The Dos & Don'ts During a Hurricane
A Hurricane may be predictable, but it also has some range. Hurricanes can range from an exaggerated rainstorm to a devastating natural disaster. These storms have the potential to wreak havoc and it is best to take them seriously. Even a ‘normal’ rainstorm can cause some serious hazards if it wants to.
Now, while not all hurricanes are severe and deadly, it would be silly and dangerous to treat any category of hurricane casually. There are some standard dos and don’ts to adhere to during a hurricane. While these guidelines can depend on the storm category, if you want to err on the side of caution, these should be adhered to no matter the severity.
While regions like Florida and the Caribbean are more susceptible to hurricanes. Every prepper should know all the places at risk of hurricanes and check to see if you live in one of these locations.
The truth is hurricanes cause enough destruction on their own, without humans recklessly trying to have their 15 minutes of fun in its wake. They are fierce, deadly, and can leave a trail of disaster behind them. Unfortunately, they come with dangerous hazards that can make things even more difficult. The levels of destruction these hazards can cause depends on the category of the hurricane.
High Winds and Projectiles
Hurricanes are rated based solely on wind speeds from category 1 to category 5. Even a Category 1 hurricane can knock out power or damage a home. The most vulnerable targets are coastal areas, which have nothing to break the force of the wind as it blows over water with no defense against the projectiles the wind bring with it.
Heavy Rain and Flooding
Hurricanes generally produce heavy torrential rain, which can lead to serious flooding. Flooding can also happen in different ways including flash floods to the overflowing of rivers. Powerful storm surges can push the ocean water inland causing coastal flooding. If you live near water, take the proper safety precautions and move to a higher ground if possible as that gives you a better chance of surviving the flood.
Another natural, yet devastating hazard of a hurricane is a tornado. Almost all hurricanes that move over land produce at least one tornado. This means there may be more than 1 that crops up. While many of these tornadoes form the same day a hurricane reaches a landfall, they can also form days prior as an added warning that a hurricane is brewing.
Although hurricane generated tornadoes are rather mild and short lived, they should not be taken lightly. If a tornado occurs, pick an inner room, preferably one without windows and on the lowest level of your house. You can also take shelter in a basement or storm shelter.
A storm surge is the unusual rise of water caused by high winds and it is usually a side effect of a coastal hurricane. Such surges are followed by strong winds, which sweep coastal water inland. The approaching force of the storm is enough to take lives, cause destruction, and lead to flooding. This is not the time to be trying to catch any waves.
During a hurricane, projectiles can be deadly causing impalement or severing limbs. Hurricane winds have the power to uproot trees, tiles, and debris, turning them into high-speed projectiles. In this case, you should close and stay away from all windows and doors. This is critical, especially if you have trees and pool or lawncare equipment left about.
Landslides and Mudslides
Due to the waterlogged ground and continuous rain, landslides and mudslides are typical hazards that accompany a hurricane. Responsible for the deaths of 25-50 people annually, you should take landslides and mudslides seriously, especially if you live near mountainous, elevated, or in the valleys between ranges. Hurricane Maria caused more than 30,000 landslides in just its damage path through Puerto Rico.
What to Do During a Hurricane
To survive a hurricane, you have to be alert and know the right actions to take. In an active storm/hurricane, some things are just outrightly dangerous and can be a lead to a quick death or the reason you get severely injured.
Stay Away from Windows
Although it is tempting to watch the storm through your windows, being to close to your windows during a hurricane is not safe. Stay inside, keeping your them closed and staying away from all windows. Strong winds carrying projectiles and flying debris can shatter your window and hurt you if you are too close to the window.
Hunker Down in an Interior room
When a hurricane is severe enough to shake the foundation of your home, it is time for you to hunker down and protect yourself. Find an interior room in the lowest level of your house and crouch down until the storm ends. Especially, do not go outside or try to drive at this point of the storm.
Use Flashlights not Candles
A power outage is likely to occur during a hurricane, flashlights, lanterns or any battery-operated lighting device is your best choice. Make sure your preps include extra batteries and avoid using candles as they can also pose multiple hazards in an already emergent situation. Such hazards include fires, carbon monoxide buildup, domestic accidents such as tripping or gas explosions. If you use candles or burn anything, wood, gas, or chemical, within your home at this time, you are exposing yourself to potential carbon monoxide poisoning which is the silent killer of many natural disasters.
Keep Doors and Windows Shut
Keep your doors and windows shut and sealed during a hurricane. If a door or window is opened at the wrong time, a hurricane force wind can come and blow your roof off when looking for the exit. Install storm shutters or plywood sheets preemptively will further protect your windows. If time has run out, do not try to put them up last minute. Last minute preparation can lead to injury or death.
Things Not to Do During a Hurricane
A hurricane is still dangerous even if it is a category 1. Even a category 1 whips around 74-95 mph winds. Save the tragic hero moments for the movie screens. Make sure you and your family are safe.
Play in the Rain/Go in the Ocean
Be smart and safe. Playing in the rain or surfing the hurricane waters is one of the fastest ways to get struck by lightning or even lose your life. This is not the time to splash in the puddles or hang ten. Storms can pick up quickly and changing intensity rapidly. If you did not receive official evacuation orders, it is recommended you stay where you are. What starts our as a small rainstorm can quickly progress into a named hurricane. You do not want to be caught outside or driving in a deluge.
Play in the Floodwaters
Floodwaters can harbor hidden hazards. If the flood waters are still moving, even 6 inches of running currents can sweep a person off their feed, not to mention if a submerged branch cracks into your leg.
Flood waters that are stagnate, or still, can still pose its own set of dangers. You can get an infection or illness from waddling in water contaminated by waste or chemical run off. Downed powerlines could also be pumping hidden volts into the water which could electrocute you before you even notice. Floods are as dangerous as hurricanes.
Shower, Bathe, Dishes, etc.
A hurricane is often accompanied by lightning. Lighting can travel through plumbing. It is recommended to not shower, bathe, do dishes, or even wash your hands while the hurricane is actively spawning lightning strikes. While the risk is low, with only about 10-20 people annually, getting struck while using indoor plumbing during a storm, it’s better safe than sorry.
Finish Outdoor Preparations
Maybe you were planning to attach plywood to the windows, pick up debris, and clean up the pool toys. That is all a great idea, but not safe once the hurricane makes its way to your region. This is not the time to complete any safety checks outside your home, focus on the inside if you wish. Even if the storm has passed, stay put until you are sure the storm has fully passed. Once the storm has left your area, only then should you start to deal with the aftermath of the hurricane.
Do not drive about during an active hurricane. Don’t go looking for gas or going to get food or water, or in an attempt to evacuate. It is too late once the hurricane has reached your area. Only leave your house when under strict guidelines and safety warning you’re your local authority. No, your know-it-all neighbors or mother do not count. Hunker down, avoiding exterior walls, and stay safe.
Use Wired Electronics
Plugged in electrical appliances are a hazard and can pose additional danger during a hurricane. To help prevent shorts or fires, unplug all devices to protect them and you from electrical shocks. While the storm is actively reigning down on you, your household should be reliant on only battery powered electronics, lighting, and radios.
Despite what native Floridians may say, hurricanes are a serious natural disaster. If you play it safe and follow these dos and don’ts, everyone should walk with nothing more than wanting to take a shower and have some ice-cold water. Being properly prepared for the hurricane, equipped with the knowledge to survive the hurricane, and knowing how to properly deal with the aftermath should make you feel fully ready to take on any hurricane that comes your way.