As we reach the mid-way point of hurricane season, there’s never been a more critical time to prepare yourself for a natural disaster. Running from June 1 through November 30 each year, hurricane season this year is different due to COVID-19. Plan ahead to help prepare for this hurricane season.
Preparing for a Hurricane
There’s a lot that goes into hurricane preparedness. We’ve put together a list of essential considerations and supplies to help you get through this hurricane season.
Make a plan and make sure to prepare your family.
- Write down emergency numbers and keep them close to you. This way, if you lose power and can’t charge your cell phone, you have a backup list of contact numbers. Make sure to program all emergency numbers into your phone, so if you can recharge your phone, you can quickly make calls.
- Prepare an emergency supply kit.
- Locate the nearest shelter and review all routes to get there from your work or home. The Emergency Management Division has a complete list of accommodations when South Carolina has a hurricane warning.
- If you have pets, identify shelters, out-of-town friends or family and even pet-friendly hotels that can take your pets should an evacuation be necessary. Local animal shelters can also provide information and advice about what to do with pets during an evacuation.
2. Emergency Supplies
During and after a hurricane, your family will need essential supplies to stay safe and healthy. It’s important to remember that a hurricane can leave you without power and water for days to weeks. If the roads are severely damaged, you may not be able to drive anywhere, either.
Creating an emergency preparedness kit is essential. Here are some things to consider when putting a kit together.
- Food and water
- Medicine supply
- Flashlights and emergency power sources , including power banks for cell phones
- Safety and personal items
- Important documents , such as passports, social security cards, personal identification, wills and medical information
- A fire extinguisher
3. Vehicle Preparation
If a storm is heading your way before it hits, make sure to prepare your vehicle.
- Fill your vehicle’s tank with gas
- Move all vehicles into an undercover area or your garage
- Stash an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle that has jumper cables, ice scraper, flares or a reflective triangle, blanket, map, car cell phone charger and cat litter or sand (which helps your tires gain better traction)
- Visit Ready.gov for more in-depth vehicle safety preparation tips
If you don’t own a vehicle, make sure that you have family or friends who can help you evacuate.
4. Family and Pet Preparation
Preparation is essential for a hurricane so you and your family can stay safe.
- Regularly review your emergency plan with your children and family.
- If a storm is heading your way, check for updates regularly. You can check online, download a weather app for alerts, listen to the radio or watch TV.
- If you or a loved one is disabled or older and is unable to evacuate, contact the police, public health department or hospital for advice.
- Always put farm animals and pets in a safe place. Review pet safety emergency tips here.
5. Home Preparedness
- Clean up your yard and remove all debris or anything that could blow around and cause damage, such as lawn furniture, bikes, grills, propane tanks, firewood, etc.
- Cover all doors and windows using storm shutters or nail plywood to the outside of your window frames to help protect your windows from damage.
- Be prepared to turn off your power if you see downed power lines, flooding or if you have to evacuate your home.
- Fill and keep on hand clean water containers for necessary drinking water. If you lose your water supply during the storm, you’ll have a backup. Also, consider filling your bathtubs and sinks for water to wash, boil or bathe.
- Make sure that your fire alarm and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
6. Hurricane Watch vs. Hurricane Warning
You may see that a hurricane is heading your way, but if it’s a hurricane watch or a warning is critical information to assess. There are two kinds of alerts issued by the National Weather Service.
- A hurricane watch indicates that hurricane-like conditions are possible, which means sustained winds of 74 miles per hour (MPH) or higher. You’ll see a hurricane watch announced about 48 hours before tropical-storm-force winds begin (39 to 73 MPH).
- A hurricane warning is serious. It means that your area is expecting to experience hurricane-force winds. These warnings are issued about 36 hours before tropical-storm-force winds hit the area.
The National Weather Service highlights all hurricane warnings, watches, advisories and outlooks.
7. Evacuation vs. Staying Home
Remember that it’s important to always listen to authorities about whether you should evacuate or stay at home during a hurricane. If the government issues an evacuation order, it is for a reason, so never ignore this, as even well-built houses can succumb to hurricane damage. Additionally, if driving conditions are hazardous, authorities may also issue a stay-at-home order.
If the local government issues an evacuation request, remember to do the following before leaving your home.
- Bring your emergency supply kit with you.
- Unplug all appliances, and if possible, turn off gas, electricity and water.
- Even if there is traffic, follow the advised evacuation route. If you encounter a flooded area, don’t drive through it. Vehicles in as little as six inches of water may stall or be swept away.
- Contact South Carolina’s Emergency Management Division for a list of open shelters in your area.
If the local government requests that everyone stay-at-home during a hurricane, you also need to be prepared.
- Keep your emergency supply kit in an easily accessible location.
- Listen to the TV, radio or check the internet for hurricane updates.
- Stay inside - even if it looks calm. Wait until you see or hear an official update that the hurricane has passed before leaving your home. It can appear calm outside for a second, only to have a storm surge.
- Stay away from windows at all times. If possible, stay in a room that has no windows or seek shelter inside a closet.
- Be ready to leave if the government calls for an evacuation.
South Carolina Power Outages
In the event of a hurricane, there may be power outages, and Home Telecom’s services may experience disruptions. As noted below in the infographic, different power stations service different areas, which means that some streets may have power and cable and internet services, while other homes on the same street may not. If you are experiencing an outage report, you may file a form online to alert Home Telecom.