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Safety Tips before, during and after a typhoon
What is a typhoon?
A typhoon is a type of large storm system having a circular or spiral system of violent winds, typically hundreds of kilometers or miles in diameter. The winds spiral around a region of low atmospheric pressure. “Typhoon” is the name of these storms that occur in the Western Pacific. “Hurricane” is the name given to these storms in the Atlantic Ocean and Eastern Pacific. In the Indian Ocean, they are called “Tropical Cyclones”. For stronger typhoons, a characteristic structure called the “eye” forms when the maximum wind speeds exceed about 85 miles per hour, or 140 kilometers per hour. The eye is a region of clear air with no clouds, and is a few tens of kilometers in diameter.
The energy that powers typhoons comes from the evaporation of warm ocean water. The water vapor rises to the top of the typhoon along the sides of the eye, then condenses into clouds. Warmer ocean water produces more powerful typhoons, which can grow into “super typhoons”.
Before a Typhoon
Storms aren’t just scary because of their powerful winds and the strong rain they bring; the chaos of a typhoon is also a prime time for injury, and conditions may make disease more likely. So first and foremost, your safety and that of your nearest and dearest should be your priority.
1. Be updated with the latest weather reports.
As an incoming weather disturbance is approaching the country, it is important to always keep yourself updated with the latest weather reports. Staying informed with the latest weather bulletins and following government announcements and warnings are the best starting points to prepare yourself and your families for the storm.
2. Make communication plans.
Make a family communication plans so that you can establish the whereabouts of all family members (and keep mobile phones charged!). Stay in contact but have a plan in case cell phone coverage disappears during the storm; like a predestined meet-up place where you can find each other once it is safe to go out again.
3. Protect your property by Cover up your windows and draw your blinds or curtains.
Secure your property before a storm hits by trimming trees, securing roofs and covering windows.Examine your house and repair its unstable parts. Harvest crops that can be yielded already. Secure domesticated animals in a safe place.
If you live in an area directly in the path of the storm, board up your windows or cover them with cardboard. You should also draw your blinds and curtains, as if these break and blow inward, debris will hopefully get caught by the blinds and curtains rather than flying into your home. It is also advisable to check your house’s drainage system for debris. If your home’s drainage system is efficient, this will lessen your chances of leaks and flooding due to backed-up drains and the like.
4. Check and top up your food and water supplies.
Make sure you have a good supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food as well as clean water you won’t need to access the tap for. You should also check that you have what’s needed to prepare the food (e.g., can openers and the like). Also check that you have filled pails with water in your bathroom in case the water gets turned off in your area, but also be careful to leave these covered so as not to provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
5. Charge up your power banks and emergency lights.
Chances are high that you’ll lose power at some point if the storm hits your area hard. In fact, even if it doesn’t, you may still experience some power outage. So make sure you have rechargeable lights you can leave around the house, and that these are charged before the storm hits, and make sure you have the ability to charge up your mobile phones if they run out of juice. Ensure you load a radio with batteries. You’ll want to be able to monitor the situation from the safety of your home, so make sure you have means to do so that isn’t reliant on roof-mounted satellites or cables that could be damaged by the storm.
6. Elevate your valuables and electronics.
Anything you don’t want to risk immersing in water should be moved to a higher level, preferably an upper floor if you have one. Just make sure not to stack things too high or to stack heavy items above shoulder level, as these could fall over and injure someone.
7. Identify an alternate safe area.
Should you need to evacuate, already have a plan as to where to go. Or if you are caught out in a storm, your family should know where you’re most likely to spend the night. This is likely to be a friend’s or relative’s house, so make sure you ask them in advance if it’s alright to stay with them should the typhoon necessitate it.
8. Obey evacuation orders.
Follow instructions from government officials on preemptive evacuation at all times. Move away from low-lying areas and stay away from the coasts and riverbanks. Evacuate calmly and as soon as possible. Do not wait for your situation to worsen before evacuating. Close the windows and turn off the main power switch of your house. Put important appliances and belongings in a high ground. When evacuating, avoid the way leading to the river.
