If you were not living in a cave for the past week, you most likely heard about Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy. While this is not a powerful storm by hurricane standards, it is quickly turning into one of the most freakish storms on record. The reason why it is being called a freak of nature is because it is VERY rare for a Hurricane to hit this portion of the US this late in the year. This may be one of the few hurricanes to also drop Snow/Sleet.
I am a resident of Miami, Florida, which is one of the most common places for Hurricanes to hit. I have been through over 20 major storms and wanted to share some tips with the community. This guide is mainly dedicated to members who work in or reside in areas that are expecting a direct impact. I will add a few lines at the end for those who simply use services located in the path of the storm.
Before the Storm (Hosting)
All hosts should have a disaster plan in play. Now is the time to activate it. At this time, you should;
- Ensure all Staff Members are accounted and make sure that you have updated contact information (Phone Numbers/Mobile Phone Numbers/Personal Email)
- Watch the local news for weather news and storm advisories
- Take backups of all customer data and move these backups offsite (if possible)
- Backup customer contact information and ensure that you have a method to communicate to customers as needed
- Contact your provider to ensure that they are setup to handle the storm and ensure that they have backup generators in place.
- Have an employee who has the authority to make business decisions located outside of the path of the storm. If you are a smaller host, this can be a trusted family member. Please make sure that you have
Before the Storm (Personal)
Your personal safety is more important then your business, Here are some tips to get you through the storm.
- If you are advised to evacuate, DO IT. Hurricane Katrina would not have killed as many people if they heeded this warning. If you are located in a flood zone or in low elevations/coastlines, you will most likely be asked to evacuate,
- Charge your Cell Phone and Laptop. Excpect phone lines to go down, so your cell phone will be the primary method of communication. If you have multiple batteries, charge them as well.
- Have a car charger handy and an inverter on standby
- If your cell phone battery has poor battery life, you may want to keep it powered off until needed.
- Have a person who you can contact in the event of an emergency who is not in the path of the storm (anyone who has my contact information is welcome to use me)
- Stock Up on Food, things that dont require refrigeration or cooking are best. Crackers, chips, jerky,peanut butter and bread are ideal. You should try to have enough for at least a week, however if you can afford 3 weeks worth of rations, do it.
- Water – Stock up on botteled water, it is not abnormal for water lines to become contaminated with major storm, especially with sewage. Fill up the bathtubs and all other large containers with water as well. You should have a few gallons per person per day. Make sure you also put aside water for personal hygene. You may not be able to shower but a sponge bath will cut it, just make sure you limit the water consumption.
- Fill up some 2 liter containers 2/3rd of the way with water and fill your freezer with them, once solid, move them into the refrigerator and add a few more bottles to the freezer. This will help keep your food cold in the event of a power failure
- Make sure your car’s gas tank is full
- Make sure that you have surge protectors
- Make sure that you have a friend or faily member within 50 miles that you can get to in the event that it is no longer safe to stay in your residence.
- Get a 3G Aircard, it will allow you access to the internet in case your primary connection fails.
- If possible, buy a 2nd pre-paid cell phone, activate it, charge it and store it in a plastic bag. TracPhone is an ideal provider as the minutes due to the price and the lenght of time until the minutes expire. A simple phone is best but try to get one that can SMS if possible.
- If you have an infant, ensure that you have enough diapers and baby food for 1-3 weeks.
- Check and stock your first aid kit
- Make sure you have a few fashlights and several extra sets of batteries. LED Fashlights are ideal as they use less energy and the bulbs last longer
- If you have pets, ensure that you have plenty of food and water for them as well.
- If you are in the path of the storm, it is best to put up your hurricane shutters. If you do not have any, then plywood works in a pinch. Many people will tell you to tape your windows with packing tape/duct tape, this does not offer much protection but may prevent small shards of glass getting everywhere if the window breaks.
- Get a copy of all personal paperwork such as birth certificates and put them in a waterproof container (a zip top plastic bag works)
- Go to the ATM and pick up some cash, your debit card may not work
- Find a “SafeRoom” in your house with no windows, such as an interior walk in closet, move your family to this if the storm gets bad or there is a tornado.
- Turn your refrigerator to the coldest setting
- Secure all outside fixtures such as lawn chairs, these can become projectiles in the event of high winds.
- DO NOT fully drain your pool, just partially if you have one. you can also submerge your lawn fixtures in there for safe keeping if waterproof.
During the Storm
While the storm is in progress, please follow these tips
- Stay away from all Windows, even if boarded up
- Stay together, if you have kids and a family, have everyone sleep in the same room (Interior rooms are best)
- Stay Inside until the all clear is given. It is very normal for winds to die down and the rain to stop for short periods of time. Do not be tempted to step outside.
- Tune into the news on TV or a Radio to try to keep up to date on the storm and advisories
- Stay Calm, it may get loud outside
- If you loose power, try to conserve electricity by using your flashlights only when needed.
- If you loose power, unplug all electronic devices such as computers, TVs and appliances, power surges are quite common
- If you need to reach someone, try to use SMS rather then calling them. This will conserve your battery and your call will most likely have a better chance of making it through if the switchboards are flooded.
- Do not expect emergency services to be able to respond to everything, delays can be up to 3 DAYS. Do not call emergency services unless it is critical. Do not call emergency services for updates on the storm or for weather forecasts.
After the Storm (Personal)
It is a fact that more people are injured immediately after the storm has passed then are injured during the storm. Please follow these tips;
- Resist the urge to go outside and look around.
- Stay away from standing water
- Stay away from downed power lines
- If you must travel, be careful as traffic control lights may be down
- Boil all tap water for 5 minutes before drinking
- Cook and eat all parishible food if you are without power before eating the dry goods.
- If you have a personal generator, keep them far from your house and do not wire them to your homes electricity, unless designed for that.
After the Storm (Hosting)
After you have ensured that you are safe, you should resume control over your business;
- Contact all staff members who were impacted to make sure that they are safe
- Assess all equiptment
- Establish contact with customers
I hope this helps, if you have any questions, ask away.