A hurricane is a tropical weather system with maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or more. A hurricane is the strongest and most dangerous of all tropical systems, having an eye that is often 20 – 30 miles wide and that brings hazards such as torrential rains, destructive winds and storm surges. Dominica has a long history of hurricanes that have caused damage over the years.

Preparing for a Hurricane

It is important to be ready for a hurricane so you’re not caught unprepared. Some of the most important things you can do are:

  • Get ready before the hurricane season begins – as well as reviewing this Hurricane Preparedness checklist for homes or this Hurricane Preparedness checklist for businesses Here are a variety of things you can do to prepare your home and your family before hurricane season including:
    • Fasten things down – ensure all fasteners for doors and windows are in working order and your roof covering is properly fixed to the rafters. Roof sheeting must be properly fixed to supports, preferably with long screws. Spaces between the roof and the supports should be sealed off during hurricane periods as a high wind will lift a roof if it gets into the space between the roof and supporters. Wherever possible, windows should be reinforced with shutters and doors with bars.
    • Ensure your footing is solid – wooden houses need to be securely fixed to supports with their footings well into the ground for maximum protection. Protect your house against wood ants as houses infected by these termites often collapse in a hurricane.
    • Stock up on supplies – maintain your emergency kit supplies with non-perishable food items, water, battery operated radio, flashlight and medication.
    • Take a few minutes around your home – clear all nearby drains, gullies or ravines to allow for free flow of rain water and reduce flooding. Also, cut down any trees or branches that hang directly over a house or look like they might damage your home in a hurricane.
  • Make plans – make sure you have a well-prepared personal or family disaster and participate in the local community processes for planning, preparedness, hazard mapping, evacuation planning and search and rescue.
  • Be aware – listen to local radio stations and keep updated on information provided by official agencies including advisories on tropical storm and hurricane watches and warnings when the season begins.

During a Hurricane

If a hurricane is occurring, you need to know the hazards you face and how to minimize those dangers. Some of the most important things you can do are:

  • Listen closely and act – during a hurricane, local authorities will be issuing advisories and official instructions identifying danger zones and issuing evacuation orders. Listen and obey these instructions and evacuate early rather than waiting until it’s too late.
  • Make sure you are in a safe place – stay at home, if it’s safe and on high ground. If it’s not, move to a designated shelter and stay there until the storm is over. If evacuation orders are given, evacuate early to provide better management at shelters and remain indoors during the hurricane. Travel is extremely dangerous when strong winds and tides are whipping through your area
  • Be prepared – If you move on to an emergency shelter, make sure you take some food with you, masks and hand sanitizers or rubbing alcohol (70%)
  • Know the hazards – the key hazards during a hurricane are:
    • Strong winds that can damage buildings and wind-driven debris
    • torrential rainfall causing flooding and landslides
    • storm surges causing coastal flooding and damages
  • Beware of the eye of the hurricane – If the eye of the storm is centered directly overhead, there will be a lull in the wind lasting from a few minutes to half an hour or more. Stay in a safe place unless emergency repairs are absolutely necessary. But remember, at the other side of the eye, the winds rise very rapidly to hurricane force and come from opposite direction.

After Hearing a Hurricane Warning

If a hurricane is likely, you will hear a hurricane warning. After that you should:

  • Care for your livestock – see that all livestock have plenty of food and water and leave them untethered if firmly securing them will prove dangerous.
  • Anchor your boat securely – or evacuate it to a safe area. Once your boat is anchored, leave it, and do not return to it until the wind and waves have subsided.
  • Board up windows – or protect them with storm shutters or tape. Danger to small windows is mainly from wind-driven debris. Larger windows can be broken by wind pressure.
  • Secure outdoor objects – like garbage cans, garden tool, toys, signs, porch furniture and any other seemingly harmless items could become missiles of destruction in hurricane winds and be blown away or uprooted. Anchor them or store them inside before the storm strikes.
  • Check your supplies – such as battery-powered equipment including your radio and store drinking water in clean bathtubs, jugs, bottles and cooking utensils. The Water supply may be contaminated by flooding or damage by hurricane floods. Also, emergency cooking facilities, lights and flashlights will be essential if utilities are interrupted.
  • Keep your car fueled – service stations may be closed for several days after the storm hits, due to flooding or interrupted electrical power.
  • Make sure you are in a safe place – stay at home, if it’s safe and on high ground. If it’s not, move to a designated shelter and stay there until the storm is over. If evacuation orders are given, evacuate early to provide better management at shelters and remain indoors during the hurricane. Travel is extremely dangerous when strong winds and tides are whipping through your area
  • Take cover as soon as possible – move away from low lying areas that might be swept by high tides or storm waves
  • Be prepared – If you move on to an emergency shelter, make sure you take some food with you, masks and hand sanitizers or rubbing alcohol (70%)
  • Remain indoors and keep calm – travel is extremely dangerous when strong winds and tides are whipping through your area, so stay inside and keep calm until the storm has ended

