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Hurricane Safety Tips


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A hurricane is a violent warm-core tropical storm with a minimum wind speed of 119 km or (74 mph) rotating in a counter-clockwise spiral around a region of low pressure called the center of the eye.
The weather pattern between June and December is significantly influenced by the Northward shift of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone and cyclonic instability, which leads to the formation of easterly waves, storms, and hurricanes.
While hurricane winds move in a spiraling counter-clockwise direction, the hurricane itself moves with the basic motion of the trade winds in which it is embodied.

The official hurricane season starts on June 1 and continues till November 30 annually. The period is usually a rainy one even if a hurricane does not develop.

Hurricane Banner

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) advises:

When preparing for a hurricane, ensure you do the following:

  • Check on these emergency items: water, boots, raincoats, flashlights and batteries, battery-powered radio, hurricane lamp, matches, hurricane shutters, hooks and latches.
  • Keep plastic bags, nails, hammer and other tools handy.
  • Have on hand simple first aid supplies.
  • Stock 4-5 days supply of food that does not need cooking or refrigeration.
  • Make sure you have material for battening up doors and windows.
  • See that galvanized sheeting on your roofs, out-buildings and fences are securely fastened.
  • If your house is in a high risk area, subject to a storm surge (tidal wave) or flooding, be sure you know of a safe shelter; preferably with relatives or friends.
  • Trim trees with branches near to buildings or electrical lines. Also pick fruits off trees as these can be carried by the wind and cause further damage.
  • Be sure to understand the hurricane warning system. That is the three phases – Alert, Watch and Warning. These are indicators of how far away the hurricane is from your location.
  • Keep in touch with your Parish Disaster Preparedness Committee and know how the committee works.


What to do Before, During and After a Hurricane:

At the Start of the Hurricane Season:

  • Check thoroughly the roof of your house, hurricane shutters, hooks and latches and repair where necessary.
  • Make sure that galvanized sheeting on the roof of your house is properly fastened.
  • Keep in stock extra plastic bags and sheets of plastic. Plastic is essential to prevent important documents, paintings, equipment and furniture from getting wet.
  • Keep handy a supply of lumbar, plywood, timber, etc. for battening down purposes.
  • Trim trees that touch power lines or hang over the house and other buildings.
  • Make sure that emergency cooking facilities such as coal stoves are in good working condition as these may be necessary.
  • Make sure you have a supply of kerosene and coal. Keep coal dry by wrapping in a plastic bag or other waterproof material.
  • Latch down securely all small buildings in the yard such as outdoor kitchens, pit latrines, tool sheds, barns, etc.
  • Store extra food, especially things that can be eaten without cooking or which need very little preparation. Electricity may be off during a hurricane, leaving you without refrigeration.
  • Place emergency food supply in a waterproof container and store in a closed box, cupboard or trunk.
  • Make sure you have emergency equipment in your home. These include waterboots, raincoats, flashlights, batteries, portable radio, kerosene lamps and matches.
  • Have simple first-aid equipment such as iodine, bandages, eye lotion, etc. at home.

During a Hurricane:

  • Do not go outside unless it is absolutely necessary. When the winds get very strong, you are in danger of being hit by flying objects.
  • Children should not be taken outside, since they may be in danger of being blown away.
  • If you are away from home, remain where you are until the hurricane has passed. Many people have lost their lives trying to go from one place to another.
  • Keep a hurricane lamp burning, as it may make the night more tolerable.
  • If the house shows signs of breaking up, stay under a table or stand in a sturdy closet.
  • Be prepared for material falling from the ceiling.
  • If your glass windows have not been boarded up, place a large heavy object in front of the window to protect yourself and others from splintering glass.
  • Be calm! Your ability to act logically is important.
  • Listen to the radio for information on what is happening.

After a Hurricane:

  • Seek medical attention at first-aid stations, hospitals or clinics for persons injured during the storm.
  • Do not touch loose or dangling electrical wires. Report these to the power company, the nearest police station or parish council.
  • Report all broken sewer or water mains directly to the parish council, the public works department or water resources authority for your area.
  • Immediately after the hurricane don’t use stored water for washing houses, cars and watering gardens until normal water services have been restored.
  • Do not empty water stored in bathtubs or other receptacles until safe drinking water is restored.
  • Boil all drinking water until you are sure that a safe water supply has been restored.
  • Watch out for fallen trees. Collect fallen branches and other debris and pile them where they can be easily collected.
  • Do not go outside barefooted. Avoid wearing open shoes and watch out for broken glass.


As a statutory body, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) operates out of the Office of the Prime Minister with a Board of Management overseeing its activities.

Jamaican Office for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM)

The ODPEM has the unique role of being the only government agency to provide disaster management functions in Jamaica. Its operations are designed towards:

  • Developing and implementing policies and programmes for the purpose of achieving and maintaining an appropriate state of national preparedness for natural disasters and other emergency events.
  • To encourage and support disaster preparedness and mitigation measures in all parishes in association with Local Government authorities, community based organizations and private and voluntary agencies.
  • Providing early warning, emergency response, relief and recovery operations in emergency situations.
  • Advocating and supporting risk reduction measures.
  • Providing training in all areas of disaster management.
  • Promoting a greater national awareness for disaster management issues through public education and awareness.
  • Conducting hazard identification and risk assessments.
  • Conducting research in social behaviour in relation to disaster mitigation an response .
  • Establishing and maintaining mutual assistance and co-operation agreements among partner agencies, private sector and international donor organizations.

See also:

Hurricane Safety Tips for specific groups »

Be Prepared: 2016 Hurricane Season & Disaster Preparedness Month

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