Think summer in Hong Kong and there are three words that come to mind: heat, humidity and typhoons. Also called cyclones or hurricanes, typhoons are intense tropical storms characterised by heavy rain and high winds. In Hong Kong, the period between May and November is considered typhoon season. However, the city is more likely to experience severe typhoons between July and September, which is typically when many residents head out of the city on vacation.

The Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) has a typhoon signal and rainstorm warning system by which it keeps Hongkongers updated about the latest weather warnings. It usually gives residents a few days’ notice about severe weather. Read on to know how you can prepare for a typhoon, whether you’re in the city or heading out for a trip in the summer.

How to prepare for a typhoon when you’re in the city

Use the following checklist when you’re prepping for a typhoon:

  • Take care of outdoor furniture: Bring any outdoor or balcony furniture inside. This applies to everything from clothes stands to lawn furniture.
  • Do a garden check: If you have trees in your garden, trim any overgrown branches so they don’t break off and fly into windows during a storm.
  • Stock up on food and essentials: It isn’t advisable to step out during a typhoon, especially a severe one. Do a grocery run a couple of days earlier and pick up everything you’ll need to ride the storm out. Don’t rely on delivery services as they’ll probably be suspended.
  • Be ready for leaks: Keep lots of newspaper, towels or anything absorbent handy in case your windows or balcony doors spring leaks.
  • Prepare for power outages: Pack an emergency kit with a flashlight and first-aid essentials. Charge your devices and power banks, and get a portable WiFi router, especially if you’re working from home.
  • Clear your roof and balcony drains: Remove any leaves that cover drains and move anything that could prevent water from flowing into them.
  • Secure boats: If you live in a houseboat, consider checking into a hotel or staying at a friend’s place. Other boat owners should ensure their vessels are securely moored.
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How to prepare your home for a typhoon when you’re travelling

Here are some extra precautions you can take before you leave the city on holiday:

  • Check the house for potential leaks: Seal and waterproof any windows or glass doors that are prone to leaks. Place towels or any other absorbent material on the floor near these places. Move furniture and electrical equipment away from these areas.
  • Lock and bolt balcony and garden doors: While lower-level homes may escape window breaks, high winds can still blow doors open.
  • Use glass protection film on your windows: Taping windows before a typhoon is a common practice in Hong Kong, but it’s safer to use glass protection film during a severe storm, especially for an apartment in a high-rise building.
  • Empty your fridge and turn it off: Don’t rely on a post-trip freezer food stash for your meals after your return to the city. Clear out your fridge and turn it off in the event of a power outage during a typhoon.

You can monitor the path of a typhoon on the HKO website or on its app, whether you’re in the city or abroad. You can also use other weather websites (and their corresponding apps) like Windy for a weather forecast visualisation or AccuWeather for district-wise updates. If you need help during a typhoon or heavy rains, call any of the emergency numbers on this list.

Header image credits: He Jun Ran via Canva

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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