Hurricane Survival

DEBUNK THOSE HURRICANE MYTHS

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by Tim Smith

You may have heard them from your grandmother, your elderly neighbour or the self-appointed experts on your favourite internet forum. 

But can we really trust hurricane folklore – or is it safer to allow those old myths to blow away in the storm? 

MYTH : It’s safe to go and explore in the eye of the storm 

The eye may be calm, but the area surrounding it can be the fiercest part of the storm. 

The Bermuda Government states: “Depending on the storm system, the eye could pass over Bermuda. This is a time when there is reduced wind activity; the storm is still active during this period. Remain indoors.” 

Monitor all official media sources, including The Royal Gazette’s website, for updates. They will let you know when it is safe to go outside. 

MYTH: Opening a window will equalise pressure in your house 

There is nothing scientific to suggest this is a good idea. 

Firstly, buildings are not airtight and they have many little gaps that would render opening a window pointless. 

Secondly, opening a window or garage door can allow the wind to cause much more damage inside your home. 

AccuWeather debunks the myth with a comment from Amber Silver, the assistant professor at the University at Albany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity. 

“The belief is that you need to open up windows and garage doors to equalise pressure, but it’s not correct,” she said. 

“Structurally, leaving those large openings allows for wind to come in, which means that the wind has to move forcibly and can cause a lot of damage. 

MYTH: Taping your windows will stop them breaking during a storm 

Unfortunately, glass can still shatter even if it has tape on it. 

Kim Powell, a manager at Island Glass, said: “Taping windows and doors will not stop the glass from breaking. It will only stop the glass from going all over the place if completely taped up. 

“This has been one of those ‘things’ done from the old days, but it is not effective at all.” 

A more sensible solution is to install panels, blinds or shutters. 

MYTH: Putting force against a door will stop it from breaking 

If a wind is strong enough to rip off a door, it will do so even if you’re standing in front of it. Make sure your storm protection is done properly before the storm, instead of trying DIY in the middle of a hurricane. 

MYTH: Removing mirrors from your walls before a storm will stop them getting struck by lightning 

Lightning bolts are not attracted to mirrors or anything metallic. 

According to the National Weather Service in the United States, the dominant factors controlling where lightning will strike are an object’s height, pointiness and isolation. Mountains, which are made of stone, get struck by lightning many times a year. 

But although metal does not attract lightning, it does conduct it – so stay away from metal fences and railings. 

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