Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Plan your evacuation routes

Published:Tuesday | August 2, 2016 | 8:00 AM

The last major system to affect Jamaica was Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which caused significant damage, especially to eastern parishes.

Those are the ones most often hit. But if you don't live in Portland or St Thomas, why should you be worried?

Storms and hurricanes are unpredictable and can strike anywhere at any time. It is better to be safe than sorry. Every household needs to plan evacuation routes in case of emergencies before, during or after a hurricane or tropical storm. The longer you take to leave, the more problematic it becomes as routes become blocked and you will be left with fewer options.

Since flooding, landslides and high winds can occur many hours before a hurricane makes landfall, it is advised to voluntarily leave your home before there is danger. If you live in a flood-prone area, have an alternative safe place to stay in a less vulnerable parish or town.

When considering and selecting your evacuation routes, note the following:

- Download a detailed map of your community to help determine the best route(s) for you and your family's safety

- Plan to use public transit or carpool as much as possible. It offers the fastest way to reach your destination. It also reduces the risk of dangerous and time-consuming traffic delays.

- If you live near the sea, aim for higher ground. Be mindful, however, that getting to locations in the hills may be difficult because of landslides.

n Public transportation may be shut down hours before the storm, so move the moment you are told to. Remember, JUTC drivers risk their lives to save yours by sticking around to transport you to shelters.

- Plan to leave hours in advance of the storm. Do not wait until the storm is impacting the island.

- Listen to the radio for updates on routes that might be blocked.

- Allow additional travel time and consider your transportation, dietary, and medical needs (oxygen, extra batteries/chargers, eyeglasses, prescriptions, etc.). Bring all medications with you and have contact information for your health providers written down.

- Avoid driving through flooded roads, fords or gullies.

Although it may seem easy to identify evacuation routes as the need arises, that is far from the reality. At that stage, it is very easy for you to become confused based on the events around you. Plan ahead!

- Contributed by Weather Data Associates