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Hurricane Tips

Here are some helpful tips to get you ready this hurricane season.

Before a Hurricane threatens

  • Look over your insurance policy to insure 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.
  • Organize a place to meet with your family should you become separated during the storm.
  • Clear your yard and drains of debris.
  • Prune trees 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 advanced where you will stay. Call the ODPEM Disaster Co-ordinator 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 disorders; register in advance with the nearest Parish Council Office and the Office of Disaster Preparedness.

When a hurricane threatens

  • Turn refrigerator and freezer to the coldest level. Freeze water in plastic containers.
  • Sanitize bath tubs and fill with water.
  • Tie down or bring in all outdoor objects (such as awnings, patio furniture, garbage cans).
  • Secure or remove satellite dishes, TV or radio antennae from roofs.
  • Pick fruits such as coconuts, mangoes etc., from trees. Clear your yard and drains of debris.
  • Remove all pictures, clocks, books, figurines, tools, office equipment, appliances and important papers (passports, birth certificates etc.); wrap them in plastic or in waterproof containers; and store in a safe room.
  • Turn off electricity at the main switch and remove TV and radio antennae from roofs.
  • Stock up on water and non-perishable foods. Refill prescriptions needed.
  • Fill your car with gas to avoid long lines after the hurricane. Also fill containers for portable generators.
  • Park your car in a place that is safest from falling trees and utility poles.
  • If you are in a high-rise, know the location of the nearest stairways. Don't use the elevator.
  • Batten down windows and doors with shutters or lumber. Wedge sliding glass doors with a bar.
  • Turn off electricity from main switch 24 hours before the storm is expected to hit.
  • Unplug major appliances.

During the hurricane

  • Be calm! Your ability to act logically is very important.
  • Stay inside. Do not go outside unless it is absolutely necessary
  • Stay away from windows and doors even if they are covered. A windowless or interior room or hallway is usually the safest.
    Listen to the radio for information
  • If you are in a two-storey house, stay on the first floor.
  • If you are in a multiple-storey building, take refuge on the first or second floors. Interior stairwells and areas around elevator shafts are usually the strongest part of a building.
  • If your house shows signs of breaking up, stay under a table or stand under a door frame.
  • Do not go outside during the calm when the eye of the hurricane is passing.

After the storm

  • Wait until you hear on the radio or television that the dangerous winds are definitely out of your area.
  • Do not go sight-seeing
  • Do not go outside barefooted. Avoid wearing open shoes and watch out for sharp debris
  • Do not use phones or CB radios unless vital. Keep lines clear for emergency calls.
  • Bury all dead animals as soon as possible.
  • Beware of downed power lines, weakened bridges and washed-out roads, and weakened trees.
  • Purify drinking water by boiling or by adding bleach, 2 drops of bleach per litre of water, 4 drops if the water is cloudy. Do not purify all your water at once.
  • After adding bleach, let water stand for 30 minutes before drinking
  • Use perishable food first , then non- perishable foods and staples after.
  • Do not cook more than is needed for one meal
  • Be alert to prevent fires
  • Report broken sewer or water mains to local authorities
  • Be sure to check your house for structural damage before moving back in.

Emergency Supply Basic List

  • Water, enough to last 2 weeks
  • Foods that do not require cooking:
  • Canned or salted fish and meat
  • Packaged oats
  • Biscuits and crackers
  • Condensed or powdered milk
  • Canned soups and vegetables
  • Juices
  • Cereals
  • Coffee, Tea.
  • Flour, Rice, Cornmeal, Sugar and Salt
  • Infant formula
  • Bread

Emergency Supply Extended List

  • Battery-operated radio
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Matches and candles, Hurricane lamps
  • Bleach and other cleaners
  • First Aid Kit: petroleum jelly, aspirin, eye wash, bandages, cotton, diarrhoea medication, antacid , laxative
  • Tissue, soap, sanitary napkins
  • Disposable cups, plates, utensils
  • Can opener
  • Large plastic trash bags
  • Containers for water and fuel storage
  • Coal or oil stove, barbeque grill
  • Cooking utensils
  • Portable cooler
  • 100 feet of rope, Tape
  • Needle and thread, scissors
  • Blankets and towels
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Tarpailin (canvas or plastic)

Storage tips for water and food

  • Store enough water to last 2 weeks for each person in your household. A normal active person requires a minimum of 1 litre of water per day for drinking and food preparation.
  • Water should be stored in clean, well covered containers.
  • 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 and crackers, dry good in plastic bags and keep in tight containers.
  • Your storage area should be dry, cool and free from contamination by insects, poisons and other chemicals.
  • Several utility poles were uprooted and their wires and equipment left dangling on the roads after Hurricane Gilbert.

Evacuation and shelters

A shelter provides temporary housing for persons unable to continue their living arrangements in separate family units, as a result of an emergency incident such as flood, earthquake or hurricane.

It is advised to evacuate your home if:

  • In an area that continually floods, near the coastline or a stream likely to overflow, in a low-lying area,
  • you feel that your home will not offer adequate protection
  • advised by authorities
  • Take your own supplies to the shelter including food, change of clothes, medicine, sanitary need, battery-operated radio and flashlight important papers.
    Do not take alcoholic beverages, weapons or pets to shelters.

Below are the numbers for the various emergency centres.


National EOC (ODPEM) 876 906-9674/5 876 754-9078/9

Kingston and St Andrew: Terry-Ann Forrester - 876 967-3329, 876 922-0254
Portmore: Phillippa Ricketts - 876 740-0789, 876 740-7440-2
Clarendon: Eleanor Coombs 876 986-2216, 876 986-2234
Hanover: Kenisha Stennett-Dunbar 876 956-2426, 876 956-2947, 876 958-2305
Manchester: LaJean Powell -Richards 876 962-2278-9, 876 962-0612
Portland: Denise Lewis - 876 993-2165
St Ann: Alvin Clarke - 876 972-2615-6
St Catherine: Patricia Lewis - 876 984-3111-2
St. Elizabeth: Ornella Lewis - 876 634-0768,
St James: Tamoy Sinclair - or 876 952-5500-2
St Mary: Yolande Williams-Jankie - 876 577-8307 or 876 994-2212 876 994-2648
St. Thomas: Martina Medley 876 982-9449, 876 932-2227
Trelawny: Dion Hylton-Lewis - 876 397-2269 or 876 954-3228/ 4838
Westmoreland: Hilma Tate - 876 287-2397 or 876 955-2798 876 955-2654


Jamaica Gleaner 2003-2023

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