After a Hurricane has passed

  • Pay close attention – listen to local radio stations and obey advisories and official instructions given by local authorities. Do not crowd around relief centres needlessly
  • Stay safe – Do not enter into declared danger zones identified by local authorities and stay clear from collateral activity and await further instructions. Remember that hurricanes moving inland can cause severe flooding. Stay away from river banks and streams.
  • Get help if needed – where possible seek necessary medical care at health centres or hospital and boil all drinking water until the Health Authorities have declared the water supply safe.
  • Help out – assist your neighbours and search and rescue personnel. Share information and eyewitness accounts of your area where possible of things like:
    • loose or dangling wires
    • broken sewer or water mains
  • Do not use your car unless you have an important job to do – do not congregate in roads and thoroughfares and do not go sightseeing. If you must travel, drive carefully along debris-filled streets as roads may be undermined and collapse under the weight of a car. Landslides are also a hazard.

Sources/more information


Hurricane Preparedness

  • Know your Emergency Shelters– by reviewing this  list of emergency shelters
  • Have disaster supplies on hand– these include flashlights and extra batteries; portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries; first aid kit; non-perishable (canned food) and water; non-electric can opener; essential medicines; cash and credit cards; sturdy shoes.
  • Protect your windows – permanent shutters are the best protection. A lower-cost approach is to put up plywood panels. Use 1/2 inch plywood – marine plywood is best – cut to fit each window. Remember to mark which board fits which window. Pre-drill holes every 18 inches for screws. Do this long before the storm.
  • Trim back branches from trees- trim branches away from your home and cut all dead or weak branches on any trees on your property.
  • Check into your Home and Auto Insurance– confirm that policies are valid and coverage is appropriate.
  • Make arrangements for pets and livestock– pets may not be allowed into emergency shelters for health and space reasons.
  • Develop an emergency communication plan– make sure all family members know what to do. Teach family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water. Teach children how and when to call police or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information. In case family members are separated from one another during a disaster (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together.
  • Sources/More Information:



Develop a Written Plan

Developing a written preparedness plan and training employees to implement it is critical.  When you develop your written plan, make sure to address the following major areas:

  • Make plans for the protection of plant and equipment.
  • Develop a staffing policy that identifies essential employees and which of them, if any, must remain at the facility during the hurricane. The policy should identify when employees will be released from work as well as when they are expected to return. Businesses may predetermine that employees will return to work when employees are ordered to return, in case telephone service is out.
  • Develop procedures and policies for all phases of hurricane operations:
    • - Pre-Season Preparedness
    • - Hurricane Watch
    • - Hurricane Warning
    • - After the Hurricane
  • Identify and protect vital records such as accounts receivable, customer records, tax records, and other personnel and administrative documents.
  • Review insurance policies to ensure that there is adequate coverage. Questions to ask include:
    • - Is the facility in a high hazard, evacuation area?
    • - Does the insurance package include wind/storm coverage?
    • - Is the facility located in a flood prone area and is the flood insurance adequate?
    • - Does insurance cover damage to contents, including vital records and office equipment?
    • - Does the package include liability coverage for injury to employees as well as potential lawsuits from customers?

Before a Hurricane

  • Compile an Emergency Contact List with 24-hour telephone contact numbers of essential employees.
  • Identify vital records and make back-up copies/and or transfer them to microfilm
  • Identify a safe storage level area within the facility where records can be relocated, if necessary. This area should be above ground level and away from windows and exterior walls, which may leak. In a one-story facility, file cabinets and boxes may be placed on pallets up off the floor. Consider moving vital records off-site, particularly if the business is in a storm-surge vulnerable area.
  • Determine responsibility for maintaining the facility. Ensure that the following items are addressed:
    • - Patch roofs and windows.

- Check security and flood lighting.

- Identify lightweight, loose items in outside storage areas that may be blown around in the wind.

- Identify emergency power requirements and determine if generator is available. If facility must be operational during a hurricane and a generator is not available, rent or purchase a generator. Test generator monthly during the hurricane season.

- Determine if computer support will be available for primary/ critical computer users who need to remain operational during a hurricane.

- Verify that communications equipment is operational.

