As a former Nova Scotia girl and now a Florida resident, I am used to
storms. Anyone who chooses to live in Florida takes the chance of
running into a few hurricanes and learns very quickly how to prepare
for them. As a nurse in Florida, I have seen many injuries from hurricanes
but it wasn’t from the storm itself. It was from the preparations.
And it starts: “Hurricane so-and-so” is in the Caribbean and is headed for
Florida. The news channels hype it up and all of a sudden we have lines
in the grocery stores and the gas stations. There are very few storms that
we don’t land in the “cone of probability”, so forget the fact we have not
really been hit in 12 years, this could be the one.
Hurricane preparations are different for everyone, depending on where
you live. The biggest fears are wind and water. Because we are very flat,
a storm surge can flood people several miles from the beach if the water
is high enough. The wind literally carries the danger of physical injury
with flying loose objects (hanging plants, lawn chairs) and broken glass.
Many preparations include boarding up the windows, carrying the lawn
furniture and plants in the house, filling sandbags to prevent flooding and
buying large amounts of bottled water and groceries. Do you see where I
am going with this? Every one of these things puts a stress on your back
that you usually don’t have. Most people do not tolerate this change in
activity well, so definitely our business picks up after the storm.
Several things need to be remembered to get through a storm with your
back intact, along with your house.
1) Work as a team. If a few people board up windows in your
neighborhood, get together, help each other and do one house at a time.
A gust of wind on a piece of plywood makes a fine kite with one person
2) Put the kids to work. Make contests that end up with full
sandbags. Fastest filled gets a prize!
3) Have two people go for groceries and supplies. Water is heavy.
A cart or wheelbarrow will be your friend when you get home.
4) Fill your bathtub with water. It saves carrying buckets full of
water through the house to flush the toilet
5) Use proper posture no matter what you are doing. The extra
second it takes to brace yourself and use your legs, will definitely help
you down the road.
Remember, a storm blows through for a day or two. Don’t let the aftermath be
an injury that lasts much longer. Be prepared and stay safe.
- Arcaya MC, Subramanian SV, Rhodes JE, Waters MC. Role of health in predicting moves to poor neighborhoods among Hurricane Katrina survivors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Nov 18;111(46):16246-53. PubMed PMID: 25331883