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Riding the Storm: An Expat’s Guide to Hurricane Season in the Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands, located in the western Caribbean Sea, are prone to hurricanes, especially during the hurricane season, which generally lasts from June 1 to November 30. Expats living in the Cayman Islands need to take these storms seriously and prepare accordingly. This guide provides an overview of the necessary precautions and preparations.

Stay Informed

Staying up to date with the latest weather information is crucial during hurricane season.

Make sure you monitor the weather through:

– Local Radio & Television: Tune in to local stations for regular updates. Many provide live broadcasts during emergencies.

– Online Weather Services: Utilize websites like the Cayman Islands National Weather Service CINWS and Weather Underground for real-time updates.

– Social Media: Follow local weather authorities on platforms like Twitter and Facebook for updates and warnings.


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– Weather Apps: Consider downloading weather apps specifically designed for hurricane tracking and alerts.

– Sign Up for Alerts: Subscribing to local government alerts ensures you’ll receive timely notifications.

– Hazard Management Cayman Islands: Register with Hazard Management Cayman Islands for emergency alerts, warnings, and preparedness tips.

– Local Community Notifications: Check if your community or housing complex offers specific alert services, which can provide localized information.

– Consular Services: expats should register with their home country’s embassy or consulate. They often provide specific advice and assistance to their citizens during emergencies.

By actively monitoring weather updates and signing up for alerts, you can stay ahead of the storm and make informed decisions. Whether a storm is imminent or you’re just keeping an eye on a distant system, continuous information will help you prepare and respond effectively.

Prepare an Emergency Kit

Assembling an emergency kit is a vital part of hurricane preparedness in the Cayman Islands. Here’s what you should include, along with some local considerations:

  • Non-perishable Food: Stock up on canned goods and other non-perishable food items. Remember to include a manual can opener. Local Stores: Supermarkets like Foster’s and Hurley’s are excellent places to find essential food supplies.
  • Water: Plan for at least one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation. Water Sources: The Cayman Islands can face water scarcity; purchasing bottled water in advance is wise. Local providers like Cayman Water Company can help with larger quantities.
  • First Aid Kit: Include essential medical supplies, and consider adding local remedies for sunburn, insect bites, etc. Pharmacies: Purchase first aid items at local pharmacies like Health Care Pharmacy or CTMH Doctors Hospital Pharmacy.
  • Flashlights and Extra Batteries: Power outages are common during hurricanes. Local Retailers: Consider buying a wind-up or solar-powered flashlight from local hardware stores.
  • Important Documents: Safeguard copies of passports, visas, insurance papers, and other vital documents in a waterproof container. Local Authorities: Know the location of your embassy or consulate and the relevant Cayman Islands Government offices.
  • Prescription Medications: Stock up on essential medications. Medical Facilities: Keep contact information for local healthcare providers, including the Cayman Islands Hospital, in case of emergencies.
  • Cash: ATMs and card machines may not be functional during and after a storm. Currency: Keep a mix of Cayman Islands Dollars (KYD) and US Dollars (USD), as both are accepted locally.
  • Mobile Phone Chargers: Have both wall chargers and car chargers, or even a solar charger. Local Telecom Providers: Consider a backup prepaid phone or SIM from providers like Flow or Digicel, as one network may be more reliable during emergencies.
  • Special Needs Items: Think about specific needs for babies, the elderly, or disabled family members. Include baby food, diapers, special dietary foods, mobility aids, etc.
  • Essential Clothing and Blankets: Pack suitable clothing for tropical weather and rain, including sturdy shoes.

Preparing an emergency kit in the Cayman Islands requires both general preparedness and awareness of local resources and conditions. By understanding what’s available locally and considering the specific needs of your family, you can build a comprehensive kit that will support you through the uncertainties of hurricane season.

Secure Your Residence

Install Storm Shutters: Storm shutters are a must-have in the Cayman Islands, where strong winds and flying debris can break windows. Visit hardware stores like A. L. Thompson’s or Cox Lumber in George Town to purchase hurricane shutters or protection films. Many local companies specialize in hurricane protection. Requesting professional installation ensures proper fitting and maximum protection. Regularly inspect shutters for wear and tear. Some condominiums and housing associations have specific guidelines for the type and appearance of shutters.

Inspect Roof and Drainage: The integrity of roofing and drainage is vital in withstanding torrential rains. Ensure your roof is made of hurricane-resistant materials. If in doubt, consult local contractors who specialize in Cayman-style architecture. Regularly clean and inspect gutters and drains to prevent water buildup. In Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, be mindful of the unique terrain and potential water flow paths. Consider hiring local professionals to assess and reinforce your roof, especially if you live in areas prone to flooding like Lower Valley.

Secure Outdoor Items: Loose objects can become lethal projectiles during a hurricane. Store or securely tie down all outdoor furniture and objects like grills, plant pots, and decorations. In the Cayman Islands, palm fronds and coconuts can become hazardous. Regular maintenance of trees and plants minimizes risk.

Boats & Watercraft: If you own boats or watercraft, be sure to follow local marina guidelines for securing or relocating them. Follow the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands’ recommendations for guidance.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the nearest hurricane shelters and the designated evacuation routes. A full list of shelters can be found at Cayman Prepared’s Shelter List.

Have an Insurance Check-up

In the Cayman Islands, the damage caused by hurricanes can be extensive, making insurance coverage essential. Here’s how to ensure you’re adequately covered:

a. Review Your Policy: Assess your current insurance policy to understand what’s covered and what’s not. Look for specific clauses related to hurricane and flood damage.

b. Consult Local Providers: Many insurance companies in the Cayman Islands offer specialized hurricane coverage. Seek professional advice from companies like Island Heritage or Cayman First.

c. Documentation and Inventory: Keep a documented inventory of valuable possessions, including photographs. Store this information digitally, such as in a cloud service, so it’s accessible if needed.

d. Building Codes Compliance: Ensure your residence complies with local building codes, as failure to do so may affect your insurance coverage.

e. Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA): For more detailed information on insurance requirements and consumer protection, visit CIMA’s website. CIMA regulates the insurance industry in the Cayman Islands and can provide guidance on reputable providers.

Protect Your Pets

Pets are beloved members of many families, and their safety during a hurricane is paramount. Here’s how to ensure their well-being in the Cayman Islands:

a. Identification: Ensure that your pets have proper identification, including a collar with a name tag and a microchip registered with your current contact information.

b. Prepare a Pet Emergency Kit: Along with human essentials, pack an emergency kit for your pets. Include items like food, water, medications, leashes, and litter or bedding.

c. Know Your Shelter Options: Some hurricane shelters in the Cayman Islands may not accommodate pets. Research pet-friendly options or make alternative arrangements with friends, family, or pet boarding facilities.

d. Transport Considerations: Have suitable carriers for transportation and keep them in an easily accessible location.

e. Post-Hurricane Care: Understand that pets can be stressed after a hurricane, and their behavior may change. Keep them leashed and supervised outside, as the landscape and scents may have changed, disorienting them.

f. Cayman Islands Humane Society: The Cayman Islands Humane Society offers valuable resources on pet safety during hurricanes. They may also provide assistance in finding pet-friendly shelters or boarding options.

Conclusion

Being prepared for hurricane season in the Cayman Islands requires awareness, planning, and action. By following these guidelines, expats can help ensure their safety and the safety of their property. For comprehensive information, always consult local government websites and stay connected with local news outlets.


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