5 Tips for Surviving a Major Storm or Hurricane When Traveling

By Jesse Sokolow on 29 August 2019
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It isn’t only just a headline. Monster storms, such as hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons, are affecting more people in more places in a shorter period of time than has been the case in the past. They wreak havoc in their path with punishing winds and torrential rains and finish with dangerous storm surges.

Travelers are particularly vulnerable.

The 2019 hurricane season, which started on June 1, has already resulted in countless delays, the cancellation of thousands of flights, and there may be more to come.

View of downtown Havana from the Malecón

View of downtown Havana from the Malecón

One storm, Barry in July, caused $600 million in damage in the eastern United States.

The names of past storms haunt our memories: Harvey, Irma, Norma, Maria, and in recent memory Andrew, Katrina, and Sandy.

Despite the amount of devastation caused by each storm, advances in science and technology have enabled weather forecasting to improve to the point where officials can monitor the speed and direction of a storm and reliably pinpoint when it will reach a given area. This makes it easier to change emergency management plans and move populace out of harm’s way. However, there’s no doubt some travelers will be left behind to hunker down for the duration.

But even the best planning may not help everyone. Despite additional flights, there’s virtually no way that airlines can fit a week’s worth of passengers into a single day.

If you are stranded with no means to return home, here are five tips on what to do to stay safe for the duration and survive the fury of a storm.

1.) Before starting your trip, sign up with an emergency evacuation service

While medical evacuation services such as MedjetAssist have been around for years, there are also non-medical options available, including companies such as Global Rescue or WorldAware, a risk management company. These companies specialize in unorthodox ways of getting clients out of harm’s way and have done so with great success.

2.) Prepare your technology ahead of departure
In extreme weather, towers used for mobile phone communications may topple and generators used to power them in the event of power failures typically last 24 to 48 hours. Satellite phones and two-way satellite texting devices will, however, work provided they have power. These devices can talk to the Iridium Satellite Network, which will work almost anywhere except in places such as North Korea or Sudan. Some, such as models from DeLorme, have an SOS button that will connect you to a rescue dispatcher, although rescue is not guaranteed.

3.) Keep your devices plugged in and charging until the power goes out

Power failures in storms are inevitable and the promise of a months-long effort to restore electricity to most of Puerto Rico illustrates why one simply cannot have too many backup batteries along on a trip.

We have had good experiences with batteries from Mophie, due to their size and ability to charge multiple devices at once, while having enough battery reserve to recharge an iPhone two to three times.

4.) Stock up on supplies
Once it becomes apparent that evacuation is not an option, stock up on emergency supplies including food, medications, water, protective clothing, lanterns and flashlights, batteries, and fuel for the car. Put important papers and documents such as passports and cash in a safe place and have a map showing possible evacuation routes to be used once the storm abates.

5.) Find a secure location
If you are forced to wait out a storm, remain indoors in the most secure building available and stay away from windows. Resist the temptation to go outside during the storm to take photographs to post on your Instagram account as well.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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