Officials in North and South Carolina are urging residents to prepare for Florence, which has strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 140 miles per hour.
Here are some steps you can take before and during the hurricane to keep you and your family safe, according to Ready.gov.
What to do now:
- You can monitor the status of hurricanes – their projected paths, strength and categories – by signing up for your community’s alert system here. The alerts look like text messages, but have a unique sound and vibration that are repeated twice.
- Identify safe shelters for high winds. The best protection is a small, windowless room on the building’s lowest level.
- Make an emergency plan. Route the trip to your safe shelter and practice it.
- Gather three days’ worth of emergency supplies, keeping in mind specific needs for individual members of your family. Here’s a sample list.
- Keep important documents in a safe place or create password-protected digital copies.
- Protect your property: Declutter drains and gutters, and consider hurricane shutters. Install check valves in plumbing to prevent backups. Also, review your insurance policy.
- Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power. Remember: During disasters, sending text messages is usually reliable and faster than making a phone call.
- Prepare your car: Keep the gas tank full and stock your vehicle with necessary emergency supplies.
What to do the day before the hurricane hits:
- Bring objects inside that could get carried away by high winds, like patio furniture and garbage cans. Anchor objects that are unsafe to bring inside, like propane tanks.
- Cover all of your home’s windows. You can use permanent storm shutters, or make-shift shutters made out of thick plywood.
- Charge your cellphone, so you will have full battery in case you lose power when the storm hits.
What to do right before the hurricane hits:
- Remain near your safety shelter, and let family and friends know where you are.
- Close your storm shutters or board up your windows. Stay away from your windows during the storm, if your safe shelter has them.
- Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting. This will help food last longer if you lose power. Only open it when necessary.
- Turn on your radio, television or computer to check hurricane updates.
What to do during the hurricane:
- If you are instructed to evacuate, do it immediately. Reminder: do not drive around barricades.
- Make sure you and your family are gathered in the safe shelter.
- If trapped in a building due to flooding, go to the highest level. Do not climb into a closed attic because you could become trapped by rising waters.
- Generators and gasoline-powered machinery should not be used indoors. Keep them away from windows.
- Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters. Avoid bridges.
What to do after the hurricane hits:
- Listen to emergency service alerts for information and instructions.
- Do not touch wet electrical equipment. If you are safely able to do so, turn off your electricity.
- Do not stand in floodwater.
- Save phone calls for emergencies. Continue to use text or social media to communicate with friends and family.
- Document property damage with photographs and contact your insurance company.