Though the risk of Hurricane Leslie hitting the island of Newfoundland, or specifically the Exploits region is uncertain, the central chapter of the Canadian Red Cross is not wasting any time getting prepared in the event of a serious weather event.
The last hurricane that hit the province was Igor in 2010, high winds wreaked havoc on infrastructure, and heavy rainfall washed out roads and flooded homes causing millions of dollars in damage.
“It is hurricane season, and history tells us that our province has been hard-hit in the past during this time frame,” said Red Cross District Community Supervisor Linda Kelland.
Kelland, who works out of the Grand Falls-Windsor Red Cross office, is responsible for co-ordinating efforts from Glovertown to Springdale and Harbour Breton to Fogo.
After becoming aware of the possibility of Hurricane Leslie hitting Newfoundland, Kelland said a notice was sent to all volunteers suggesting they make own homes hurricane ready, and on Thursday, the organization was gathering information on which volunteers would be available in the event the hurricane makes landfall in the region early this week.
“We’re working closely with our partners through other disaster management organizations and with the Department of Environment tracking Hurricane Leslie,” she said. “We’re ensuring our resources, both human and physical, are ready so that if we’re called on (this week) to deploy to a community or neighborhood that’s been impacted, we can respond quickly.”
Supplies, which include survival kits, blankets, cots, and flood clean-up kits, have been gathered and available if the need arises.
“All we have to do is back in our truck, load them up, and our volunteers are off,” she said.
Kelland said even though Hurricane Leslie may never bother the region, or the island of Newfoundland, it’s always important to keep an eye on hurricane warnings and ensure your family has a plan in place.
One of the most important things to do in anticipation of a weather event that could bring high-winds is to secure your property to minimize damage.
“Anything that could become a danger to you, your property, or others, should be secured in preparation,” she said. “Things like patio furniture, flower pots, rakes, shovels, or outdoor children’s toys should be brought inside or tied down.”
She added these items could become very dangerous if they become airborne in high winds.
Kelland also suggested each home have a survival kit on hand, which should include things like blankets, non-perishable food, water, a fire extinguisher, and flashlights, in the event of an emergency (see sidebar for full list of recommended items).
“Things like medications, eyeglasses, and personal papers like drivers licenses and insurance info should be ready and easily accessible in the event of an emergency,” she said.
Kelland said one thing people often forget when it comes to storms is the possibility of a widespread power outage that might take down debit machines – keeping an amount of cash on hand is a good idea if your area is expecting extreme weather.
One major problem that arose in many homes during Igor was basement flooding; Kelland said it’s a good idea to always keep important items stored up off the ground or in protective plastic containers.
“One really important thing to remember is if you open your basement door and you have water down there, you have to consider electricity and how it conducts through water,” she said. “Never step into standing water in your basement if there’s a possibility of some sort of electric charge.”
Kelland said even when there’s no immediate threat of an emergency, families should always have an emergency plan in place.
“Families need to have a designated meeting place if they have to leave their home, place of work, or school,” she said. “Emergency phone numbers should have an alternate because sometimes in bad weather phone lines can be impacted.”
Kelland said citizens can rest assured that the Red Cross will be ready to respond if Hurricane Leslie affects the region, but even if it misses Newfoundland and Labrador completely, being proactive about safety is a good idea all year round.
“The key to safety is personal preparedness,” she said.
Canadian Red Cross disaster supplies kit list
The Canadian Red Cross suggests that every home keep a disaster supplies kit ready in the event of an emergency, here’s what it should include:
- Two litres of drinking water per person, per day
- Non-perishable canned and dried foods
- Can opener and disposable plates and utensils
- Change of clothing and footwear per person
- Pillows, blankets, or sleeping bags
- Personal hygiene items
- Copies of essential family documents
- First aid supplies
- Portable radio
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Useful tools: shovel, knife, pliers, and screwdriver
- Shut-off wrench to turn off gas and water
- Candle and holder
- Lighter or waterproof matches
- Type ABC fire extinguisher
- Prescription glasses or contact lenses
- Prescription medications
- Paper and pencil
- Car and house keys
- Plastic sheeting
- Safety goggles, work gloves, and disposable dust masks
- Garbage bags for waste and rain protection
- Signal Flares
- Duct and masking tape
- Compass and a map of your area