Guide to Emergency Preparedness
View HHI Guide for Emergency Preparedness.
In the Lowcountry, we are vulnerable to a variety of hazards including hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes, wildfires, hazardous materials incidents, terrorism, power outages, and resource shortages. These types of events affect thousands of citizens across the country annually with significant financial impacts and tragic losses. We have the ability to reduce the impact on ourselves and our community.
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The elephant in the room and a topic no one likes to discuss, tropical weather is a reality in our neck of the woods. Storms aside, most Lowcountry residents wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, and we know that preparation is the key to being ready for any bad weather that comes our way. Hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th every year. Here are a few of our favorite tips and resources to help you prepare.
Have a Plan
The number one key to having a less stressful storm season is having a plan and sticking with it. Know what you will do if you plan to stay and know where you will go if you plan to leave. Do not wait until an evacuation order is issued to find lodging – especially if you have animals. Overnight accommodations get booked extremely quickly. Remember: it’s much easier to cancel a reservation if an evacuation is not necessary than it is to find a room at the last minute.
Drive Your Evacuation Route
If you are new to the area or are unfamiliar with other parts of the region, take a leisurely drive one day (when there are no storms on the horizon) and travel the first part of your evacuation route. Having a comfort level with where you are going, as well as where the gas stations, restrooms and dining options are, will help alleviate stress. Well-marked signs are frequently posted along authorized evacuation routes. Keep in mind, once an evacuation order goes into effect it becomes mandatory to follow these authorized routes and law enforcement will ensure you do not deviate from them. If you know in advance that you would prefer to take a different road, allow for that in your plan and leave as early as you can.
Keep all your important paperwork and priceless valuables in a central location, so you can easily and quickly grab them and pack them or transfer to them to a more secure location in your home. Another tip: make a list of all items you would like to evacuate if becomes necessary. Preparing a plan and being organized are the keys to having a low-stress hurricane season.
Get Information from Official Sources
Rumors run rampant when a storm is approaching and the best thing you can do is get your information from official sources. Listening to the scuttlebutt on social media will cause undue stress and confusion. Below are links to trusted sources.
South Carolina Emergency Management Division
This excellent website includes information on finding your zone, evacuation routes, emergency shelters, and more
This site, run by South Carolina Emergency Management Division, provides a wealth of hurricane-specific information, and includes tips on storm preparation, gathering supplies, evacuating, tips on making an emergency pet plan, closures and more. Be sure to download the superb app to help you build your plan and stay abreast of the lasted news.
Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Storm Center
BCSO provides regular and important updates when tropical weather threatens our area. Additionally, in the event an evacuation becomes necessary the Sheriff’s Office will work directly with SC EMD to manage re-entry for residents. Their website has valuable, local information and links to official resources.
Hilton Head Island Hurricane Center
Providing information to Hilton Head Island residents about storm preparation, evacuations, returning home, links to additional resources and more.
Town of Bluffton Emergency Management – Hurricane Information
Providing information to residents in Bluffton about storm preparation, evacuations, returning home, links to additional resources and more.
This government-run website is the best place to get official updates on storm paths, anticipated ground conditions, timing and more.