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How To Prepare For A Typhoon

Typhoons and Tropical Storms bring wind and rain, being prepared is essential to survival. In general, a tropical storm will deposit more rain than a typhoon; typhoons deliver more wind and, the closer you are to the storm's center, the wind will be seen to dramatically change in direction as the storm passes. Along coasts that face the approaching typhoon there may be a storm surge (highest recorded storm surge in the Philippines was seven metres in Tacloban, 8th November, 2013). Preparing for either a typhoon or tropical storm is the same.

In the following, we are assuming you are not on the ocean and that your yacht is secure in a marina or at a typhoon-safe mooring. If this is not the case then make it so, before the storm arrives.

Typical challenges that typhoons and tropical storms create:

  • storm surges (similar to a tsunami) along coasts facing the storm
  • flooding of low-lying areas
  • rivers and streams will burst their banks
  • ponds and lakes will overflow their perimeters
  • hillsides denuded of old-growth forest will lose their topsoil that will choke drainage channels and waterways
  • conglomerations of topsoil will cause landslides
  • waterlogged soil on hillsides, that have been cut for roads and other purposes, will cause landslides
  • power poles will be blown over causing loss of power transmission
  • telecommunications towers may be damaged
  • roads may become impassable because of landslides and fallen trees & power poles
  • waterways may become chocked with fallen trees and other debris causing further flooding in adjacent areas
  • crops may be lost due to poor drainage, inundation and or wind damage
  • poorly secured roofing on houses and other structures may be blown away

Prepare With Preventative Measures

When a storm is forecast to pass within a hundred kilometers of your location you can do many things to prepare yourself, your family and your friends to avoid the worst effects of the potential disaster. The preparations you make will minimize the impact of the storm and ensure that your life continues as best it can under whatever circumstance arises.

Two things to remember: typhoons and tropical storms are dangerous and can kill; and, most storms will pass within two days.

People die in storms mostly because they do not use common sense. Common sense says: when a storm is approaching, or passing, or has just passed, it is foolish to go outside. You can be killed by: flood waters, landslides, downed electric cables, falling trees and any number of objects that may be hurled by the wind, including coconuts, roofing sheets and other dislodged objects.

Most people venture outside in a storm because they have not prepared themselves to stay indoors. They may want to venture outside in a storm to get food, water, load for mobile phones, to start a generator or to secure things that are being blown around.

Preventative Measures BEFORE A Storm

Do you live along a coast facing the Pacific Ocean? and, is your property less than 10 metres above sea level? If "yes" to both then, if your property is close to the predicted path of an approaching storm, you should seriously consider to evacuate to higher ground.

If "no" to both of the above then:

  • secure all roof materials
  • remove all debris and garbage from gutters, drains and drainage channels
  • trim trees with overhanging branches
  • remove potted plants from window sills and other high places from where they may fall
  • harvest crops (coconuts especially) before the storm arrives
  • move valuable items away from windows
  • place valuable items on tables or in cabinets above waist height
  • make sure you have at least two flashlights, a battery operated radio and two whistles
  • make sure you have at least twelve candles, four replacement batteries for each flashlight & two for the radio
  • make sure you have a combination of dry (in sealed containers) and foil-packed (they float better than cans and the labels don’t wash off) food for at least two days for each person in your house
  • make sure you have a first-aid kit containing basic treatments for cuts and minor injuries
  • make sure you have hygiene packs for basic toiletry and personal needs for each person in you house
  • invest in a portable, butane gas stove and also invest in four replacement gas canisters
  • make sure you have at least four litres of drinking water, in clean containers, for each person in your house
  • make sure your mobile phone (and other communications devices) and battery packs are fully charged until the moment the electricity fails
  • if you own a vehicle or a generator set, fill the fuel tank
  • conduct a briefing for all persons in your house about what is available, how to use radio, flashlights, whistles and other gadgets, so that they know they are prepared and have no reason to panic
  • listen to the radio or television or use the Internet to obtain the latest information about the location and track of the storm
  • encourage your neighbors to do the same

Protective Measures DURING A Storm

  • do not go outside, not even to start a generator
  • stay away from windows
  • keep the radio tuned to a channel that provides local, news & weather updates
  • distract people in the house with stories, games, reading books or documenting their own account of the storm
  • eat at normal meal times
  • if possible, maintain six-hourly communications with someone who lives well away from the storm's path to let them know you are OK

Protective Measures AFTER A Storm

  • communicate with someone who lives well away from the storm’s path to let them know you have survived and what you may now need
  • do not go outside without a way to communicate with people in the house
  • do not go outside without a whistle
  • avoid areas of standing or flowing water
  • avoid areas where power poles/lines have fallen
  • document distressed locations that you may observe (to relay to emergency services)
  • help your neighbors where helping does not endanger your own life

If you are prepared, think safe and use common sense, you will survive a storm.

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