  • Determine the type and amount of hurricane emergency supplies necessary. All hurricane emergency supplies should be clearly marked and stored in a secure area that is accessible in an emergency. Recommended supplies include:
    • - A battery-operated radio or TV (test reception in building).
  • One flashlight per person working during the hurricane.

- Extra batteries for both radio and flashlights.

- First-Aid kit.

- Emergency tool kit, if necessary.

- Food and water supplies for staff assigned to the facility during the hurricane. Be sure to include needed utensils.

  • Provide employees with hurricane preparedness information.

During a Hurricane Watch

  • Secure all doors, windows, and other openings against wind and water.
  • Tie down or bring indoors any objects which may be blown about by hurricane winds. Install hurricane shutters, cover windows with boards, or close drapes. If a room must be occupied during the hurricane and window protection is not available, windows may be crisscrossed with tape to slightly reduce flying glass.
  • Verify that vital records are in a safe storage area. Files, records, and storage cabinets may be wrapped in plastic for moisture protection. If necessary, temporarily relocate records to a safe storage facility off-site.
  • Confirm availability of necessary computer support.
  • Ensure that all vehicles are serviced and fueled. Determine where they can be stored to safely weather the storm.
  • Inventory hurricane emergency supplies and restock if necessary.
  • Dismiss essential employees temporarily so they can secure their personal property before returning to duty.

During a Hurricane Warning

  • Move desks, files, equipment and furniture away from un-shuttered windows. Papers, drawings, etc. should be placed inside files or desks. Wrap office equipment, such as copy machine and computers, in plastic to protect against water damage.
  • Dismiss all non-essential personnel.
  • Turn off all air conditioners, disconnect electrical equipment, turn off lights.

After a Hurricane

  • Assess basic damages at work site including roof, water, damage and broken windows.
  • Initiate clean-up of work-site.
  • Do not turn on computer equipment if there are indications of low voltage power fluctuations, low air conditioning output, water under raised floor, broken windows or damaged equipment.
  • Employees return to work according to staffing schedule.

Sources/More Information:


Prepare a Hurricane Kit for your household with 3 to 14 days’ supply of the following items. These items can be taken to hurricane shelters and reflect what you are likely to find at shelters.

  • Basic Supplies
  • Cooking Supplies
  • Personal Supplies
  • Important Documents
  • Baby Supplies
  • Pet Supplies
  • Other Necessities

Basic Supplies

  • Drinking water (1 gallon per person per day)
  • Manual can opener
  • Nonperishable foods
  • Canned meat, fish, fruit, or vegetables
  • Bread in moisture proof packaging
  • Cookies, candy or dried fruit
  • Canned soups & nonperishable milk
  • Powdered or single serve drinks
  • Cereal
  • Packaged ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Instant tea or coffee
  • Flashlight (1 per person)
  • Portable battery powered lanterns
  • Large trash bags (lots of them)
  • Battery operated or solar powered radio
  • Extra batteries for all battery operated items
  • First aid kit including aspirin, antibiotic cream
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Waterproof matches
  • Money
  • Unscented bleach or water purification tablets (add 8 drops of bleach per gal.)

Cooking Supplies

  • Portable camp stove or grill with utensils
  • Stove fuel, charcoal or propane
  • Disposable eating utensils, plates cups
  • Napkins and paper towels
  • Aluminum foil

Personal Supplies

  • Prescription medicines (1 month supply and copy of prescriptions)
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Masks
  • Gloves
  • Hand sanitizers or rubbing alcohol (70%)
  • Toilet paper
  • Entertainment: books, games, toys and magazines
  • Bedding: pillows, sleeping bag
  • Change of clothing
  • Rain ponchos and work gloves
  • Extra eye glasses or contacts

Important Documents

  • Insurance documents
  • Birth, marriage and baptismal certificates
  • Immunization document
  • Travel documents (passports etc)
  • A list of all your important contacts (family, doctors, insurance agents)
  • Banking information
  • Leases/mortgage
  • Proof of occupancy (such as utility bill)
  • Photo inventory of your personal belongings
  • Waterproof container to keep the documents in


Baby Supplies

  • Disposable diapers
  • Formula, food and medication
  • Bottles and feeding utensils

Pet Supplies

  • Dry and/or canned food
  • ID tags and collars
  • Proof of recent immunizations
  • Water (1/2 gallon per day)
  • Litter box and supplies
  • Carrying container

Other Necessities

  • Tool Box
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Masking tape or duct tape
  • Outdoor extension cords
  • Spray paint
  • Local phone book
  • Roofing tarps or plastic sheeting