Quick List: Hurricane tips

29 August, 2011
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10 Quick Post Hurricane Irene Thoughts

Wanted to make a quick post, while the event is still fresh in the minds of readers, about the nature of hurricane-related disasters. Over the course of the weekend, I collected a number of comments, questions and interesting facts from various news and networking sites. Here were the ones I thought were worth sharing:

10) Watch for downed power lines – Even if the power in your house isn’t down, lines near you may have fallen. Treat downed power lines like a handgun – ALWAYS treat them as ‘live’ and extremely dangerous. [edit: Just an hour after posting this up, I saw a news bulletin. A 50 year old New York man was killed by a downed power line. This is serious people. Don’t mess around with downed power lines.]

9) Be extremely careful if you need to start a fire and simply don’t if at all possible. The risk for gas leaks, dangerous fumes and the chance that the fire can get out of hand is too great. Remember, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to call 911 if there’s trouble.

8) Hurricanes are very large. Much of the storm-trackers focus on the core of the storm, but even a fairly mild hurricane can be hundreds of miles across. Hurricane Irene, only a category 1 storm, was over 230 miles in radius.

7) Don’t use generators in the same place people will be. The fumes from a running motor can kill. Only use generators in areas with good ventilation.

6) The category of a hurricane does not necessarily equate to the amount of damage it will cause. Lower category storms can cause significant amounts of damage depending on where and how they hit.

5) Hurricanes will often spawn tornadoes. Because, yeah, that’s what you needed on top of a hurricane: tornadoes. Sheesh. But yes, major storms can produce tornadoes and damaging-but-not-hurricane winds in the area around, preceding and following a hurricane.

4) “Why do we store water? My faucets don’t use electricity!” – True, the water that hits your tap is almost certainly gravity-powered, but the systems that manage the water, and more importantly, keep it clean and drinkable, DO use power. Large storms can cause sewers to back up and water treatment facilities can be overwhelmed, if they have power at all.

3) If you get an order to evacuate, just do it. Don’t think you’ll be the exception, don’t rely on the fact that you didn’t sustain any damages “last time”. Authorities don’t make those declarations lightly and when you ignore them you strain the emergency systems and put yourself and others at risk. Even if you feel alright risking your own life, think about the lives of the rescue professional. At least one Irene rescuer was killed trying to save someone who had chosen to ignore the evacuation warnings.

2) Remember others! – Communicate with your neighbors before and after an event. Make sure everyone is taken care of, and you in turn will have someone local that’s looking for you. Remember the pets/animals too. Pets get lost and scared in major storms.

1) Avoid going outside during a storm. Even if the “worst of it” has passed, it can be very dangerous to go outside. Consider this: getting hit by a pebble thrown by your younger sibling? Not so bad. Getting hit by a pebble flung at you at 40+ miles-per-hour? You don’t want that. You really, really don’t want that.

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