Sun | Dec 10, 2023

Are You Prepared? Stormy Season

Published:Saturday | October 5, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Hurricane Season: June 1-Nov 30


Important things to do before a storm

Look over your insurance policy to ensure it provides adequate coverage.

Check the storm surge history and elevation of your area.

Make an inventory of possessions.

Photograph your house and all the rooms inside for insurance purposes.

Make sure your roofing is properly fastened and secure - make all necessary repairs.

Obtain lumber, plywood, and concrete nails for battening up.

Know your evacuation route.

Organise a place to meet with your family should you become separated during the storm.

Clear your yard and drains of debris.

Prune tree limbs that are close to your house. They can cause damage to your home or utility wires during a storm.

Find a place to move your boat in an emergency.

If your home is at risk, plan in advance where you will stay. Call the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) disaster coordinator for the location of the nearest shelter.

If you need transportation to a public shelter due to special needs - such as age, physical disability, or mental disorder, register in advance with the nearest parish council office and the ODPEM.

2. Storm looms

What to do if ...  a hurricane WATCH is issued

Listen to weather updates.

Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, hanging plants, bicycles, toys and garden tools.

Close all windows and doors. Cover windows with storm shutters or pre-cut plywood.

Elevate furniture or relocate them to a higher floor to protect from flooding.

Fill your vehicle's gas tank.

... a hurricane WARNING is issued

Secure your home by unplugging appliances and turning off electricity and the main water valve.

Stay away from windows, skylights and glass doors.

Obey evacuation order, if issued.

Park your car in a place that will be safest from falling trees and utility poles.

If you are in a high-rise, know the location of the nearest stairway. Don't use the elevator.

Batten down windows and doors with shutters or lumber. Wedge sliding glass doors with a bar.

Turn refrigerator and freezer to the coldest level. Freeze water in plastic containers.

Sanitise bathtubs and fill with water.

Wrap important papers (passports, birth certificates etc) in plastic or in waterproof containers and store in a safe room.

3. Evacuation

Storm surge evacuation tips

Minimise the distance you must travel to reach a safe location.

Select the nearest possible evacuation destination, preferably within your local area, and map out your route.

Choose the home of the closest friend or relative outside a designated evacuation zone, or go to a public shelter or hotel outside of the vulnerable area.

Contact your local emergency management office to register or get information.

Prepare your home prior to leaving by boarding up doors and windows, securing or moving indoors all yard objects, and turning off all utilities.

Before leaving, fill your car with gas and withdraw extra money from the ATM.

Take all prescription medicines and special medical items, such as glasses and diapers.

If your family evacuation plan includes a boat or trailer, leave early.

If you are ordered by local officials to evacuate, do so as quickly as possible. Don't delay.

Stay tuned to a local radio or television station.

4. Going to a shelter

Check with parish disaster coordinator for available shelters in your area.

Find out about adequate amenities/facilities at shelter ahead of time.

Carry enough food and water for three days. Don't expect to be fed by emergency crew.

Take with you medication, first-aid kit and change of clothes.

Wear comfortable footwear such as sneakers or water boots if flooding is likely.

Also take blanket, pillow and sleeping bag.

Parish Disaster Coordinators

Kingston and St Andrew:Terry-Ann Forrester - 967-3329, 922-0254

Portmore: Phillipa Ricketts - 740-0789, 740-7440-2

Clarendon: Patricia Paul - 986-2216 or 986-2234 ext: 224

Hanover: Desmond Dorman - 379-4328 or 956-2624

Manchester: Conroy Barnes - 448-6037

Portland: Denise Lewis - 841-0097

St Ann: Alvin Clarke - 794-9331-2

St Catherine: Patricia Lewis - 907-0296, 907-1795 and 478-8446

St Elizabeth: Claudine Forbes (acting) - 364-0768

St James: Tamoy Sinclair - 393-2210

St Mary: Kirk Roberts (acting) - 577-8264

St Thomas: Millicent Blake - 982-9449 or 982-2227

Trelawny: Dion Hylton-Lewis - 397-2269 or 954-3970

Westmoreland: Hilma Tate - 360-7686

5. Family Emergency Plan

Assign roles/responsibilities for hurricane preparedness and
evacuation to each member of the household long before actual storm.

Establish an evacuation plan and map out exit strategy and route.

Review emergency plans monthly.

Ensure all doors and windows are properly secured to make break-ins difficult.

Alert parish disaster coordinator and police when evacuating premises.

Place furniture on raised platform, e.g. building blocks, to prevent flood damage.

If not carrying all important documents, such as passports and ID cards, lock them in a watertight container.


Three-day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day) and
ready-to-eat non-perishable foods, such as tuna, sardines, tinned
sausage, crackers, canned fruit

Manual can opener

Battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries

First-aid kit


Important documents, including passports, birth certificates, insurance policies

Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members

Change of clothes for everyone

Emergency tools

Extra set of home and car keys

Extra pair of glasses or contact lenses, extra batteries for hearing aids

❑ Matches and candles, hurricane lamps

❑ Bleach and other cleansers

❑ Tissue, soap, sanitary napkins

❑ Disposable cups, plates, utensils

❑ Large plastic trash bags

❑ Containers for water storage

❑ Coal or oil stove, grill

❑ Portable cooler

❑ 100 feet of rope

❑ Tape

❑ Blankets and towels

❑ Mosquito repellent

❑ Tarpaulin

Terms you should know

TROPICAL STORM: An organised system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined circulation and top winds of 63 kph (39 mph) to 118 kph (74 mph).

HURRICANE WATCH: Hurricane conditions possible within 36 hours.

HURRICANE WARNING: Hurricane conditions expected within 24 hours.

HURRICANE: An intense tropical weather system with a well-defined circulation and wind speeds of 118 kph (74 mph) or higher. Hurricanes are categorised according to their wind speed:

Tropical storm: winds 39-73 mph


Category One: winds 74-95 mph

Category Two: winds 96-110 mph

Category Three: winds 111-130 mph

Category Four: winds 131-155 mph

Category Five:winds 156 mph and up

Storm names


How to store water and food

Store enough water to last two weeks for each person in your household. A normal active person requires a minimum of one litre of water per day for drinking and food preparation.

Label the containers with the current date and renew your drinking supply each month.

Store emergency food in waterproof containers.

Arrange items so that those stored first will be used first.

Observe expiration dates on packaged foods.

Wrap bread, cookies, crackers, and dry goods in plastic bags and store in airtight containers.

Your storage area should be dry, cool and free from contamination by insects,poisons and other chemicals.

Water should be stored in clean, well-covered containers.