How to survive a Hurricane: guidelines and useful tips

Hurricanes pose a real threat to those in affected areas. Knowing what to do and taking the right precautions can mean the difference between life and death

Updates from the Caribbean

These days people are talking about the powerful Hurricane Beryl, the first recorded Category 4 hurricane at the beginning of the season. It is a very rare event. With 210 km/h winds, equivalent to an F5 on the Fujita scale, the tornado is terrorizing the Windward Islands in the West Indies. Experts fear that in the next few hours it could even reach Category 5, the maximum intensity level for a hurricane, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Cyclone, Hurricane or Typhoon?

A Hurricane is nothing more than a Cyclone, or Typhoon, that forms in the Ocean in summer or fall, with sustained winds of 119 km/h. (64 knots/32.9 m/s). It is characterized by a well-defined hot-core low-pressure vortex, or center, around which numerous storm fronts spiral, producing strong winds and heavy rainfall in the areas affected by their passage. Cyclones are produced as a result of heat released from the ocean and are fed by the latent heat of condensation released into the air by condensing water vapor.

Hazards and Damage of a Hurricane

The damage a hurricane can cause in a population center can be devastating and varied in nature, both to infrastructure and environment and to the civilian population.

  • Infrastructure damage: High winds can cause houses and public buildings to collapse, uncover roofs, potentially causing collapses, broken windows and doors, and damage to roads, bridges, power and telephone lines isolating communities and hampering relief efforts.
  • Environmental damage: Heavy rains and storm surges that can cause coastal and inland flooding, and coastal erosion, putting homes, infrastructure and beach areas at risk.
  • Civilian Damage: Powerful wind gusts, collapses, and flying debris can cause severe trauma and injury stress and psychological distress, both in those directly affected and rescuers.

The action and equipment of rescuers

In the event of a hurricane, rescuers face an immense challenge: saving lives and limiting damage in often chaotic and dangerous conditions. First and foremost, the rescuers’ priority is to locate trapped or injured people and arrange for their rescue. In the event of imminent danger, they work to evacuate people from areas at risk of flooding or collapse, provide initial medical care to the injured, operating ambulances and first aid centers set up in safe areas, and work to restore essential services such as water, electricity and communications, allowing communities to gradually return to normal.

Carrying out all these operations requires the proper equipment, which includes:

  • Safety equipment: helmets, body armor, gloves, masks and other protection to ensure one’s safety during relief operations.
  • Rescue vehicles: all-terrain vehicles, inflatable boats and helicopters to reach affected areas and bring aid to people in distress.
  • Search and rescue equipment: sonar, drones, thermal cameras, and devices to detect people under rubble.
  • First aid kits.
  • Means of communication: radios, satellite phones and other communication systems to stay in touch with the base and coordinate operations.

Sources and Images

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