NOVEMBER to April is Fiji’s official cyclone season and with this period now upon us, preparations should be a priority for every household.
Cyclones are tracked by the Fiji Meteorological Service, which will inform the public of any expected cyclones several days before their arrival. This extra time should be spent securing property, planning any necessary evacuations and stocking up on essentials.
Your compound is a practical start.
- Trim trees and branches near your house, particularly if they hang overhead.
- Clear your compound of any loose objects that could be blown about and cause injury or damage. These may include old tyres, empty bottles piled against the house, outdoor furniture and exposed laundry areas.
- For exposed vehicles that are not sheltered by proper garages, a secure place is necessary to keep them under cover.
- Keep materials and tools nearby, to secure or repair windows, doors and roofs. Tarpaulin, duct tape and boards are helpful for this.
- Put up hurricane shutters, or use boards and aluminium sheets to cover windows and other exposed, volatile areas like glass surfaces.
- Keep a list of emergency numbers in a handy location, because you may need to contact local health, police or municipal authorities and family and friends.
This is important and a necessary supply for you and your family while confined inside your home, as the cyclone passes overhead. Most shops and convenience centres will be closed during the cyclone so ensure you have everything you need at home, especially if a loved one has dietary or medical needs.
Your emergency kits should include:
- Food and drinking water for 3 days. Canned or non-perishable food and bottled water (at least 3 litres per person per day) are great to have on hand, in case electricity is disrupted or tap water becomes contaminated or inconsistent with supply.
- Medical aids like bandages, medicine or ointments are also necessary to treat injury that could arise from cyclone damage, or a family member that could fall sick during the cyclone.
- Water rations for washing, cooking and cleaning
- Primus or gas barbecue
- Spare batteries to operate torches or radio,
- Blankets and warm clothing for keeping comfortable during the windy and wet spell of the cyclone
- Wind and rain-proof clothing
Ensure that your radio is functioning, for cyclone-related news and announcements. If you own a vehicle, ensure it has a full tank in case you need to evacuate or make other urgent trips. Also keep an eye out for family and neighbours, as hazards are likely.
During and after a cyclone
As the cyclone passes overhead, remain indoors, in the strongest and most secure part of your home or building. Avoid exposure to the elements, so stay away from windows or vulnerable surfaces.
Know where everybody is and make a consistent headcount if there are many people, particularly children.
Once you are certain that the cyclone has gone, check your compound for any harmful debris like pieces of glass or exposed nails. It would also be wise to check on neighbours, particularly elderly ones or other vulnerable groups.
Drive carefully and patiently, as roads and access routes will be covered in debris. Avoid going near fallen power lines, damaged roads and landslides.
Do not let children and youngsters play near drains, culverts or storm waters and flooded areas. They may drown, get swept away or be injured by floating debris. As tap water could also be contaminated, all drinking water should be boiled to avoid the risk of infection.
Investing in time and tools that will secure property and your family’s safety is important, because as Tropical Cyclone Winston and other major catastrophes have taught us, forces of nature cannot be underestimated.
For suitable cyclone cover, visit TOWER Insurance www.towerinsurance.com.fj. Suva: TOWER House, Thomson Street | 3315955 | Short code 5496 + 5497 .Nadi: Shop 3, Airport Central Complex, Namaka | 6661899 | Short Code 5498