As Tropical Storm Darby approaches Hawaii and Maui counties, the weather service and emergency management officials are reminding people to have emergency plans and supplies on hand for hurricane season.
Hurricane season in Hawaii lasts until Nov. 30, and the approaching storm is a reminder that residents should stock emergency supplies to last for seven days if roads, electricity and water is cut off.
“It’s always a good idea to be prepared as soon as you can,” said Leigh Anne Eaton, a meteorologist with the Honolulu office of the National Weather Service.
» Tropical storm warnings posted
» Tropical storms in East Pacific could become hurricanes this weekend
Hawaii County interim Civil Defense Director Ed Teixiera said residents should prepare now for a possible tropical storm with winds of 65 mph.
“Look around your property and business for things that may be affected by winds and flooding,” Teixiera said. “Low-lying communities near beaches should prepare for high surf. In flood-prone areas, it’s a good time to buy sand bags and fill them… Trees that need trimming should be trimmed while we still have time.”
Residents should also make sure their hurricane kits are up to date and monitor the track of the storm, which could still change over the next two days, Teixiera said.
Even though Darby is not a hurricane, a strong tropical storm can blow off rooftops, knock down trees, block roads and cut off electricity and water.
Tropical Storm Iselle — the strongest tropical cyclone to hit Hawaii island in recorded history — was just below hurricane strength when it made landfall on Aug. 7, 2014, causing widespread power outages, downed trees and property damage.
Iselle delayed primary election day voting for Puna residents, who were cut off from their polling places and delayed the results of a hotly contested U.S. Senate race.
Here are recommendations on how to prep for a storm and emergency contacts.
7-Day Emergency Supply Kit
Emergency officials advise residents to prepare a disaster supply kit with enough of the following items to last for seven days:
>> Water: One gallon per person per day for drinking and sanitation
>> Food: Non-perishables that do not require cooking.
>> Eating utensils: Plates, mess kits, forks and chop sticks. Don’t forget a non-electric can opener for canned foods
>> Radio: Battery-powered or hand crank radio with NOAA Weather alert
>> Light: Flashlight, portable fluorescent, or LED light
>> Spare batteries: Check annually
>> First Aid: First aid kit
>> Whistle: Important for signaling for help as a whistle carries much farther than the human voice and uses less energy than yelling
>> Dust mask: Helps to filter contaminated air
>> Sanitation: Moist towelettes, toilet paper, 5-gallon bucket, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
>> Tools: Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, duct tape
>> Maps: Local area maps
>> Prescription: Special medications and glasses
>> Baby: Infant formula and diapers
>> Pets: Pet food and extra water for your pet
State Civil Defense recommendations
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (formerly state Civil Defense) recommends residents and visitors take the following actions:
>> Talk with family members about what you plan to do if a hurricane or tropical storm threatens. Make an action plan that includes details such as whether or not your family plans to evacuate.
>> Download the Ready Hawaii app from the iTunes or Google Play! store. This app can aid in your emergency planning and will list shelters if they are opened for evacuation.
>> Walk your property and check for potential flood threats. If time and conditions permit, clear your gutters and other drainage systems.
>> Identify small outdoor items that could be picked up by high winds. Make a plan to bring these items indoors if a hurricane/tropical storm watch or warning is issued.
>> Prepare your pets by having a carrier on hand as well as seven days of food and water.
>> Set aside an emergency supply of any needed medication and keep a copy of your prescriptions in case you run out of medication after a disaster.
>> Visitors should download and read the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s Travel Safety Brochure at http://www.travelsmarthawaii.com.
>> Download a preparedness brochure at http://www.scd.hawaii.gov/documents/SCD_PrepareBrochure.pdf for detailed recommendations and other resources.
>> Follow the Department of Education online at http://www.hawaiipublicschools.org for the latest information on possible school closures.
>> Check with local officials and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources if you plan to hike or camp next week. Parks and other trails may be closed depending on the weather forecast. Visit the DLNR website at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/blog/category/news/ for the latest closure information.
>> American Red Cross, Hawaii State chapter
>> American Veterinary Medical Association Disaster Preparedness
>> Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (formerly state Civil Defense)
>> Hawaii County Civil Defense
>> Kauai County Civil Defense
>> Maui County Civil Defense
>> City and County of Honolulu Department of Emergency Management
>> Emergency preparedness
>> Emergency Preparedness Resources for Maui County Residents
>> Federal Emergency Management Agency
>> National Flood Insurance Program
>> National Weather Service, Honolulu Forecast Office
>> Pacific Disaster Center
>> Ready America
From HECO’s “Handbook for Emergency Preparedness.”
Emergency and preparedness information
The Department of Emergency Management will issue Emergency Public Information through the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and over TV and radio. Here are some additional emergency information sources.
>> NOAA weather radio — NOAA Weather Alert Radios can notify you 24 hours a day to hazards in our area including severe weather, hurricanes and tropical storms, and tsunami events. In addition, many of these units can activate other warning devices such as a strobe light to provide a visual warning. These radios are available from many Oahu electronics and department stores.
>> NIXLE messaging — The Department of Emergency Management (DEM) highly recommends signing up to receive emergency email and text messages sent directly to your cell phone from Nixle. Go to www.nixle.com/dem to set up your account. Standard text messaging charges may apply.
>> Social media — DEM will also issue information updates via Twitter www.twitter.com/Oahu_DEM and Facebook www.facebook.com/OahuDEM. NOTE: DEM Twitter and Facbook pages should not be used to request emergency assistance.
