Hurricane Irma is the most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade and it has left devastation in its wake.
Although Irma has now been downgraded to a tropical depression, the danger isn’t over yet.
Areas affected by Irma include Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, as well as many Caribbean Islands; not least Cuba, the British Virgin Islands, Barbuda and Anguilla.
According to the U.S. National Hurricane Centre, Irma’s maximum sustained winds have dropped to 35mph, but gusts could be much stronger. Meanwhile, Hurricane Jose, which had threatened to strike the Caribbean islands hit by Irma, is predicted to stay away from land in the next few days.
The National Hurricane Centre is now warning of the dangers of heavy rain, flooding, strong winds and rip currents in south-eastern areas of the United States. If you're planning to travel to the area, you can find out the latest travel advice at: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
If you’ve been caught up in Hurricane Irma or its aftermath, and you are covered by travel insurance, get in touch with your insurer as soon as you can and keep all your receipts for emergency accommodation, travel or subsistence expenses. For real-time weather warnings see the U.S. National Hurricane Centre website: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov
IN AN AREA AT RISK?
Ask your travel insurer or tour company for travel advice, and follow guidance from local authorities.
Keep up to date with the latest weather reports from local radio, TV and online forecasts.
Stay away from coastal areas if storm surges and rip currents are expected.
Move to high ground if there’s a chance of flash flooding.
Never drive or walk into moving water, even if it looks shallow. You could easily be swept away. And remember that it doesn’t take much water to float a car.
If floodwaters rise around you when you’re driving, leave the car and move to higher ground if it’s safe to do so.
Stick to bottled water if sanitation is poor.
Avoid going out in strong winds and keep clear of trees.
Don’t touch electrical equipment if you’re wet or standing in water.
Photograph important documents such as passports, insurance policies, credit cards and travel tickets and email them to yourself, in case you lose the originals in an emergency.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from the beginning of June until the end of November, but tropical cyclones can strike at any time of the year.
If you’re planning to travel to an area prone to hurricanes, buy the right travel insurance, before a hurricane is forecast.
Your insurance should reimburse you for pre-paid non-refundable expenses (such as accommodation and travel costs) if you have to cancel, delay or cut short your trip because of a hurricane.
Once you’re abroad, if a hurricane is forecast, listen to advice from the local authorities, hotel staff and holiday reps and move to a safer area if you are told to do so. Contact the assistance helpline number that comes with your travel insurance for further advice.
You may be told to cover windows with protective shutters, protect doors with sandbags and stock up with essential medication, non-perishable food and bottled water. Take this advice seriously.
Keep in touch with your airline or travel company to find out about any delays to your travel back home.
Get yourself some travel tracking technology, with an intelligence feed, to keep up to date about real-time weather and security threats.