Riding out the storm: How to stay safe during a typhoon

A woman struggles against powerful gusts of wind generated by typhoon Megi across the island in Taipei, Taiwan. Pic: AP

BARELY hours after Typhoon Sarika (local name Karen) left the Philippines after making landfall on Sunday, locals were alerted to the expected entry of yet another tropical cyclone, dubbed Typhoon Haima.

According to a report by The Weather Channel, Haima could potentially pummel the Philippines even harder than Karen. “Typhoon Haima is poised to intensify quickly in the western Pacific Ocean and may reach super typhoon status before posing a threat to the northern Philippines, Taiwan and southern China in the week ahead,” it said.

Eastern China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have also been hit, and residents and tourists are advised to keep vigilant. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Get a survival pack ready

In your pack, you should have a first aid kit, Swiss knife, extra batteries, medicine supplies, sanitation items, flashlight and extra cash. Also stock up on a ready supply of drinking water and easy-to-prepare food that can last for at least three or four days.  Make sure your power banks and mobile phones are charged up.

Save up water from the tap

Water supply may be cut off during storms and you may have to rely on drinking water for hygiene purposes. To avoid this, ask for buckets or containers and fill them up with water from the tap (while it is still running) that you can use later for flushing the toilet or washing up. This way, you don’t need to waste drinking water.

Waterproof anything you can

Get hold of sturdy plastic bags and pack up your electronic devices as well as your passport and other important documents.

Firmly tape up your windows as typhoon winds can sometimes shatter glass. To prevent glass from shattering in every direction if the windows do crack, draw curtains across the windows after you have taped the glass.

If there are any electrical appliances near the window – for instance, the television or mini fridge – shift them to the center of the room in case the window shatters or water seeps into the room.

Follow evacuation orders

For low-lying areas or places near coasts and riverbanks, local authorities may ask residents or occupants of a building to move away immediately. Follow those orders accordingly, and don’t wait until the situation gets worse before you decide to relocate.

Pack your belongings and find the a safe place to wait out the storm. Check with local authorities about buildings that can withstand typhoons, and if possible, seek refuge in a place higher than 500 meters.

Avoid riverbanks

Don’t go wandering into the middle of the storm. Steer clear of areas prone to floods and landslides. Beaches and riverbanks are dangerous as this time as these areas are likely to be inundated by rising water or waves.

Stay informed about the weather

Typhoons are usually tracked using satellite so if there’s one on the way, you’re likely hear it from the country’s local authorities. Pay close attention and look out for warnings – they are generally issued between 24 to 48 hours prior to the disaster.

Communicate with loved ones

Once typhoon warnings are in order, quickly find a way to call or email your family and loved ones. As power may be turned off or cell towers can get damaged from the storm, when there’s a chance to inform your family about your whereabouts and your safety plan, do so the soonest you can.