Better to PREPARE than repair!

It is always important to be prepared in case a disaster occurs or in case you have an emergency. For the Embassy of the United States, disaster preparedness is essential for the safety and security of Dominicans and Americans alike, and it is one of Ambassador Bernstein’s priorities.

The Dominican Republic and other islands in the Caribbean region face hurricane and earthquake threats all through the year.  As we have entered peak hurricane season we believe that YOU must be prepared in case a disaster occurs.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecasts that the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season will produce up to 15 named storms and 8 hurricanes.  Of these, NOAA also expects up to four major hurricanes.  Just recently, NOAA forecasters said conditions are now more favorable for hurricane activity since El Nino has now ended.

“Seasonal forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center have increased the likelihood of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season to 45% (up from the 30% outlook issued in May). The likelihood of near-normal activity is now at 35% and the chance of below-normal activity has dropped to 20%” says the recent article posted on NOAA’s website.

So, how can WE help reduce the impact of disasters?  Here are some tips:

Build a “go bag”

Every family should have an emergency “go bag” ready and it should include:

  • A change of clothes and heavy boots
  • A supply of bottled water
  • Non-perishable food items
  • A can opener
  • A First Aid Kit
  • A flashlight and glow sticks
  • A small set of tools
  • Cash in local currency
  • A cell phone
  • A portable charged battery
  • A battery-powered radio
  • Extra batteries
  • The family’s medications
  • Stored in a waterproof folder, vital documents like:

-Birth Certificates
-Marriage Certificates
-Social Security Card
-Insurance Information/Cards
-Photocopy of Passports
-Deeds/Titles
-Power of Attorney
-Medical Directives/Wills
-Prescriptions
-Shot Records
-Medical Records

Keep in mind that you should tailor your emergency bag to your family’s specific needs, including supplies for your children and pets. We suggest that each member of your family have their own smaller personal bag with important things like medication that they need with them.

Shelter in place and emergency supply kit

The Red Cross says that a shelter in place is “a precaution aimed to keep you safe while remaining indoors. Shelter-in-place means selecting a small interior room, with no or few windows, and taking refuge there.”

You should have a shelter in place in one room in your household that has few windows, if possible, or is away from windows, doors or exterior walls.  Inside this shelter, you should:

  • Bring your family and pets inside.
  • Lock doors, close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers.
  • Turn off fans, air conditioning and forced air heating systems.
  • Take your emergency supply kit.
  • Seal all windows, doors and air vents with thick plastic sheeting and duct tape. Consider measuring and cutting the sheeting in advance to save time.
  • Duct tape plastic at corners first and then tape down all edges.

The emergency supply kit must have sufficient water and non-perishable food supplies for at least 72 hours.  If you have a family member with a disability and you’d like to know which supplies you will need, please click here.

Have a family disaster plan

Remember, it is important to practice your plan and make sure everyone in your family is aware of what to do during a disaster.  You should also be aware of the following:

  • The evacuation routes for your community or neighborhood.
  • The nearest safe haven or shelter
  • How your family is going to communicate with each other.
  • Your children’s school disaster plan.

Stay informed

  • Keep an eye on the alerts from the Centro de Operaciones de Emergencias (COE)
  • Stay up to date visiting these websites (NOAA, COE, NHC)
  • Always check your local weather reports
  • For the Embassy, American citizens living, working and/or visiting the DR are the first priority. If you are visiting the country, make sure to register at state.gov  to stay updated with important travel information and to help us contact you in case of an evacuation order, natural disaster, or other emergency.

If you would like to learn more on how to get prepared visit the website ready.gov. Remember, as Ambassador Bernstein likes to say, it is easier to PREPARE than repair!