This article was first printed in DAWN Magazine on 2nd Nov 2014



If you happened to listen to the local media most just raised an alarm about the impending cyclone and potential damage it could cause. What went missing though were public service messages from the authorities on how to prepare for a cyclone. What to do with your homes? Where to go? What are the emergency numbers that residents could call? Were the hospitals prepared to handle potentially large number of casualties?

Well what we can do here is provide you with a basic guide to cyclone preparedness. By the time this prints the cyclone may well have passed, but this will serve as a handy reference for the future and also for similar emergencies.

Do you know how to be prepared for a really, really rainy day? Read on

Before the Cyclone

Make a list of all items you may need to bring inside in the event of the storm

Secure your property, board up windows with plywood that can easily be fixed in place

Trim trees and shrubs around the house (as winds can topple them over)

Clear all drains on the roof

Ensure you have sufficient water supply both for drinking and for sanitary purposes.

Keep water purifier pills in stock

Refresh the first aid kits with essential medicines

Secure any loose items in the yard or on the balcony such as movable clothes lines, buckets, garden chairs, flower pots etc.

Stock up on candles, match sticks, dry food items

Stock up on batteries and torches

Recharge all torches and rechargeable fans, lights

If you live in a low lying area prepare sand bags and plastic sheets to seal entrances and prevent flooding of your home. Remember once the warning has been issued you must leave the low-lying areas for safer grounds

If you have pets that are kept outside plan to bring them in quickly

Monitor the news channels on tv, radio and internet for information

Prepare your grab-bag and keep it in a easily accessible location

Keep some cash with you as banks and ATMs may be inaccessible for a significant duration

Keep phones charged. Even if the networks go down initially you should keep your phones charged for when connections are restored

Immediately recharge your prepaid mobile and internet accounts (especially if you are low on balance)

Ensure that family members are well rehearsed in how to reach a safe location and to communicate in case they’re spilt up when the cyclone hits

Designate a secure room within the house. (The room should have the least amount of windows and should be towards the middle of the structure)

Fill up your car tank. In case of an evacuation you may have to drive long distances

Turn the fridge and freezer to the coldest settings. Opening and closing only when needed and doing so quickly. This will keep perishable food items edible for longer periods.

Once cyclone watch begins and during the cyclone

Stay indoors until the authorities declare it safe to step out. Remember: don’t step out even if the weather appears to have calmed down as it could be temporary lull

Put valuables, especially important documents (IDs, passports, house, vehicle ownerships) in water proof containers

If you are caught out on the streets then move to a secure building and take shelter. Don’t stay on the streets

Continue to monitor the news feeds wherever possible

Switch off the gas to geysers and other appliances

Unplug all small electrical appliances as they may burn out in a power surge

Expect extended rainfall and subsequent flooding: If the waters begin to rise lay the sandbags at the entrances to block the water

Keep away from the windows even if they’ve been shuttered closed.

Bring the pets inside

Park your vehicles under a secure shelter where items flying through the air can’t strike them

If your home is significantly damaged make sure you move to a safe location within your immediate neighbourhood

After the cyclone

Continue to monitor the news feeds to be alert to any other risks such as major gas leaks, power lines tripping, oil pipelines rupturing/spilling etc.

Stay alert for more rain and floods even after the storm has weakened

Stay away from the flood waters

Drive only if absolutely necessary. Remember roads could be significantly damaged

Stay on firm ground and avoid walking over debris

Wear closed shoes or slippers as open toe shoes may result in injury from sharp objects

Help others where possible to do so without endangering yourself

Avoid areas that are declared disaster zones

Avoid loose wires or other power cabinets and poles

Look for electrical damages

Only switch on electrical appliances that are not wet

Use electrical torches when examining the house and not candles in case of gas leaks

Don’t turn on the gas supply and make sure any open valves are closed. Leaks from damaged lines could trigger explosions

Check for damage to water and sewage lines

Do not pump the water from the underground tank to the overhead tanks. The water most likely will have been polluted

Open the doors and windows to ventilate and dry the home

Check the fridge and discard spoilt food immediately

Use water prudently as the regular water supply may not resume for days

When moving on the roads remember billboards may be weakened and if not down already could fall at any time. Same goes for trees.

If the basement of the home or building is flooded pump out water gradually to avoid structural damage as walls could collapse from the outsider water pressure.

It is important to understand that while a cyclone may not directly strike your area the associated rains could cause significant difficulties, too. Therefore always plan for the worst and hope for the best. Stay safe.

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