For the home buyers thinking of moving to the south. If you are thinking of moving to the Charleston or other coastal areas and have never been in a hurricane before, here is some sound advice.
- If you are evacuating or staying, fill your fuel tank early! Make sure it is full before getting on main roads. When main roads are opened for evacuation you may not be able to get off of them again to get fuel, and lines for gas may be long. Not often, but sometimes gas stations can run out as well and everybody tries to fill up. Do not delay on this. If power is lost finding fuel after the storm may be difficult as well
- Be stocked up on drinking water. Buy your bottled water before the storm and keep it on hand for when the storm comes. Water is one of the first things to sell out during a hurricane. Even if you are leaving take lots of water with you, you never know how long your trip will take. A filtered pitcher can be wise for times like this as well. Sometimes water can be tainted when flooding occurs.
- Be prepared for losing power if you stay. The winds will knock down power lines and sometimes depending on the severity the power companies will kill power to certain areas to prevent fire or other issues, especially on barrier islands. If you have a generator please make sure it is not in the house. Too many lose their lives to running gas powered equipment inside or trying to grill inside their homes. At times it can take days for power to come back on so use it sparingly and see rule number 1!
- Clean up projectiles in the yard. Lawn furniture, for sale signs, hanging plants, anything that can be picked up and thrown into your home needs to be secured. You can use boards to protect windows or heavy shutters. Some people will put an X across the window in tape to keep glass from being thrown throughout their home. Consider trimming dead branches from trees nearby and secure any screen doors on porches so they won’t flap in the wind.
- Buy food that needs little preparation. This goes for those evacuating as well. Get something you can eat on the road or prepare by candlelight without cooking. Once power is gone you want to keep that fridge and freezer closed, so having a stocked cooler just for storm needs is advisable.
- Take photos of your home and property before the storm. If there is damage the insurance company may want to know what was in the home. Write down, serial numbers for guns, televisions, or other high priced items. Consider taking your hard drive with you if your computer holds vital info.
- Listen to communication. We spent this last storm in Knoxville, TN. Facebook was a huge way to keep in touch with friends and families. It let us know what was going on outside of the news media who of course went to the worst scenes to report. You can check in that you are safe, and use your cell phone to do it. Verizon, our cell company, even gave us unlimited date during the storm so everyone of their customers could keep in touch regardless of their plan or budget. Also listen to news about when evacuations are to start and finish, and plan your routes accordingly. You don’t want to be stuck heading to Columbia when you want to go to Summerville because traffic is re-routed. Battery powered radios are an old concept, but still work to this day.
- Know your local shelters and if you have pets, know which ones are pet friendly. If you don’t want to or are unable to evacuate, educate yourself on where the public shelters are. They will be advertised on every local news outlet there is.
- Check with neighbors and know each others plans. It is good to have someone to check on your home and consider giving them a key. During Matthew we had a local friend who lost power. We would be gone for the next few days. It would make sense to have her stay in our home with air conditioning and hot showers until we got home, but we had no way of getting her a key. Leaving a key under a mat during a time break ins might happen is not smart. Our neighbor having a key could have really helped us all out.
- Protect yourself. If you leave the area take important things with you. Our fireproof safe with birth certificates, car titles, insurance documents and other such items went with us. Some people will try to take advantage of the evacuation so keep doors locked, fences to backyard gates locked, outside lights on, anything you can do to keep your home from being an easy target. Make sure safes are locked and secured and don’t leave valuables in plain sight. Watch out for your neighbors if you are staying, and if you leave let neighbors who are staying know you will be gone. Some people I know even throw the main breaker or shut off the water at the meter before leaving.
- Remember to keep your loved ones informed. People not near the affected area only hear the worst reports coming out. Don’t let them worry needlessly. Let them know you are safe as soon as the storm ends.
Use common sense and listen to the officials. Remember the closer to the water you are, the more risk you take. Nothing is in that home that can’t be replaced. To quote comedian Ron White “It isn’t that the wind is blowing, it’s what the wind is blowing.” Be smart and stay safe.