Nicaragua is prone to hurricanes. If traveling to or residing in Nicaragua during the rainy season – which runs mid-May through November – it is important to review hurricane emergency preparedness procedures and stock up on some essentials.
Additional information on hurricanes and storm preparedness may be found in the “Hurricane Season-Know Before You Go” pamphlet at: http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis_pa_tw_2915.html, and on the “Natural Disasters” page of the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website at: http://travel.
state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1207.html. Travelers to the region are encouraged to check the Internet site of the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua: http://nicaragua.usembassy.gov.
Preparing for a Hurricane
If you are under a hurricane watch or warning, here are some basic steps to take to prepare for the storm:
- Learn about your community's emergency plans, warning signals, evacuation routes, and locations of emergency shelters.
- Identify potential home hazards and know how to secure or protect them before the hurricane strikes. Be prepared to turn off electrical power when there is standing water, fallen power lines, or before you evacuate. Turn off gas and water supplies before you evacuate. Secure structurally unstable building materials.
- Buy a fire extinguisher and make sure your family knows where to find it and how to use it.
- Locate and secure your important papers, such as insurance policies, wills, licenses, stocks, etc.
- Post emergency phone numbers at every phone.
- Inform local authorities about any special needs, i.e., elderly or bedridden people, or anyone with a disability.
- Make plans to ensure your pets' safety.
Emergency Supplies You Will Need
U.S. citizens traveling to storm-prone regions overseas should prepare for hurricanes and tropical storms by organizing a kit containing a supply of bottled water, non-perishable food items, a battery-powered or hand crank radio, and vital documents (especially passport and identification) in a waterproof container. Emergency shelters often have access only to basic resources and limited medical and food supplies.
U.S. citizens residing in storm-prone regions overseas should stock their home with supplies that may be needed during the emergency period. At a minimum, these supplies should include:
- Several clean containers for water, large enough for a 3-5 day supply of water (about five gallons for each person).
- A 3-5 day supply of non-perishable food.
- A first aid kit and manual.
- A battery-powered radio, flashlights, and extra batteries.
- Sleeping bags or extra blankets.
- Water-purifying supplies, such as chlorine or iodine tablets or unscented, ordinary household chlorine bleach.
- Prescription medicines and special medical needs.
- Baby food and/or prepared formula, diapers, and other baby supplies.
- Disposable cleaning cloths, such as "baby wipes" for the whole family to use in case bathing facilities are not available.
- Personal hygiene supplies, such as soap, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, etc.
- An emergency kit for your car with food, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, sleeping bags, etc.
You can find more information on emergency plans and supply kits at www.ready.gov.
Preparing to Evacuate
Expect the need to evacuate and prepare for it. The National Weather Service will issue a hurricane watch when there is a threat to coastal areas of hurricane conditions within 24-36 hours.
When a hurricane watch is issued, you should:
- Fill your automobile's gas tank.
- If no vehicle is available, make arrangements with friends or family for transportation.
- Fill your clean water containers.
- Review your emergency plans and supplies, checking to see if any items are missing.
- Tune in the radio or television for weather updates.
- Listen for disaster sirens and warning signals.
- Prepare an emergency kit for your car with food, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, sleeping bags, etc.
- Secure any items outside which may damage property in a storm, such as bicycles, grills, propane tanks, etc.
- Cover windows and doors with plywood or boards or place large strips of masking tape or adhesive tape on the windows to reduce the risk of breakage and flying glass.
- Put livestock and family pets in a safe area. Due to food and sanitation requirements, emergency shelters cannot accept animals.
- Place vehicles under cover, if at all possible.
- Fill sinks and bathtubs with water as an extra supply for washing.
- Adjust the thermostat on refrigerators and freezers to the coolest possible temperature.
If You are Ordered to Evacuate . . .
Because of the destructive power of a hurricane, you should never ignore an evacuation order. Authorities will be most likely to direct you to leave if you are in a low-lying area, or within the greatest potential path of the storm. Be aware that most shelters and some hotels do not accept pets. If a hurricane warning is issued for your area or you are directed by authorities to evacuate the area:
- Take only essential items with you.
- If you have time, turn off the gas, electricity, and water.
- Disconnect appliances to reduce the likelihood of electrical shock when power is restored.
- Make sure your automobile's emergency kit is ready.
- Follow the designated evacuation routes—others may be blocked—and expect heavy traffic.
Should a situation require an evacuation from an overseas location, the State Department will work with commercial airlines to ensure the safest and most efficient repatriation of U.S. citizens possible. Commercial airlines are the Department’s primary source of transportation in an evacuation. Other means of transport are utilized only as a last resort. The Department of State will not provide no-cost transportation but does have the authority to provide repatriation loans to those in financial need. U.S. citizens should obtain travel insurance to cover unexpected expenses during an emergency.
If You Are Ordered NOT to Evacuate . . .
The great majority of injuries during a hurricane are cuts caused by flying glass or other debris. Other injuries include puncture wounds resulting from exposed nails, metal, or glass, and bone fractures.
To get through the storm in the safest possible manner:
- Monitor the radio or television for weather conditions, if possible.
- Stay indoors until the authorities declare the storm is over.
- Do not go outside, even if the weather appears to have calmed—the calm "eye" of the storm can pass quickly, leaving you outside when strong winds resume.
- Stay away from all windows and exterior doors, seeking shelter in a bathroom or basement. Bathtubs can provide some shelter if you cover yourself with plywood or other materials.
- Prepare to evacuate to a shelter or to a neighbor's home if your home is damaged, or if you are instructed to do so by emergency personnel.
U.S. citizens should monitor local radio, the National Weather Service at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov, and other media to stay aware of any weather developments in their area. Minor tropical storms can develop into hurricanes very quickly, limiting the time available for a safe evacuation. Travelers should apprise family and friends in the United States of their whereabouts, and keep in close contact with their tour operator, hotel staff, and local officials for evacuation instructions in the event of a weather emergency.
U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the Department of State’s travel registration website at https://travelregistration.state.gov. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known. While Consular Officers will do their utmost to assist Americans in a crisis, travelers should always be aware that local authorities bear primary responsibility for the welfare of people living or traveling in their jurisdictions.