Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Surviving Disaster: Hurricane

The Surviving Disaster show has caught my attention. This is one show that I make a point of watching each week, mostly because it is long on details and short on personal drama which I more or less detest in "reality" type shows. Here's what I learned about surviving a hurricane from tonight's show:
  • Even if you don't live in a hurricane-prone area it is possible that you will vacation in such a spot so it's good to know how to survive a hurricane.
  • If your area is under mandatory evacuation, get out. Don't try to stay and tough it out.
  • Within many miles of the coast, you will be in storm surge area. The storm surge (a giant wall of water) always hits before the hurricane makes land fall.
  • Take your BOB, rope, change of shoes, rain gear, food, water, flashlights, etc.
  • Hopefully you will be evacuating in a four wheel drive vehicle.
  • Most people die in hurricanes from drowning, often during the storm surge.
  • Evacuation means get as far away from the coast as possible and to higher ground.
  • Remember not to drive too fast when evacuating, the water on the roads can cause hydroplaning...let off the gas but don't stomp on the brakes or you will spin out.
  • Beware of other crazy drivers who are also trying to evacuate. Panicked people can cause problems during the evacuations.
  • Police and other first responders may not be on duty as they may be taking care of their families therefore there could be disorder and chaos.
  • Listen to the radio to get updates on the direction the storm is traveling.
  • If the roads are too jammed to use to evacuate, go off road.
  • To go off road, gear down and speed up a bit. Remember, stopping takes a lot longer and you can't make tight turns.
  • If the car ends up out of commission, you will need to evacuate on foot.
  • Run to higher ground and find shelter before the storm surge hits.
  • If you must cross a river to get to higher ground, use a zip line swift water crossing technique. Send the best swimmer across with the line to the other side and secure the line to a stump, etc. The line will be horizontal but heading downstream so the current can help carry you across. Use a truckers hitch knot to tighten up the line, you want it as tight as possible so it doesn't dunk you in the middle of the river. Put your belt over the line and double wrap it around your hands to zip down the line, face down stream during the crossing and keep your feet up.
  • If someone falls in the river don't go in after them. You can use a branch or rope to try to get the person to shore.
  • Once the hurricane makes landfall, seek shelter to avoid water and lethal debris.
  • Move from cover to cover (ie: tree to tree) when looking for shelter. Hold your bag over your head to protect it from flying things. Keep low when you are running. Crawl on elbows and knees if you are in high winds and have no cover.
  • If you are cut by flying debris and it hits an artery, keep direct pressure on and right above the wound. To stop the bleeding, use towels, t shirts, or gauze tightly over the wound. Knot a strip of fabric tightly around the cloth covering the wound. You can also put direct pressure on the artery that is feeding the wound. As a last resort, use a tourniquet above the wound. Don't take off the tourniquet until a doctor can take care of it (blood clots formed by the would could be allowed back into the artery causing stroke or heart attack).
  • If you need to break into a shelter such as a locked home, use a hatchet like device to break the lock and a breaker bar to pry it open. You may also need to kick it open using a donkey kick with the back of your heel. Once inside, use the hatchet head under the door to keep the door closed.
  • Stay away from windows that aren't boarded up.
  • When the eye gets over you it will become calm. Use this time to fortify your position. Shut off the electricity and the gas. Put plywood or shutters over the exterior windows.
  • The best place to be during a hurricane is a small room in the center of the house, at the lowest level of the house, that doesn't have windows. Barricade the door.
  • Once the eye has passed, you will be hit with the eyewall--heavy wind, rains, and flooding.
  • If the room you are in begins flooding, get to the highest level of the house, usually the attic (do this only as a last resort).
  • In hurricanes, most people die from drowning, either from the storm surge during the hurricane or flooding afterwards.
  • Use what you can (an ax is best but other items will work) to break through the roof where there is a weak spot (ie: where the plywood comes together at a seam, where there is water coming in, or where you see daylight). Watch out for nails when you come through the roof so you won't get injured.
  • Just as many people die after a hurricane as during a hurricane.
  • Watch out for displaced animals (dogs, alligators, snakes, etc).
  • Your best bet is to stay on the roof, and out of flood waters.
  • If you do jump in the water and an alligator gets you, grab the alligator's arm and twist as hard as you can so it will release its bite and you can swim away from it.
  • To treat an alligator bite, dress the wound lightly, you don't want to pack the bacteria from the alligator's mouth in the wound.
  • You need 1 gallon of buoyancy to float 8 pounds of weight. Pick up things that are floating to make a raft (doors, etc). Empty storage bins make good floats. Suitcases will work too. Use electrical cord stripped from the attic to tie things together to make the raft.
  • The wider the raft is, the less likely it is to tip over.
  • Get everyone on the raft and paddle through the water following any routes that you know (ie: follow the streets instead of going over trees).
  • Your best bet is to get to a casualty collection point at a hospital, school, or other Red Cross shelter.

Overall, again a good show. Full of useful tips and other things I wouldn't have thought of (twist an alligators arm? I didn't even think of them as having arms!).


  1. Great show, but don't forget the part about beware the other refugees. They can pull you into the water and drown you, take your BOB, etc. I would worry more about that than the Alligator with arms (and big claws!)

  2. My wife and I enjoy the show as well - it surely is better than many of the other 'survival' shows. Next week - surviving a home invasion.