>> ReadyHawaii App — Be ready for hurricanes, tsunamis, and other natural or man-made disasters with the official Ready Hawaii app. With Ready Hawaii you can also access the tsunami and new Extreme Tsunami Evacuation Zone maps. Ready Hawaii can be downloaded for free on iTunes or Google Play.
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Dos and Don’ts
When the sirens sound and the warnings blast that a hurricane is imminent, the best-case scenario would be for you to have been prepared — disaster kit and all. But what do you do when you’re not ready and the storm is upon you? Here are some dos and don’ts.
>> DO fill your tub(s) with water. If the water is shut off, you don’t have to give up using your toilet. Fill the back tank of your toilet and flush as needed.
>> DO charge your phone. You should have some time between the warning and a power outage.
>> DO sign up for emergency alerts. Your cell phone may be your only avenue for updates regarding the storm. Sign up at nixle.com.
>> DO protect electronics. Guard TVs and computers from water damage by covering them with plastic bags. Turn off and unplug any unnecessary electrical equipment to keep them safe from power surges.
>> DO pack your fridge and freezer. A tightly packed space stays better insulated than an empty one. Fill in the gaps with containers of water and turn the thermostat to the coldest setting.
>> DON’T drive unless it is an absolute emergency. With hurricanes come flying debris and flooded roads. This does not mean you should stay if you are in an evacuation zone. If local authorities direct you to evacuate, follow instructions and proceed with caution.
>> DON’T open a window. It’s a common belief that a cracked window will relieve the pressure in a home, but it’s not true. In fact, windows can actually cause more damage when opened. An open window allows wind to enter the home. The wind must exit somewhere, which often results in a roof or ceiling being blown off.
>> DON’T make phone calls unless it is an absolute emergency. If you need to contact someone, choose a text over a phone call when possible. Texting uses less power than a phone call and may go through more reliably when lines are busy.
>> DON’T be fooled when the eye of the storm passes. The center of the storm comes with a calm that may feel like the storm is over. This can last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. Wait it out.
>> DON’T watch the storm. Projectile items blowing around outside can penetrate windows and cause severe or even fatal injuries. Draw the curtains, close the blinds, and keep your phone and radio close.
Fire, Police or Ambulance Emergencies 911
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (formerly state Civil Defense) (808) 733-4300
Honolulu Department of Emergency Management (808) 723-8960
Hawaii County (808) 935-0031; after Hours: (808) 935-3311
Maui County (808) 270-7285; after Hours: (808) 244-6400; advisory hotline: (808) 986-1200
Kauai County (808) 241-1800; after Hours: (808) 241-1711
American Red Cross 734-2101
Board of Water Supply (trouble only) 438-7105
Gas Company (trouble only) 526-0066
Hawaiian Electric (trouble only) Oahu (855)304-1212 (toll free); Maui (808)871-7777; Lanai or Molokai (877)871-8461 (toll free); Hawaii island (808)969-6666
Hawaiian Humane Society 946-2187
Hawaii Department of Health 586-4249; after hours 247-2191
Here’s how to determine if you should shelter-in-place (at home) or evacuate (to a hurricane evacuation shelter).
>> If you live near the coastline, near rivers and streambeds, or on the mountain ridgeline, you should evacuate.
>> If your house was built before 1993 and is constructed of wood, you should evacuate.
>> If you live in a house constructed after 1993 and have an interior room on a lower floor, with no windows (closet, bathroom) you should shelter-in-place.
If sheltering in-place, stay on the lowest floor possible and stay in a room with no windows. Also, bring food, pets, family, and preparedness supplies into the room. In addition, take your radio with you so you know when conditions have improved enough for you to leave shelter.
Emergency electrical safety tips
Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawai‘i Electric Light urge customers to consider the following safety measures before, during and after a disaster or power outage.
>>Before a storm hits or if there is a power outage, unplug all unnecessary electric equipment and appliances until the storm has passed or until power is restored.
>> Stay away from downed power lines. Assume they are energized and dangerous. If you see someone injured after touching a downed power line, call 9-1-1 for help.
>> Should you need to evacuate, take emergency supplies and remember to shut off electricity at the main breaker or switch.
>> Make plans in advance to go to a safe location where electricity will be available if someone in your home depends on an electrically powered life support system and you don’t have a backup generator. Some shelters are designed for people with health needs—just remember to take your own medical equipment and medications.
>> When using a portable generator, carefully read and follow instructions in the manufacturer’s manual. Do not plug the generator into your household electrical outlets.
>> If you have a rooftop photovoltaic system, consult with your licensed solar contractor regarding normal and emergency operation procedures for your solar system. As a safety precaution, most photovoltaic systems are designed to safely shut down during outages. PV systems typically have monitoring systems which allow owners to check on the status of their system.
>> If you become trapped in an elevator during a power outage, relax and stay calm until help arrives. Use elevator emergency communication systems to report where you are and who is with you. Do not try to force open elevator doors. Never try to exit a stalled elevator car. Always wait for trained and qualified emergency personnel.
The Hawaiian Electric Companies’ free “Information Handbook for Emergency Preparedness” includes these tips and more. It can be downloaded at http://hawaiianelectric.com/prepare.
The handbook includes key numbers to have on hand, checklists for emergency supplies (such as a home survival kit and first aid kit), electrical safety information, power outage preparedness and recovery information, and household and food safety tips. It also provides references and links to related resources, such as the American Red Cross, FEMA and civil defense agencies.