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.
Hurricane Season in the Atlantic begins June 1 and runs through November 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center expects the 2020 season to be above average. NOAA predicts that the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season will produce:
- 13-19 named storms
- 6-10 expected hurricanes
- 3-6 expected major hurricanes
In anticipation of this hurricane season, especially during the current pandemic crisis, the Ambassador prepared a message about making sure you are prepared this hurricane season.
So, how can we be get ready for the season?
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:
-Social Security Card
-Photocopy of Passports
-Power of Attorney
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.
Given the current pandemic, we also recommend adding the following to your emergency bag, in order to protect your health:
- Face masks
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.
Make sure that your family’s emergency plan considers CDC guidelines on social distancing and other health safety measures. Make sure to have a plan for your office, children’s schools and other places you visit often.
This year, your emergency plan might look different due to COVID-19. Consider that some things might have changed due to the pandemic (available shelters, etc.), please check the COE website frequently for the most updated information. Please keep practicing preventative health measures whenever possible; washing your hands, covering your face and following social distancing norms.
Please check CDC guidelines and read this article with more tips on how to prepare for a hurricane in the middle of a pandemic: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/covid-19/prepare-for-hurricane.html
- 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!