The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response encourages local residents to take the following actions to protect their health and safety during a hurricane:
Following is advice from the South Carolina Emergency Management Division:
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; flashlight with extra batteries; portable battery-operated radio; first-aid kit; non-electric can opener; essential medicines; cash and credit cards.
• Make arrangements for pets. Pets are not allowed in official 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 well-trimmed.
• 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 in your area, you should:
• Listen to the radio or watch TV for information.
• Secure your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
• 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 live in a high-rise building — hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
• If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an inland waterway.
• If you feel you are in danger.
Preparing before a storm for your medical needs
• If you regularly take prescription medicines, check your inventory. If you are low on prescription medicine, check into the possibility of refilling your prescriptions early.
• If you take medications that need to be refrigerated, talk with your doctor about how to keep them properly stored if the electricity goes out so the medicine remains effective.
• If you have a doctor’s appointment scheduled during the immediate time period during or after the storm for a health condition that requires regular monitoring or follow up, call your doctor’s office to see if you should reschedule your appointment before the storm hits.
• For those who use oxygen concentrators, ventilators, or other medical devices at home, start making plans to ensure your equipment is fully charged and know where to go if the battery does not work. If you use a dialysis center, talk with your doctor or staff at the center about coming in for early dialysis and where to go if the center is closed after the storm.
• If you have chronic or complicated health issues and live alone make sure you have a plan to touch base with your family or friends. They will want to know that you are alright or if you need help. Letting your relatives know your plans also prevents them from going into storm-hit areas to search for you, putting themselves in harm’s way.
• Make sure to have enough drinkable water available to prevent dehydration. Also, if you have special dietary requirements, you should have enough on hand to last several days after the storm.
• People who have service animals or pets should make sure there is enough water, food, and medications (if needed) for them to last until several days after the storm.
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-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 reentering.
• 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 down 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.