Thanks to Miss Irene, many Charlestonians are gearing up for what could be one of their first Category 3 hurricanes they may have ever experienced. This is not to say that Charleston does not have hurricanes (although the past few years have been good to us), but rather we have a lot of people that are inland transplants that may have never had the experience first hand.
In my discussion the last day and half, I have been shocked to hear how little people actually know about what to do when there is a chance of a hurricane. It is for this reason that I am writing this post, in the hopes that even if this storm does not hit, perhaps a few people may be more prepared than before.
1. Your property:
I list this first because this is something that people often forget until it is too late.
- Make sure you have renters/homeowner’s insurance. For renters, this can often been purchased the same week of a storm and is generally very affordable.
- Pack all valuable documents in water-safe containers, make copies to be kept somewhere separate.
- Take pictures of every room in your house.
- Take pictures of all valuable items.
- Buy plastic tubs for all items that could be damaged by water but that you would not be able to evacuate with.
- Make a list of what items you will take with you in case of evacuation.
- If you are in danger of flooding, raise everything off the ground with cinder-blocks, create a sandbag wall around your doors, and duck-tape the bottom seams of the doors from the inside and outside (I have seen more than one case of this actually stopping water from coming in.)
- If you are going to leave your house and evacuate, move valuables away from windows, cover with tarps, hang hurricane protection over your windows, and take what you can.
- Consider parking your vehicle in a parking deck to avoid damage and/or flooding.
This is a checklist from NOAA. Also consider what you would need to take in case of an evacuation.
Water – at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days
- Food – at least enough for 3 to 7 days
— non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices
— foods for infants or the elderly
— snack foods
— non-electric can opener
— cooking tools / fuel (propane camping stove and fuel)
— paper plates / plastic utensils
- Blankets / Pillows, etc.
- Clothing – seasonal / rain gear/ sturdy shoes
- First Aid Kit / Medicines / Prescription Drugs
- Special Items – for babies and the elderly
- Toiletries / Hygiene items / Moisture wipes
- Flashlight / Batteries
- Radio – Battery operated and NOAA weather radio
- Telephones – Fully charged cell phone with extra battery and a traditional (not cordless) telephone set
- Cash (with some small bills) and Credit Cards – Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods
- Toys, Books and Games
- Important documents – in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag
— insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.
- Tools – keep a set with you during the storm
- Vehicle fuel tanks filled (buy extra gas can and fill as well)
- Pet care items
— proper identification / immunization records / medications
— ample supply of food and water
— a carrier or cage
— muzzle and leash
3. To stay or to go:
Obviously, you need to make this decision based on what is most appropriate for you and your situation. That being said, here are some things to consider.
- What category is the storm? Category 3 and above should evacuate but if you are living in an area that could flood, be cut off by flooding of roads, or is isolated- any hurricane can pose a threat.
- What type of home do you live in? Can your house get flooded? Are their any large trees over your house that could come through the house? Do you have a safe place in the house with no windows that you can safely hide? If flood waters rose, would you be able to climb to higher ground?
- If you were to be cut off from power and water for 7-10 days, would you be able to survive off of the supplies you currently have?
- Do you have somewhere safer to go? Consider asking around with family, friends and co-workers to see if there is an alternative place for you to go, how long you can stay, and if your pets are welcome.
- Will your employer expect you to return the day after the hurricane? You would be surprised.
4. Other things people often forget.
- If you evacuate, shut off your water valves, cut-off your main breaker, and unplug everything before you leave.
- Getting contact information from your neighbors so if you evacuate you can find out how your house is.
- Extra coolers filled with ice-packs to unpack your fridge into if the power goes out.
- Generator and fuel is always a fun item (if you have the money…)
- Fill your bath-tubs and sinks with water the night/day of the hurricane… this way you will have even more potable water.
- Expect excessive evacuation delays and how much gas this could potentially use.
- In addition to filling your car with gas, check all fluids, tire pressure, filters, etc.
- Either own or know someone with a chain-saw and fuel.
- Let other people know your plan so they don’t have to worry!
Due to sheer exhaustion, I am going to give this a rest and hope that Irene will as well!!
Stay safe and always remember- it is better safe than sorry. So buy everything you could ever need and keep the receipts in case you don’t!!