By John Denny
(Charlestown, Nevis) – Rain has finally started to fall and though lawns and gardens love the moisture, the rainy season is also the season of hurricanes. The National Hurricane Center has predicted more than ever for the coming season, but other experts say there is no way to predict the numbers of hurricanes. One thing is certain: hurricanes do pass through the Caribbean and to not be prepared is to not have good sense.
Having a plan is the most important first step of being prepared, according to Lester Blackett of Nevis Disaster Management.
“Whether it is a family or business, a disaster plan needs to be in place,” said Mr. Blackett. “It needs to be a plan that has been vetted and tested.”
All family members and all employees should be part of the plan and they need to be updated every year or sooner if circumstances require and everyone needs to take responsibility for the plan as it applies to him or her, Mr. Blackett said.
“One of the first things people should look at is what is around your house or your business,” he said. “Cleaning up things that can fly into buildings is one of the easiest ways to prevent damage. Everyone should make sure their insurance is up to date.”
Permanent storm shutters are the best protection for windows, but if your home doesn’t have them, marine plywood cut to fit and ready to install is a good option. Making sure your roof is secure is another way to prevent considerable damage.
“Everyone needs to have a hurricane survival kit in their home and in their business,” Mr. Blackett said.
The following are suggestions for a hurricane survival kit:
An adult will need a minimum of 1 liter (35 oz.) of clean drinking water per day. One gallon (128 oz.) per adult is a better quantity per adult per day when he is active in tropical sun. Humans will die in three days without water, but will survive about ten days without food. Keep water in a sealed, clean plastic container such as water bottles or the containers used to package vinegar and cooking oil. If you have to use water from land sources, boil for at least ten minutes before drinking.
Stock food items that do not require cooking and have enough food for your family for at least 10 days. In case of a hurricane, public feeding with hot meals is unlikely until day five except for injured, infants and young children.
Suggested foods to stock up on are:
Corned Beef, Sardines, Luncheon Meat, Peanut Butter, Jam/Jelly/Honey, Biscuits
Salt (the body needs daily salt to avoid cramps), Fruit Juice, Raisins/Currants/Dates (dried)
Rolled Oats, Chocolate Bars/Barley Sugar, Condensed Milk, Sugar, Toilet Paper
First aid items should also be a part of your survival kit, such as:
Band aids, Bandages, Scissors/tweezers/needles/safety pins
Alcohol, Cotton wool/lint, Aspirin or other Analgesic
White Petroleum Jelly/Antiseptic Ointment, First Aid Book
A few tools are also a good idea:
Waterproof Flashlight spare batteries/bulbs
Hurricane Lantern Kerosene oil
Other safe lighting (NOT candles)
Matches – waterproof container/plastic bag
Hammer – professional with claw
Wood saw 3 ft cutting edge
Nails 21b 2″, 2 lb 4″, galvanized nails
Waterproof plastic – 12″ x 12″
Cutlass/axe, Rope nylon about 50′ x _”
Pen knife (heavy duty)
Miscellaneous items to include:
Transistor Radio spare batteries
Note Book pencils/pens
Map of St. Kitts and Nevis
Cooking gas/ Sterno
Metal cup/plate/spoon/cooking pot
Needle, thread, buttons, etc.
Large trash bags
Also included in the kit should be a change of clothes, an umbrella and rubber boots or tennis shoes. Waiting for the storm to pass can seem long and something to occupy one’s mind to alleviate the anxiety, so cards, dominos or some other form of entertainment can take some of the stress out of a bad situation.
A good plan starts with discussion. Discuss the type of hazards that could affect your family and know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge flooding or wind.
Locate a safe room or the safest areas in your home for each hurricane hazard. In certain circumstances the safest areas may not be your home but within your community.
Determine escape routes from your home and places to meet.
Make a plan now for what to do with your pets.
Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911.
Prepare a communication plan with your family by having a contact number outside your location that everyone can call and check in.
A car charger for your cell phone is a good contingency for a power failure and program family and emergency numbers into your phone.
Keep non-emergency calls to a minimum to ensure lines are open for calls that must get through. Text messaging is a quick efficient way to communicate and during network congestion, texting will often get through when a phone call will not.
Evacuation is unlikely in the Federation, so survival depends on good sense and being prepared.
If a hurricane is likely in you area you should:
Listen to the radio or TV for information.
Fill your auto with gas and fill additional gas cans if they are available.
Secure your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors. Trim plants and trees close to your house.
Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
Turn off propane tanks. Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.
Give your dog a bath because pets will need to come inside.
If a hurricane hits you should:
Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
Close all interior doors, secure and brace external doors.
Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.
Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
For those living in houses not sturdy enough to withstand a hurricane, there are shelters throughout the Federation in various community buildings and churches. If this is your case, have an evacuation kit ready to go. It should include many of the items listed above and be packaged in waterproof containers and bags.
If you have to go to a shelter, remember to take identification, valuable papers, cash, credit cards and enough survival items to last three or four days.