KINGSTON, Jamaica —The 2023 hurricane season is now underway and, fittingly, has started with a trough across the western Caribbean that has resulted in unstable weather conditions across Jamaica and the region.
The US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a 'near-normal' hurricane season in the Atlantic this year, which begins on June 1.
According to the NOAA forecasters with the Climate Prediction Center, the outlook for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, which ends on November 30, calls for a 40 per cent chance of a near-normal season, a 30 per cent chance of an above-normal season and a 30 per cent chance of a below-normal season.
NOAA is forecasting a range of 12 to 17 total named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher. It said of those storms, five to nine of them could become hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher, including one to four major hurricanes with winds in excess of 11 mpg or higher.
There are so many things that can go wrong during this season — like losing access to basic necessities such as light and water. Some persons may even have to evacuate their homes and find the nearest shelter.
The time to be prepared and be ready is now. Planning to protect the people and things you love as we enter hurricane season is essential. Do not try to prepare for a hurricane or any emergency when it happens or as an afterthought. Do it now!
Dangerous storms and hurricanes can lead to devastation, but OBSERVER ONLINE has compiled an emergency kit list so you can be better prepared for any eventuality.
•Flashlights and battery-operated lanterns: These can be helpful if the light ‘chips’ out during a hurricane. Just be sure to have extra batteries and bulbs so that they can serve you well for as long as the light may be gone. This may vary depending on the impact of the hurricane.
•Kerosene oil lamps/candles: These can also be lit around the house to maintain light if power is cut during the storm, but be sure to stock up on kerosene oil, matches and lighters. Also remember to keep them in a safe place.
•Water: Don’t forget to stock up on water. It is important to have enough water — one gallon per person per day — for each individual in the household for at least five days. The water will be used for both drinking and sanitation and this should be taken into consideration when storing it.
•Food: It is essential to have at least a five-day supply of non-perishable food items such as tin food, crackers, cereals, bread etc. Also, don’t forget to stock up on snacks (and try not to eat them all at once). It is also wise to stock up on plastic dishware and utensils that can be easily disposed of rather than wasting stored water on dishwashing.
•Coal: Don’t forget to stock up on your coal supply, particularly those with electric stoves. It will definitely come in handy if there is a power outage.
•First aid kit: This should be carefully considered when being prepared. Your first aid kit should have basic essentials such as painkillers, bandages, adhesive tape, antiseptic solution, a thermometer, tweezers and other over the counter medication for both children and adults. However, it is also very important to store special medication that some family members may need such as asthma inhalers and medication for diabetes, hypertension, heart conditions etc.
•Protective rain gear: If your family has to travel to a shelter during a hurricane, then protective rain gear such as raincoats, rain boots and umbrellas can be useful.
•Battery-powered radio: If the power goes out or telecommunication networks go down, a battery-operated radio can help you stay alert and aware of any rescue efforts.
•Cell phone charger and portable charger: It is necessary to stay connected during a hurricane. A portable charger is an effective way to extend your phone battery life. And, if you have to relocate to a shelter, then remember to pack your charger.
•Antibacterial wipes/towelettes & sanitisers: This is important to have in case you lose access to water. Having antibacterial wipes/towelettes and sanitisers will help you to maintain good hygiene while you cannot actively wash your hands and clean your house. We are also still in the midst of the pandemic, so safety is very important.
•Personal documents: In the unfortunate situation where you’ll have to evacuate your home and find the nearest shelter, it’s important to have your documents safely stored in a waterproof and portable container. These documents may include birth certificates, passports or any other identification cards, health cards, and other important documents such as legal and financial papers.
•Cash: During a hurricane, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to access banks and ATMs so it is important to have emergency cash stored away in your kit just in case.
•Masks: Masks can prove to be very useful if you have to relocate to a nearby shelter. The COVID-19 pandemic is still upon us and it is important to protect yourself and limit your risk of getting sick while in public spaces, especially within the context of a hurricane as diseases often spread more quickly in the aftermath.