On the Scene with St. John Rescue

By Bob Malacarne

This issue is devoted to hurricane preparedness. The first key point to make is that no one should be out during a hurricane. 

It never fails that as the winds and seas pick up someone has to get to the shore to see how rough the seas are. Be advised that St. John Rescue members will not respond to emergencies during a hurricane. It is much too dangerous to be out and about during a hurricane. Please make sure your home is secured and you have the proper supplies. If this is not possible travel to one of three shelters on St. John. For locations and information about shelters please call VITEMA.

At least 24 to 36 hours before the hurricane strikes you should have done the following:

– Turn off your propane and secure the tanks. Make sure you have full tanks.

– Turn off refrigerators prior to WAPA starting a “brown out” just prior to them turning off power.

– Have at least 10 gallons of drinking water per person in your household.

– Divert cistern downspouts so wind-blown salt water doesn’t enter your cistern.

– Make sure that you have lots of insect repellent.

– Have a gallon of bleach on hand.

– Have plenty of canned or dry foods on hand.

– Don’t forget your pets. They need food, water, and shelter, too.

– Keep a supply of batteries for flashlights, lanterns, radios, etc.

– Keep at least $200 in the house in a secure location.

– Have plenty of large trash bags on hand to be used to store important documents and clothing.

– Have a supply of lamp oil for lanterns. Make sure the wicks are usable.

– Be ready to repair screens. Bring them in the house so they won’t get torn apart.

– Have ear plugs to reduce the noise of the wind and thunder.

– Store important documents in a secure and dry place.

– Have a couple rolls of duct tape on hand.

– Buy solar lights that will be great for free lighting.

– Remove and store any loose items in your yard. They become missiles in a strong wind.

– Pre-charge power tools. Remember you can’t use electric power tools once WAPA turns off the power.

– Sharpen and fuel up chain saws.

– Sharpen machetes.

– If you have a generator use it only in a well ventilated area, keep it secured against theft, and turn off WAPA power at the meter. If you don’t, you will be feeding current to wires that should be “dead.” Anyone coming in contact with one of these live wires could be killed.

– If you don’t have a generator, purchase a 400-watt inverter that converts DC power from your car to AC power.

– Have a couple cans of “Fix a Flat” and tire plug kits on hand.

– Have a fire extinguisher in the house.

– Have some heavy rope that can be used to secure you in case you must go outside.

– If you must go out during the height of the storm, wear a wet suit and dive mask. A raincoat will act as a sail and carry you away.

– Stay in the lowest level of your house and away from windows and doors.

– Keep your cell phone charged.

– Make sure your car or truck is fueled up and in working order.

– Secure your home against looters.

– Have a personal reporting plan for friends and family to check in after the storm.

– Take down antennas and solar panels.

– Please do not cut utility poles or wires. Always assume that downed wires are live.

Once the storm has passed, St. John Rescue members will be traveling across the island to make sure that everyone is safe. Please call 911 if you are injured or know someone who has been injured as a result of the hurricane. We hope and pray that we will be spared again this year. However, if one of these storms comes knocking on our door, St. John Rescue will be ready.