The list of things not to do as related to hurricanes could be limitless. The severity of the conditions alone will prevent a lot of people from doing senseless things, but there are still some that always make me wonder. Being out in the field during the storm as a hurricane chaser, some things have stood out. Even though I’m “out in the storm”, I’m typically trying to minimize my risk by finding a safe spot to be in and having a back-up spot, always hoping I don’t become news myself. I will spell out just a small sampling for you here to get your mind rolling. To start, generally doing anything outside during a hurricane is something not to do.
- Land Sailing – This was a new one that I saw during Hurricane Irene where two people stood on separate skateboards and held a large piece of cloth in between each of them in order to act as a sail and push them down the street in the wind. It probably was fun but also dangerous. Not just because of the wind itself, although I’m sure a really strong gust could have sent them flying and falling at a high rate of speed into the pavement, but also because the street was lined with trees. Large limbs had already fallen and more could have come crashing down onto the sailing duo. Watch the video to check out hurricane land sailing and what NOT to do.
- Driving – I’ve seen this in every single hurricane that I have chased. People decide to head out for any number of reasons. Most of them are pretty lame and all of them put you in harms way. Not everyone is going to get hurt, and not everyone will get damage to their vehicles, but it does happen. People died in Hurricane Irene from this. For some reason they tend to have an excuse to head out during the worst part of the storm. Whatever it is, it can probably wait at least a couple of hours till things calm down some. During Hurricane Igor in Bermuda, a woman decided to leave her home to come to work and charge her cell phone since they still had power, all while the worst of the storm passed over. Charge your cell phones ahead of time people!
- Taping Windows – As every hurricane approaches, people are out buying tape and applying it to their windows. This is a waste of money and a waste of time. It provides no protection against glass breakage. In fact it could create larger pieces of flying glass if your taped window does break. Larger pieces of flying glass sounds like more danger to me. Of course, if the hurricane happens to be strong enough and there is debris flying at your windows, you should probably hide in an interior room, hallway, bathroom, or closet without windows to minimize risk.
- Waiting Till It’s Too Late - Putting up your shutters after the winds are blowing at tropical storm force is a bad idea. Holding large pieces of metal and wood in high winds while you climb a ladder and balance power tools is not smart and not safe. Trying to protect yourself and your home is good and all, just don’t wait till it’s dangerous to do it. This rule also goes for just about everything else you could have waited too long to finish. Do not panic in the middle of hurricane and decide that you now want to evacuate. If conditions are bad enough that you have panicked, it’s probably too late to leave your home and still be safe. Be sure you are in your safe place beforehand. Most preparations will have you outside or driving, which are both rules not to break when you have bad weather going on. Get it all done early.
Typically watches and warnings are issued to give you notice of the impending weather. Emergency managers take the weather information they are given and decide on the precautions that need to be taken for your particular location. They will give you a time table and let you know when to have all your preparations completed. Follow the guidelines they give you. If you feel you need more time because of special circumstances, you may need to adjust your timetables. While land sailing, kite surfing, sightseeing, and heading out for “other good reasons” might seem okay during a hurricane, they probably aren’t and just put you in harms way. Wait a few hours or maybe give it a day or so, and conditions will probably be much more favorable for your safety. For more information on hurricane safety and preparedness check out the links below.