?
The safest place to be during a hurricane is nowhere near it! Many areas will most likely be evacuated if a hurricane is due. There will also be locally approved shelters you can go and stay in. The safest location will be on higher ground. You don’t want to be anywhere near the coasts at this point because aside from the strong winds, it’s the flooding that’s the problem. If there’s no choice and you have to remain in the house, you should head to the innermost room and keep away from windows and doors.
What To Do When There Is A Hurricane?
All you will want during a tropical storm is a safe place away from the wind and the water. The first and only thing you should be thinking about if a storm hits is to find shelter. Grab your survival kit and head to the nearest place for waiting out a violent storm.
What Should You Not Do During A Hurricane?
- Never tape over the windows as this won’t help and it’s hard to remove.
- Don’t open any windows during the storm.
- Don’t go near windows or doors.
- Never use a candle for light if the power goes out. Fire can be very dangerous during these storms if there is a gas leak.
- Don’t try to drive through moving water in an attempt of escaping the store. This causes the car to float and could sweep you away.
- Never stay in your home if you have been given evacuation orders.