How to Prepare for a Cyclone in the Tropics

I’m certainly no expert when it comes to cyclone preparation, but boy I’ve learnt a lot in the past few weeks. Previously we lived in a location that has it’s share of seasonal weather, though rarely experiencing cyclones.  Very occasionally they came through, we were more used to flooding.  Since moving to Fiji, arriving just prior to summer, we learnt the ins and outs of cyclone season pretty quickly.

Here’s what I’ve learnt about being prepared for a cyclone.

Food

Stock up, think ‘Dooms Day Prepa’, well maybe not quite that bad. This is a photo of my second storage area. DIY shelving but it does the trick.  I tend to use the ‘if you see it buy it’ shopping method in Fiji. Often it can be months before you see an item again (especially for speciality items) and this theory definitely applies to cyclone preparation. I made sure we had a months worth of items roughly speaking.

Buy as many fruit and vegetables as you can and that won’t go off until the weather turns bad and flooding begins. Depending on your generator situation, pre-making some meals can be a good idea.  It’s heaps easier re-heating something on the stove than it is making it from scratch when you have only essential power.

Once potential flood waters recede be careful buying locally grown vegetables. Locally grown vegetables are usually fantastic and I buy from the markets each week, however flood waters are usually not sanitary waters. Dirty water carries disease so no matter how clean the vegetables at the markets appear, I’ve been recommended it’s better to purchase frozen or imported vegetables for approximately a month after any flooding has occurred.

Fridges 

If you have a generator  then it’s time to stock up and fill your fridge.  Fresh vegetables are going to be limited after a cyclone and flooding so time to buy as much fresh food as you can now. If you don’t have a generator, you ought to consider any eskies or coolers you have available. You’re definitely going to need to know where to buy ice.

Water 

You can never have enough water, clean drinking water is vital and other water will also be needed for general living.

If you have a pool, the water from your pool can be great for flushing toilets. If your house has a bath, fill it – this water will also come in handy.

I’ve also need told to ensure soap is on my list – a large number of water borne diseases can be elliminated with the simple practice of washing your hands.

If you have tank water, do your best to ensure it’s full.  Finding you have a leak or there’s been a fault won’t be fun once the cyclone has started.

Power

If you’re fortunate enough to have the means to purchase a generator, it can truly make the difference between surviving and living a fairly normal life when the power goes out.

We did a pile of research and learnt pretty quickly 5kva will run most of essentials and a few nice to haves while the power is out.

It’s super important if you’re new to the world of generators, you engage the services of a qualified electrician to install your generator.  There are options

Batteries

Stock up on batteries, re-chargeable is generally a good idea but when you might not have power for a number of days or weeks. Good ole’ garden variety batteries are a good idea.

House

Secure your belongings, usually this means bringing all your outdoor furniture inside.  Ensure your garden foliage is cut back.

Boats

Be guided by your marina and insurance company when it comes to boat requirements.

Is your boat insured if you leave it in the water during a designated cyclone?

Does your marina require you to remove your boat during a cyclone?

Do you have a cradle to tie your boat down if it’s taken out of the water? Do you have enough straps to secure it to the cradle correctly?

You will need to consider removing your canopy and securing any instruments from the weather.

Fun Stuff

Make sure all electronic devices are charged….a kindle or e-reader will keep you occupied for hours.

Board games come into their own when there’s no power, it’s old school all the way. Having experienced it now, it’s actually nice to get back to basics for a while.

Information

Ensure your back up power that allows for mobile phone to be charged to get news. The mobile phone carriers do an awesome job keeping communications up as long as possible, the Digicel in Vanuatu did an amazing job in restoring services after Cyclone Pam.

There are a number of great cyclone resources available, technology allows people to receive up-to-date information quickly but when all else fails a battery operated radio will also come in handy.

There’s always room for improvement, what other tips can I add to this list?