Please note – the views in the following feature are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Safe Travels Magazine. Before travel, we recommend that you always do your own research, read travel advisories and buy appropriate travel insurance.

Brandon Thompson, Managing Director, Drum Cussac

Twitter: @DrumCussac

Brandon Thompson is the Managing Director of Drum Cussac Inc. executing their global growth strategy in the Americas. Brandon holds a Master’s in Business Administration and Entrepreneurship a from the University of Florida.

Tips to help you stay safe during and after a hurricane

The Atlantic hurricane season is the period of the year when tropical storms are most active and likely to form hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. It runs from late May through to the end of November, and the regions most severely impacted include the east coast of the United States, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

Hurricanes pose a range of hazards to business travellers and organisations with employees working remotely or as expats in at-risk regions. With duty of care falling at the feet of the employer, it is essential to ensure that travellers understand the risks they face and how best to stay safe during and after a hurricane. Here, our travel risk management experts share their top tips for survival during and after a hurricane:

Staying safe during a hurricane

As a hurricane approaches, listen to the instructions issued by local authorities, including any evacuation orders. If you are advised to evacuate, you should do so immediately by any means necessary, including by commercial flight, chartered plane or boat.

Anybody forced to remain in-situ should:

  • Stay indoors at all costs – flying debris is one of the biggest killers in a storm
  • Shelter in the strongest part of the building, such as an interior room with no windows
  • Stay away from windows, doors and skylights
  • Refrain using landline telephones and taps, which may conduct lightning
  • Use cell phones for emergency calls only
  • Stay hydrated (plan for one gallon of clean water per person, per day)
  • Ration food supplies and consume as necessary
  • Use candles and torchlight to see if the power goes out
  • Be aware of flooding from storm surges (especially if near the coast)

Flooding should be treated with additional caution. Rising waters pose several risks to travellers. Not only can flooding cut-off access around the building, but currents can be deceptively strong even in shallow waters. There is also a risk of electrocution if power lines have fallen or been damaged.

Staying safe after a hurricane

The key challenges you’ll face immediately after a hurricane are:

Staying safe from further harm

Damage to infrastructure and the environment, as well as flying debris, flooding, fires, etc. all pose a risk to your wellbeing. Stay sheltered and do not go outside until advised it is safe by the relevant authorities. Likewise, if you were evacuated from your usual place of residence, do not return until advised.

Access to power

Hurricane strength winds can damage power lines and generators, especially in poorer countries. Ration any batteries you have, while making the most of solar-powered chargers and generators where possible. Who knows when power may be restored?

Access to food and water

Clean drinking water may be in short supply. So, unless it is bottled, water will need purifying before drinking. You can do this with chlorine tablets or by boiling. Likewise, ensure all non-perishable food is sealed and uncontaminated before eating.

Keep personal activity to a minimum to save energy and reduce the need for hydration. Use spare food and water sparingly, and keep valuable supplies safe and out of sight.

Avoiding contamination

Heavy rainfall or storm surges can flood drainage systems, spreading sewage and waste – putting employees at risk of infection. Immediately cover cuts and grazes to prevent infection as medical support may be unavailable for some time.

It may be hard to do so from a moral standpoint, but try to avoid the urge to rush out and start helping with rebuilding or aid efforts. This is the easiest way of getting cut or scratched by debris and leaving yourself open to infection.

Access in and out of the region

Structural damage and a lack of power can combine to put airports out of action in affected areas. If the airport is functioning, it will most likely be closed to commercial flights and only in use by chartered airplanes. Docks and ports may similarly be closed. Use radios, mobile phones and other forms of contact sparingly in order to stay aware of whether airports or docks are in use or not.

Access to comms

Phone lines will likely be out so travellers should listen to local radio for official warnings and advice, or check social media. Reaching out to authorities and embassies can help you make access with family, check-in with your employer, or contact your travel risk manager for an evacuation.

Equip travelers in affected areas with a satellite communications device where possible. This will allow them to contact the outside world even if traditional telecommunications are unavailable.

Staying safe during the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season

Although hurricanes possess unbelievable destructive capabilities, the one thing in our advantage is that they can be relatively well predicted and tracked. Whereas most natural disasters require an immediate reaction, e.g. an earthquake, hurricanes can be monitored while developing at sea and then tracked as they migrate north-west.

This means that the most important decisions travellers can make to ensure their safety are the decisions they make right now. Being proactive is the best way to mitigate any potential risks and our new white paper explains in-depth the decisions travellers and organisations should bear in mind ahead of the coming storms.

For more travel information and advice on how to stay safe during a hurricane, download our new white paper now. Inside we provide in-depth advice on the risks posed to businesses, how to mitigate the risks before, during and after the storm, the preparations you need to be making right now and what to expect from the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season.

Drum Cussac is a global travel risk management consultancy based in the UK. We’re responsible for 15 million lives daily and our new white paper explores how organisations can protect themselves from the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season – download your free copy today.

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