PREP EARLY FOR HURRICANES TO STAY SAFE
Recently, Gov. Henry McMaster warned residents of the Lowcountry and the rest of the state to get ready for an active storm season.
“Here we are, in hurricane season in the middle of a pandemic,” said McMaster, who called the next five months “a heavy hurricane year” because forecasters predict an above average number of hurricanes with greater than normal strength.
The season is from June 1 to Nov. 30, with the heaviest months usually in August through October. Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast that we would see between 13 and 19 named storms this year. They say three to six of those storms could be major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.
“We need everyone to be their own emergency manager,” said Kim Stenson, Director of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division. “Due to COVID-19, we want everyone to remember: time, space, people and place.”
Stenson said residents should give themselves enough time to prepare for a hurricane; make social distancing part of their hurricane planning; make sure everyone in the household knows the family’s hurricane plan; and know where you will go once an evacuation order has been issued. Many Lowcountry residents report that they will not evacuate to the homes of elderly residents or friends this year due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Marshall Taylor, general counsel for the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, told reporters that because of the pandemic, everyone evacuating from coastal areas is advised to bring with them cloth face masks, soap, hand sanitizer and disinfectant. Here are some tips to stay safe.
- Know your evacuation zone. Evacuations are announced by designated zones. View the map found on the S.C Emergency Management Division website (scemd.org) and identify your hurricane evacuation zone and routes. Do not rely on your GPS or seek shortcuts, which may be blocked off or unsafe.
- Make an emergency plan with your family. Ensure everyone knows what to do.
- Have an emergency kit, which should include a minimum of three days of non-perishable food, drinking water, first aid supplies, flashlight with extra batteries, medications, important documents and cash and credit cards.
- Place in a watertight container: your ID cards, bank information, copies of insurance policies, emergency contact information, pet medical records, medications, doctor contact information, instructions on how to operate any medical equipment you use. Don’t forget to put an ID tag on your pet.
- Include personal hygiene and sanitation items, such as wet wipes, antibacterial cleaning products, hand sanitizer, towels, trash bags, dust masks, feminine supplies and an extra change of clothes for each person in the household.
- Keep extra items on hand for children: crayons, paper, books, puzzles.
- If you are disabled, contact your local government’s emergency information management office. Many local officials create contact lists of disabled residents to be able to check on them and provide help in a sudden emergency. If you are on dialysis or another life-sustaining treatment, identify a few locations available for treatment. Leave an extra key to your home with a trusted person so they are able to check on you. If your medical device needs electricity, ask your healthcare provider or doctor what you should do if there is a power outage. Wear a medical bracelet.
IF YOU EVACUATE
- Turn off gas, electricity, and water.
- Charge your cell phone and mobile devices, and have extra chargers.
- Prepare your vehicle by getting an inspection and checking your oil and tire pressure before you get on the road. Keep your gas tank full in the days before an evacuation.
- Carry emergency items including a spare tire, tool kit, emergency flares, towels, gloves and jumper cables.
- Know where you will go. Stay with family, friends or a hotel far inland. If those options are not available, the S.C. Department of Social Services and the American Red Cross will provide a safe place.
- Make arrangements for pets, which are not allowed in most shelters.
STAY SAFE DURING COVID-19
- Each person entering a shelter will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.
- Shelter staff will provide additional cleaning stations and set up isolation areas if needed.
- SCEMD said because of the possibility of coronavirus infections, fewer people may be able to stay in each emergency shelter.
- The CDC recommends having a kit with hand sanitizer, or bar or liquid soap, and two cloth face coverings for each person. Face covers should not be used by children under the age of 2.
- When you check on neighbors and friends, be sure to follow social distancing recommendations (staying at least 6 feet, about 2 arms’ length, from others).
- The SC Emergency Manager mobile app, scemd.org, and road signs will have real-time information on all open shelters nearest to your evacuation route.
Due to COVID-19, we want everyone to remember: time, space, people and place.
– KIM STENSON, DIRECTOR OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIVISION
WHAT TO DO AFTER THE HURRICANE
- Return home only after it is declared safe.
- Check gas, water, electrical lines and appliances for damage.
- Use a flashlight to inspect damage.
- Take pictures of damage which will help in filing insurance claims.
- Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible.
- Don’t ever swim, drive or walk through flood waters.
- Do not touch downed power lines or tree limbs touching power lines.
- As soon as it is safe, contact your friends and family through texts and/ or social media to let them know if you need help or if you are OK.
S.C. Hurricane Guide
Town of Hilton Head Emergency Prep Guide
Beaufort County Emergency Management
Beaufort County Sheriff's Office Nixle Alerts
CDC Hurricane Prep
National Hurricane Center