Have a hurricane plan and ensure everyone in the household knows the plan

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HURRICANE SEASON IS UNDERWAY AND IT’S A GREAT TIME TO MAKE SURE YOU’RE PREPARED.

THE SEASON IS FROM JUNE 1 TO NOV. 30, WITH THE HIGHEST PROBABILITY FOR A STORM STARTING MID-AUGUST AND ENDING LATE SEPTEMBER.

Since 1804, 12 hurricanes have had an impact on the area. The most recent was Hurricane Hugo in 1989. No damage was done on Hilton Head Island, but the mandatory evacuation took an economic toll. Floyd also came close in 1999, but only resulted in a few downed branches (although anyone who went through that evacuation will tell you it was a challenge, to say the least).

The most serious hurricane was Gracie in 1959. With winds up to 140 mph, the Category 4 storm resulted in fi ve local deaths and caused $1.5 million in damages in Beaufort and Jasper counties. In 2004, Beaufort County was placed under voluntary evacuation for Hurricane Charley. It was the last local evacuation so far.

The greatest threat to life and property associated with a hurricane or tropical storm is storm surge. Other dangers include high winds, tornadoes and inland flooding associated with heavy rainfall that usually accompanies these storms. You can take steps to minimize the loss of life or property during a hurricane. Remember, if a hurricane occurs, emergency responders may not be able to immediately reach you. You should be prepared to be self-sustaining for at least three days.

BEFORE A HURRICANE

Have a hurricane plan and ensure everyone in the household knows the plan.

  • Know your evacuation route.
  • Have an emergency supplies kit prepared, to include at least: three days drinking water (two quarts per person per day); non-perishable food; flashligh with extra batteries; portable battery-operated radio; first-ai kit; non-electric can opener; essential medicines; cash and credit cards.
  • Make arrangements for pets. Pets are not allowed in officia shelters.
  • Protect your home by covering windows with permanent shutters, plywood panels or other shielding materials. Bring in lawn furniture and other loose objects, such as garbage cans, that may become a hazard during high winds.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are welltrimmed.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.
  • Fuel up and service family vehicles.

If a hurricane is likely, you should:

  • Secure your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor objects.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.

You should evacuate under the following conditions:

  • If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure — such shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes no matter how well-fastened to the ground.
  • If you feel you are in danger.

DURING A HURRICANE

If you are unable to evacuate, you should:

  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors and secure and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm. Winds will pick up again.
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
  • Be alert. Tornadoes are frequently spawned during hurricanes.

AFTER A HURRICANE

  • Wait until an area is declared safe before re-entering.
  • Do not drive in flooded areas.
  • Avoid using candles or other open flames indoors. Use a flashlight to inspect damage.
  • Check gas, water, electrical lines and appliances for damage.
  • Avoid any loose or downed power lines and report them to your power company.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until local officials have declared it safe to drink.

LOCAL SHELTERS

Bluffton Elementary School: 106 H.E. McCracken Circle, Bluffton

H.E. McCracken Middle School: 205 H.E. McCracken Circle, Bluffton

Okatie Elementary School: 53 Cherry Point Road, Okatie

SAFFIR-SIMPSON WIND SCALE

CATEGORY, SUSTAINED WINDS, TYPES OF DAMAGE DUE TO HURRICANE WINDS

HURRICANEseasons03Tropical depression:
0-38 mph, minimal

Tropical storm:
39-73 mph, minimal

Category 1, 74-95 mph:
Very dangerous winds will produce some damage. Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.

Category 2, 96-110 mph:
Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage. Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.

Category 3, 111-129 mph:
Devastating damage will occur. Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.

Category 4, 130-156 mph:
Catastrophic damage will occur. Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/ or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Category 5, 157 mph or higher:
Catastrophic damage will occur. A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.