In order to survive a hurricane we must first understand exactly what type of monster we are dealing with, and I didn’t mis-state … a hurricane is in fact a monster of Mother Nature. This year’s recent destruction of Puerto Rico, Houston and Florida solidifies the claim, as the destruction was biblical in nature. Understanding the associated risks of the storm helps develop hurricane survival tips that will save your life.
How Exactly are Hurricanes Formed?
Hurricanes begin as a low pressure tropical disturbance in warm ocean waters which has a surface temperature of at least 80 degrees (26.5 C). As the low pressure system gains energy from the warm ocean waters and once wind speeds hits 38 mph (61 K), it is classified as a tropical depression. When the storm winds reach, and sustain, speeds of 74 mph (119 K) it becomes a hurricane and is categorized as a 1 to 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Which means what? There are 5 categories of hurricanes all based on sustained wind speed.
- Category 1: Wind speeds 74-95 mph (119 -153 Km/hr) Faster than a cheetah can run
- Category 2: 96-110 mph (154-177 km/hr) Faster than 99.9% baseball pitchers fastballs
- Category 3: 111-129 mph (178-208) km/hr) Serving speed of men pro tennis players
- Category 4: 130-156 mph (209-251 kn/hr) Faster then any roller coaster on earth
- Category 5: Winds greater than 157mph (252 kn/hr) Faster than High Speed Trains
- Eye: The center of the swirling storm where winds are light, possibly calm, with partly cloudy to clear skies.
- Eye Wall: The eye wall is a ring of thunderstorms which swirl around the eye and produce the fastest winds and heaviest and strongest rain.
- Rain Bands: These are thunderstorms which are spun far away from the eye wall, can extend for 100’s of miles and can include tornadoes. These are types of thunderstorms Missouri will experience from a hurricane in Florida.
Hurricane Survival Tips
It can be said one good thing about hurricanes is with today’s technology, the storm is somewhat predictable, which allows time for people to prepare or evacuate the dangerous areas. However, if you don’t know what to do, or ignore warnings, you place yourself and family in harm’s way.
- Know ahead of time where you will go if ordered to evacuate. A friend or family member who lives outside the danger zone, a shelter, a motel. Remember most shelters do not allow pets, take that into consideration when planning.
- Prepare your home. Board up (stout 1/2” + plywood) or install storm shutters on all windows. Broken windows turn into deadly glass shrapnel and uncovered window openings allow wind, rain and debris unrestricted into the house reeking total destruction.
- Clear your yard of any loose objects, patio furniture, lawn statues, etc. as any unrestrained object can turn into a battering ram due to high winds and/or storm surge. Leave your swimming pool full of water and secure the pump and filtration system.
- Be sure your car/truck is ready for travel with a full tank of gas. If you have a boat secure it as best as possible. Remember, all draw and swing bridges will be closed to boat traffic when a evacuation order is issued,
- If you decide to stay at home and ride the storm out … perform Tips 1-3, then proceed. You must have enough potable water stored. Rule of thumb is 1 gallon per person per day for 7 days. I strongly suggest doubling that amount. You will be shocked at how much water you consume per day when you don’t have it, or are running low.
- Have 7 days of non-perishable food for anticipated number of people. Again, I urge you to increase the anticipated amount in case something destroys part of your food stash or unexpected guest, neighbors in need, become part of the family.
- Stay inside. Don’t venture outside to view the damage or take pictures. You may not be able to make it back inside. Don’t be fooled when the eye of the storm passes over and everything becomes calm. The hurricane is only half over and will return with a vengeance.
- The danger is not over just because the storm is. The after math of the destruction can be just as deadly as the storm itself.
- Always have proper identification with you, as authorities don’t want people venturing where they don’t belong, looting. Have proof you belong in the neighborhood.
- Don’t go out sightseeing. Analyzing damage or travel for specific purpose is alright, but emergency vehicles will need the least amount of hindrance as possible while performing their jobs. Sunday drivers are not welcomed in an emergency situation.
- Beware of the possibility of dangerous animals, snakes, insects, gators, etc. suddenly appearing and becoming a problem as they move to higher ground. Be aware of your surroundings.
- Be cautious with fires for cooking, warmth or light (including candles) as they can quickly become unmanageable. You have enough problems don’t add any more. Also be aware if there is a possibility of any type of gas leak before striking matches.
- More than likely the power will be disabled. Turn off or disconnect all devises which could be damaged or destroyed by a power surge when power is restored. Hopefully you have some backup power generation like a battery bank.
- Restrict opening the refrigerator or freezer. Frozen foods can remain frozen for 24 to 48 hours if escaping cooler air is limited. If your freezer is not full of products, place plastic jugs of ice in it to fill the empty space. Remember, once the food has thawed, never refreeze it. Not sure it’s still safe to eat? If in doubt … throw it out.
- Stay away from downed power lines. Just because you don’t have power to the house doesn’t mean the electrical lines are not alive.
Hurricane Survival Kit
Nobody can prepare for every emergency. As they say “Shit Happens.” But you can try to anticipate what are known historical problems people have experienced in the wake of a hurricane, and building an emergency survival kit is one such preparation. This is a copied version of a suggested American Red Cross Survival Kit.
Your kit should include a portable, sturdy, easy to carry, water resistant container and should have enough supplies for three days. Check your kit and replace perishable stock every six months. Whether you purchase a kit or choose to build your own, your three-day kit should include:
- Water – one gallon per person, per day.
- Food – non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items such as tuna fish, peanut butter, crackers, and canned fruit. Make sure to include a manual can opener.
- A battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.
- A first aid kit.
- Prescription and non-prescription medication items (seven-day supply). Include medical supplies like extra hearing aid batteries, syringes, etc.
- Copies of important documents, including birth certificates, insurance policies, a medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home and social security cards.
- Cell phone chargers.
- Multi-purpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items.
- Extra cash. ATMs and credit cards won’t work if the power is out.
- Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
- One blanket or sleeping bag per person.
- Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowls).
- Maps of the area.
If you have never experienced the ordeal of enduring a hurricane there is no way to adequately describe the power and destruction it possesses. Watching it on television or social media can not convey the horrors people can be exposed to. If you take nothing else from this article, please … Do Not underestimate the Dangers of a Hurricane.
Listen to authorities, heed warnings and as always try to prepare for the worse.