Emergency Preparedness 2: What to do before, during and after

Emergency Preparedness – What to do before

 Some disaster situations come slowly with lots of warning, while others descend upon us quickly with little or no forewarning. Because we can be caught unaware, it’s important to prepare before you find yourself in the middle of an emergency situation.

Things you can do now:

  • Develop a plan for evacuation.
  • Discuss the possibility of a disaster with your family.
  • Inventory personal valuables. Take photos or video of your home, valuables, vehicles, etc. These will be helpful when making a claim with your insurance company.
  • Check with your insurance agent to make certain that you have the right coverage.
  • Go to the SIPOA website: SIPOA.org/Resources/Visitor Passes/Profile. Here you can update your contact information, add your cell phone numbers, your emergency contacts, etc. which will help SIPOA Security figure out if you are safe following the emergency.
  • if you or a family member needs transportation to an emergency shelter during a mandatory evacuation, you need to advise the Town of Seabrook now.  Call 843-768-912.  The Town will arrange transportation to the nearest pick-up point from with the County will provide transportation to an emergency shelter.
  • Assemble a portable disaster kit, home disaster supplies, a car emergency kit and first aid kit.
  • Know water, electricity and gas shut-off points and how to shut them off.

Things to do when you know the emergency event is coming:

  • Pay attention to weather forecasts.
  • Make preparations to moor, anchor or store your boat.
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest setting.  Store plastic bottles of water and newspaper in vacant areas of the freezer since a full freezer keeps food longer.
  • Board up windows and glass doors if possible.  Tape those that are not boarded up.
  • Stuff towels against window sills to keep water out.
  • Wedge sliding glass doors shut with a bar or piece of wood.
  • Close the drapes, blinds and shutters to keep glass flying from broken windows.
  • Clean sinks and bathtubs with chlorine cleanser and run a washing machine load with chlorine bleach so that they may be used for water storage.  Fill them with water.
  • Keep at least half a tank of fuel in car.
  • Check car for road worthiness: oil level, tire pressures (including spare).
  • Replenish medications, prescriptions. Try to keep a 7 day supply on hand.
  • Cover furniture, valuables with plastic.
  • Bring inside, tie down or secure all outdoor furniture, grills, trashcans, and decorations.
  • Put small valuables up high on shelves.

For pets:

  • Research which hotels/motels will accommodate pets if you plan to stay in commercial accommodations.
  • Make preparations to board or safeguard pets. Choose and use an ID method for your pets (i.e., micro-chipping, ID collar, etc.)
  • Make sure your pet’s immunizations are up to date and keep proof in your disaster kit
  • Have a cage or carrier for each pet, leash & collar, bowls, medications, health records, microchip numbers, litter box/litter, clean up supplies.


Emergency Preparedness: What to do during

 If you evacuate:

  • Turn off the electricity at the main breaker of the fuse box, even if the power has already gone off on the island.
  • Turn off the gas at the gas tank.
  • Turn off the water to avoid flooding from broken pipes when water service is restored.
  • Cut off the water valve to the hot water heater
  • Unplug all appliances with motors including refrigerators, washers, dryers, videotape players, hair dryers, etc.
  • Load the car with your “disaster supply kit”, pillows, blankets, important papers, etc.
  • Leave a note on your front door stating that you’ve evacuated and where you’ve gone.
  • Lock all doors and windows.
  • LEAVE EARLY and arrive safely. If you are leaving early, call the SIPOA Security Gate to advise them of your plan to evacuate and how you may be contacted.
  • Do not walk or drive through flooded areas. Remember that it takes about 6 inches of water to sweep a person off his feet and 12 inches of water to wash a vehicle off the road.
  • Upon arrival let friends or family know where you are.
  • Before heading to a public shelter, first consider staying with family and friends or in a motel. If it is a mandatory evacuation and family or friends are not available, the American Red Cross will provide a safe place to stay. Cots and blankets will not be provided in the public shelter; food will be provided.

If you shelter in your home:

– When the electricity goes out, cut off your home’s electricity at the breaker box to avoid overloading the system when the electricity returns.

– Cut off the propane gas at the tank.

– Cut off the water if possible to avoid flooding from broken pipes when water service is restored.

– Cut off the water valve to the hot water heater.

– When the winds begin to pick up, go inside and lock all doors.

– Unplug all appliances with motors including refrigerators, washers, dryers, videotape players, hair dryers, etc.

– Stay inside a well-constructed building away from windows and doors, even if they are covered. Go to an interior first-floor room, closet, or under the stairs.

–       Stay tuned to your local television and radio stations for emergency information.  Periodically check the Town’s website for updated information regarding the status of Seabrook Island. Go to townofseabrookisland.org or call 1-888-314-3177 to get current status.  You should program this number into your cell phone.

–       Be alert. Tornadoes are often spawned during hurricanes.

–       If the ‘eye’ of the storm passes over, be aware that severe conditions will return with the winds from the other direction in a very short time.

–       If there is danger of flooding and contaminated drinking water, you might fill up your bathtub and/or clean trash cans. This water can be used to drink, clean dishes and flush toilets.

Emergency Preparedness: What to do after

-Wait until the area is declared safe by local authorities before returning. Monitor Am radio WXTC 1390 or FM97 or call the Town’s Emergency Communications Center on 843-768-9121.

– Roads may be closed for your protection. Don’t drive through flooded areas. Bridges may be weakened by flood waters. Power may still be out; food supplies may be low.

– Avoid contact with flood waters; it could be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage.

– Listen for news reports to learn whether our area’s water supply is safe to drink.

– Use caution in entering your garage/basement/home. Animals, especially snakes, may have sought shelter in some unexpected places. Use a stick to poke through debris.

– Check for downed power lines. Check gas and water lines. Report broken sewer or utility lines to emergency personnel.

– Do not turn on your gas. Call your gas company to get it turned back on.

– Do not enter your home if you smell gas, if flood water remains around your home, or if your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.

– Use a flashlight to check the interior of your home. Avoid using candles or other open flames indoors.

– Check appliances for damage.  Check refrigerated food for spoilage if power has been off during the storm.  If in doubt, destroy.

– Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwaters can contain sewage and chemicals.

– Immediately following the event, report life-threatening emergencies only.

– Take pictures of the damaged areas of your home and property. You will need them for insurance claims.

– Emergency situations can cause emotional and physical stress. Stay healthy. Rest often and eat well. Look after yourself and your family as you focus on cleanup and repair.

– Keep a manageable schedule. Make a list and do one job at a time. Contact the American Red Cross for information on emotional support available in our area.

– Contact your insurance agent to discuss making your claim.

– Listen to your radio for information on assistance that may be provided by the state or federal governments and other organizations.

– If you hire cleanup or repair contractors, be sure they are qualified to do the job. Be wary of persons who drive through the neighborhood offering help in cleaning up or repairing your home. Check references. Remember that contractors working on Seabrook Island are required to have a permit issued by the Town of Seabrook Island.

Submitted by Tidelines Editor


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