I remember my mother worrying about typhoons in the Philippines. I didn’t understand what a typhoon was really. I mean, I knew what a hurricane, tornado, and thunderstorm looked like, but a typhoon? Did it have all of those things? Now that I live in a place where typhoons hit as much as hurricanes hit any coastal U.S. town, I have a better idea of what a typhoon is, and why my mother worried so much.
I live in Okinawa, Japan, where the people seem to instinctively know when a typhoon is going to hit. They can even break down what kind type of typhoon it is and where and when it will hit. Particularly, they always warn me about them ahead of time because they don’t want me to be caught unprepared, as so many foreign residents are sometimes wondering where their buckets and patio furniture covers disappear to in the aftermath.
I’ve learned that if someone tells you a typhoon is coming, you have to hit the stores and lock up belongings that are outside. The normal warning is to stock up with enough food for 3 to 4 days, since some typhoons can last for more than 24 hours. Of course, the food that you get is really important. The best kind of food to get for typhoons is food that doesn’t require heat to be cooked nor cold to be refrigerator. In case of a power outage, which happens more often when the typhoon is a Category 3 out of 5 or higher, none of your appliances will work, and it may take some time before they work again. Food like canned perishables, bread, and fruits can be good for those times, as they don’t require heat or cold to stay fresh or be cooked. (Ramen may seem like a good option, but you need hot water for the noodles to become soft).
Aside from food, bringing in all of your outdoor belongings will keep your things from becoming gone with the wind. Anything can be blown away, from buckets and garbage cans to clothes and light patio furniture. Normally, my husband and I bring in our bikes from the veranda (we live in an apartment) so that the rain doesn’t turn them into rust. Whatever is easy to move is better to be taken inside. The wind is really, really strong.
I always have certain supplies on hand in case something does happen. Besides a first aid kit, I have a working flashlight for power outages, charged cell phones in any case of emergency, and entertainment items, like movies, games, and cards to keep from boredom, since you will get stuck inside your place during a typhoon.
With typhoons, you don’t want to be caught outside. Not everyone puts their belongings away, so it becomes a flying hazard for anyone outside. Power lines and trees can get dislodged, giving more threatening hazards. And even if you see cars outside, it’s better not to drive yourself because the roads are slippery, the rain is heavy, and the wind is howling.
All in all, typhoons can be really scary, but if you’re prepared, you won’t have to worry much.