During a Typhoon
1. Secure yourselves.
Stay in a safe place. It is important to be aware which areas are prone to floods, landslides etc. and which buildings are safe enough to withstand a typhoon. Do not go outside during the storm. In case of a threat of a storm surge, evacuate in a high place early. If possible, find a place that is higher than 500 meters from the bay if your community is in the direct track of the storm.
2. Stay inside as much as possible.
It’s likely that home is the safest place to be; certainly going outdoors in rough weather is a bad idea, not just because you could be lashed by wind, rain, and debris and floodwaters may have risen, but also because visibility is poor. This results in a higher risk of road accidents and other mishaps.
3. Keep everyone in your household calm.
Panic will make mistakes more likely, and this can lead to injuries or worse. What’s more, if you have family pets, they will most likely take your cue from you; if your family is calm, it’s likely your pet will be too, although make sure your pet is safe and indoors with you rather than outside at the mercy of the elements.
4. Monitor local radio.
Someone should be on the alert for evacuation warnings and other developments like blocked roads and the like. Radio stations are the most reliable source of news during a thunderstorm, provided your radio is battery-operated.
5. Be smart about food and water consumption.
Consume perishables first as you never know when the electricity might conk out. If the water is turned off in your area, you might want to save the water in those precious pails you filled up in the bathroom for quickly washing faces, arms, and legs or for a simple sponge bath instead of using these up bathing.
6. Only use your mobile phone for important things.
The power could go out at any time during a storm, and this may not be restored for days. So it’s a good idea to conserve your mobile phone’s batteries, especially if you have a smartphone that rarely lasts a day without charging. Turn off non-essential functions like WiFi, bluetooth, and cellular data, and avoid playing games, no matter how boring getting cooped up in the house might be.
7. If it starts to flood, turn off the main power.
You don’t want live outlets that could be waterlogged and charge any flood waters that might invade your home, so make sure all adults in the household know how to turn off the main power if need be. If there’s an option to turn off power on the ground level while maintaining power on upper levels, all the better.
8. If you must wade through flood waters, wash with clean water as soon as possible.
This is fairly self-explanatory as flood waters are visibly filthy, but we’ll add one more tip: if you have any open wounds or acquire them while walking in floods, make sure you disinfect and treat these right away.
9. Be wary of live wires or water-logged outlets
These could charge the floodwaters in the area, so if you see that your ground floor is flooded above outlet level and you weren’t able to turn off the power to your home, do not venture into the water, even if this is below knee level.
10. Immediately tend to any injuries.
We’ve already mentioned the importance of doing this should you walk through floodwater, but this is also important if anyone gets cuts or bruises from falling items or flying debris. And if anyone gets hit in the head, watch for symptoms of concussion.
After a Typhoon
1. Continue to be on alert.
Do not wade through floodwaters to avoid being electrocuted and contracting diseases. If your house is destroyed, make sure that it is stable before you enter. Watch out for live wires or outlet immersed in water. Report damaged electrical cables and fallen electric posts to the authorities. Avoid going to disaster-hit areas so as not to get in the way of rescue and emergency operations.
2. Continue to monitor news sites, radio stations, or TV channels.
This will help you keep abreast of what roads are passable, what areas are still at risk, and so on.
3. Run a check on electrical devices and equipment before using them.
Electrocution is a very real risk in the aftermath of a storm, so have an electrician check the wiring in your home as well as any appliances you might have. Also be sure that any electrical devices are thoroughly dried out before being used.
4. Wear protective gear while dealing with debris.
You don’t want to risk cutting yourself on rusty nails or pieces of tin from roofs or anything like that, so make sure you wear thick gloves (garden gloves should come in handy) when clearing your home of debris. You should also wear sturdy boots.
5. Check for contamination of your food and water.
If the power failed, throw out anything in your fridge that might have gone bad. Check your water supplies as well, and make sure you throw out anything that’s been exposed to rain water.
6. Dump water that may have accumulated in containers like pots, cans, etc.
You don’t want to have possible breeding grounds for dengue-bearing mosquitoes around your home, so if there is anything that might hold stagnant water, make sure you clear it as soon as possible.
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