High-rise emergency prep a top priority
by Robert Yang | June 29, 2021
Last year, we were fortunate that we did not experience the full brute force of Hurricane Douglas. If we had, then preparation would have been key to our survival. I live in a condominium and there are unique challenges high-rise residents face when it comes to surviving a storm or evacuating when conditions become unsafe. Hurricane season is here so if you haven’t started preparing already, now’s the time to act.
Let’s get the very basics out of the way. At the very least, you’ll need a 14-day supply of food and water (per person), a flashlight and a first aid kit. Make sure your emergency food supply can last for months or even years after purchase and is rich in protein. Don’t forget to include the can opener for your canned goods! For your first aid kit, remember to include special medications that you or your family members will need. Keep these resources in an easy-to-spot location. I leave mine in the hallway so when it’s time to use it, it’s easy to find and grab.
Here’s a downside to living in a high-rise — many of us are prohibited from using generators. High-rises are not designed to properly ventilate a generator’s hazardous fumes. If an outage occurs, we won’t have access to our stoves or hot food. So make sure you have lots of ready-to-eat packaged or canned foods.
Move any furniture you may have on your balcony indoors. This prevents high winds from throwing your furniture into any windows or doors. Even worse, winds may be strong enough move your outdoor furniture off your balcony and into the streets, where it becomes a safety concern for others. If there is no room indoors, then lay your furniture as flat as possible on the balcony. I have a garden on mine and moving it indoors is the safest thing to do when a storm is headed our way.
In a home, when conditions get too severe, you can easily evacuate by stepping outside. In a high-rise, elevators aren’t available during an emergency. If a hurricane or other emergency forces you to evacuate, it’s important to know your escape route ahead of time. From time to time, I walk down the fire exit as exercise. If or when the time comes, I’ll know where the fire exit is without thinking about it. My body has already adapted to the traveling down so many flights of stairs. This tip will also help you learn how to navigate the bottom floor of your fire exit, which may have additional doors and turns.
Being prepared and knowing what to do is key to surviving hurricanes and other emergencies. Check your building’s lobby area for Hawaiian Electric’s Handbook for Emergency Preparedness. You also may view and download the handbook here if you don’t find it in your lobby. Whether in a high-rise or single-family home, let’s all stay safe during this year’s hurricane season!
Robert Yang is a digital communications and social media specialist at Hawaiian Electric Company.