Hurricane Irma, now down to a category one hurricane, has flooded streets and homes with it’s storm surge, ripped out trees, cut power to millions, and toppled massive construction cranes along Miami’s skyline as if they were children’s toys.
The storm, which has been recorded as one of the most powerful ever from the Atlantic in decades, made landfall on Sunday as a category four storm with 210kph winds in the Florida Keys off the state’s southern tip at 9:10am local time. The record breaking storm continues to move north, up along Florida’s west coast towards Tampa.
It’s more important than ever for Hispanics in Florida to know the health risks they face in the wake of this natural disaster, and what flood safety tips will help them stay safe during Hurricane season.
13 Hurricane Safety Tips in Order to Avoid Illness, Injury, and Loss
Rising flood waters in these disasters surprise many people inland, especially in a major city like Houston after Harvey, who never expect to suffer injuries or see drownings from water rising several feet within hours. Water safety and risks are the most important factors you must understand in this type of disaster, so let’s go over a few hurricane safety tips.
- If you can before the storm, take photos of every room of your house, key documents you possess, every piece of electronics, and everything valuable, and upload the pictures to a web-based cloud, so you can have them for insurance purposes.
- Buy lots of duct tape and plastic bags. You can pick up from store or order online via amazon. Also a LED flash light for every member of the family will come in handy.
- Use dishwasher, washing, and dryer machines like safes, storing valuables in multiple plastic bags inside. Its a good place to store photos, for example. As well, store items on top shelves on top floors of closets in plastic bags.
- Fill water in plastic bag and place in freezer to keep refrigerator cold for food supplies. Avoid opening the fridge as much as possible.
- If you have a car, think about where you are going to park it. High parking garages that are inland are ideal.
- Buy bug spray and/or mosquito repellant. Mosquitos thrive after a flood bringing diseases like Dengue, West Nile Virus, or Zika.
- Do not count on your cellphone for communication, though have it charged going into the storm and if possible use a charging block during the storm.
- Keep in mind flood waters affect our pets just as much as us, so do not let them drink the water either!
- Sanitation and personal hygiene are essential to avoid fecal contamination, so if you can, take a shower and wash clothes and dishes before the storm begins.
- If you go to top floors, bring an ax with you to break through the roof.
- Flood water is usually contaminated and toxic to your health, so do not drink it. Contaminated floodwater contains sewage, disease, agricultural runoff, and toxic chemicals. Contaminated flood Waters create wound infections, and also made you suseptible to cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis A.
- High winds usually means downed power lines in the streets, making water in the streets unsafe to wade through. You could get electrocuted.
- After the storm, remember storm surges create and leave toxic mold in homes, that must be evaluated afterwards.
If charged and service is still available, use your mobile phones to access emergency services and stay informed! Government sites like the CDC and the American Red Cross will provide bilingual access to lifesaving advice to get you through this. Share your questions and concerns on our Facebook page as well. We will be discussing how to deal with the mental and physical stress you are experiencing. We are here, as one community, to help.