HOW TO PREPARE FOR HURRICANE SEASON

The increased frequency and strength of natural disasters is a textbook consequence of our changing climate. 

For those who live on small island developing states (SIDS) like The Bahamas, we have witnessed first hand the destruction that Category 5 hurricanes like Matthew and Dorian can cause, especially when they occur back-to-back. Thus, with hurricane season rapidly approaching, it seems fitting to provide some advice to protect our safety and wellbeing, as well as potential ideas for eco-friendly hurricane preparedness (whenever possible!). 

GETTING READY!

Make A Plan

If you live in a low-lying area where evacuation may be necessary, make sure that you know ahead of time the location of your nearest hurricane shelter (list for all islands of The Bahamas attached here) and how you will get there. It can be a good idea to create a single point-of-contact for all family members and, if you have pets, have a plan for their evacuation as well.

Know Your Emergency Numbers

Grand Bahama:

  • Hospital – 352-6735
  • Ambulance – 352-2689
  • Fire – 919
  • Fire (Freeport) – 352-8888
  • Fire (Eight Mile Rock & West End) – 348-34444
  • BASRA – 322-3877 OR 325-8864
  • Police (Freeport) – 919
  • Police (Eight Mile Rock) 348-6444
  • Police (West End) 346-6444
  • Electrical Power Outage – 352-8411
  • Electrical Power Outage (Eight Mile Rock & West End) 348-2345
  • Water (Freeport) – 352-8411
  • Telephone Repairs – 914

Nassau:

  • Hospital – 322-2861
  • Ambulance – 322-2861
  • Air Ambulance – 327-7077
  • Fire – 919
  • BASRA – 646-6395 OR 359-4888
  • Police – 911, 919 OR 322-4444
  • Electrical Power Outage – 323-5561/4
  • Water & Sewerage 24 hrs – 325-0505 OR 325-4505

Abaco Islands:

  • Ambulance: 367-2911 ; 359-6282
  • Police – Marsh Harbour: 367-2560; 367-3437 ; 919
  • Police – Hope Town: 366-0667
  • Police – Man-O-War: 365-6911
  • Police – Treasure Cay: 365-8048
  • Police – Green Turtle Cay: 365-4133
  • Abaco Family Medicine: 367-2295
  • Abaco Medi-Center: 367-7999
  • Fire – Marsh Harbour: 367-2000; 367-3752
  • Fire – Hope Town: 366-0549
  • Fire – Green Turtle Cay: 365-4019
  • Fire – Guana Cay: 365-5178
  • Fire – Man-O-War: 365-4019
  • Fire – Treasure Cay: 365-9111; 365-8919
  • BASRA: 475-1389 ; 366-0549

Prepare An Emergency Kit

Make sure that you gather all of your essentials – flashlights, a portable radio, extra batteries, non-perishable food, bottled water, cash, blankets, clothing, first-aid kit, and toiletries.

Secure the Exterior

To prevent loss of life and property damage, secure your outside area as much as possible. This can entail trimming large trees and shrubs and bringing all outside furniture, potted plants, and bikes indoors. Move cars to higher ground or park them in your garage against the garage doors. Do not park under trees, power lines, or in low-lying areas. If necessary, make sure to secure outdoor sculptures with burlap or blankets tied with rope.

Seal Your Windows

Protect your windows and doors with appropriate shutters or impact-resistant glass. You can also nail pieces of plywood (or another material such as pallets (DIY storm shutter tutorial video)) to window frames as an alternative means of protection.

Power Up

Thorfire Hand Crank Solar Powered Rechargeable Flashlight

Make sure that your car has a full tank of gas in the event of an emergency. Also, make sure that you charge your cell phone and other devices ahead of time, test your generator, and have fuel-ready in case of power outages.

Secure Important Documents

As a good rule of thumb, remember to keep copies of important documents such as birth certificates, passports, and insurance cards in something waterproofs like Pridegreen Biodegradable zip lock bags and upload electronic copies to your device Cloud ahead of time. 

ECO-FRIENDLY IDEAS (if possible)!

Hurricane Season is already a stressful enough time as it is, even without the added element of making your preparations more sustainable. Thus, there is absolutely no pressure to make your hurricane preparedness more eco-friendly, however, if this is something that is accessible for you or if you’re simply just curious, here are a few ideas! 

Water

Sources recommend you have a three day supply of water on hand for every person in your household. That means about three gallons of water per person, to use for drinking and cleaning. To be more sustainable, rather than buy cases of plastic water bottles, fill up gallon-sized water jugs with filtered tap water. You can also use pitchers, thermoses, large water bottles, and even cooking pots.

Food

Buy snacks and other non-perishables in larger containers instead of single-serve to eliminate some unnecessary waste. Also, when thinking about what to buy, get non-perishables that you would normally eat to ensure that food gets eaten even after the power outage and doesn’t go to waste. 

Essentials

Although I normally wouldn’t advocate for paper materials, it can be far too much to wash dishes or clean rags during an extended power outage, especially if you need to conserve water. Therefore, try to look for paper plates made with recycled content, or invest in some plates made from sugarcane byproducts. Also, use reusable cups.

Eco-Friendly Items to Include in Your Emergency Kit

This article by Eco Warrior Princess includes a list of eco-friendly items to consider adding to your emergency kit including (but not limited to): hand-crank chargers, eco-friendly first aid kits, and a solar generator. A similar list was created by Kathryn, Going Zero Waste. 

If you have any questions or other tips or ideas that you think should be added to this list, feel free to reach out to me at theecogal@gmail.com. Stay safe everyone!

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