With the start of the 2006 hurricane season on 1 June, residents are reminded that planning ahead for a possible disaster can be the difference between comfort and discomfort, losing or keeping valuable possessions, life and death, says a GIS press release.
Nothing in life is risk free and many things are unpredictable. For every new day we face, there is some measure of the unknown. It is therefore only the plans that we make beforehand that will equip us to face these risks with some measure of confidence.
The first step in hurricane preparedness is ensuring that you are adequately informed. Start by learning all there is to know about hurricanes, how they can affect Cayman and how to prepare. Most importantly make sure you know about the area in which you reside. Information such as its height above sea level and flood history can be very useful when purchasing supplies and can help determine how safe your area is.
Remember however, that new construction – roads, buildings etc. – can make flooding more likely even if it was not previously a problem in your area. Areas having a history of flooding are the West Bay Peninsula, Red Bay, Prospect, Savannah, central George Town, areas around the North Sound, low lying areas of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. The Lands and Survey Department can be contacted at 914-3427 for further information on elevation in your area.
Learn the location of official public shelters and emergency medical centres; more importantly note the ones that are closest to you.
Step two in the preparation process is to devise a comprehensive plan. Decide from the outset where you will go if your house isn’t safe. Make sure the house you choose to shelter in is well constructed and on high ground or has a foundation high enough to avoid inundation. If you own a boat, decide where to store it in the event of an emergency. Most importantly ensure that your home and property insurance coverage are up to date.
A few other things you should note include:
• Trim deadwood from trees and cut back overhanging branches.
• Check and repair loose gutters around the roof and downspouts.
• Check and repair loose or damaged roofing; install hurricane roof straps if you do not already have them installed.
• Check your hurricane shutters or plywood covers and the tools you need to install them. Practice installing them.
• Stock up on plywood. Get it measured, cut and labelled for each opening if you do not have shutters.
• Install properly constructed garage doors if you can afford to. Use wood or metal planks to reinforce the doors from the inside if a hurricane warning is issued. If you cannot afford commercial garage doors, purchase plywood sheets to nail over the openings and wooden planks to reinforce.
• Stock up on hurricane supplies. Begin collecting enough non-perishable food, water, first aid, and other survival supplies to last each person about a week. To diffuse cost, the items can be purchased a little at a time by picking up some extras with each trip to the supermarket.
• Do not forget to stock up on any prescription medication your family may need, especially items for the young and elderly.
• During hurricane season keep your vehicle’s gas tank more than half full at all times.
• Inspect your cistern and get it cleaned; also make arrangements to have your cesspool emptied.
• For insurance claims you should take pictures of your house, inside and out, furniture and equipment. Secure the pictures in a safe place.
Preparation is key. The National Hurricane Committee and GIS have revised and made available the Cayman Prepared Resident Hurricane Information Kit with a more comprehensive list of tips. These are available at all CUC locations and the GIS office at Cricket Square on Elgin Avenue.
For more information on hurricane preparedness visit www.caymanprepared.ky