Should I Stay in Charleston During A Hurricane?

Categories: Blog, Common Concerns
should i stay at home during a hurricane

UPDATED: Check here for the latest local updates on Hurricane Florence.

In the midst of Hurricane Season for the Lowcountry, staying safe is the number one priority. It is critical to stay informed, especially if you or your loved ones make the decision to remain in your home during a dangerous weather event or in the face of an evacuation order. The most up-to-date storm tracker from the National Hurricane Center can be found here

Deciding whether to stay in your home or leave town during a high category weather event depends on many factors – including the strength of the storm looming, the amount of time you have to prepare, and official evacuation orders for your immediate location. Many who cannot afford to leave their homes or do not have transportation – or even those with pets – may often decide to stay home; in this event, please identify a local safe shelter for last minute evacuations. If you live with those who may be more vulnerable to injury during a storm such as small children, the infirm or elderly, it is critical to put their safety first and evacuate as necessary. Developing an emergency plan in advance of a storm will be helpful for making a last minute decision if needed. Identify possible friends or relatives you can stay with, search for hotels or Air B&B’s out of the storm’s path, and have a go-bag ready with your important belongings. Whether or not you actually end up evacuating, have a reservation in place with a 24 hour cancelation policy to avoid charges.

If you cannot leave your home during a hurricane, or choose not to evacuate, take the time to prepare for the worst possible scenario:

The American Red Cross advises the following should a hurricane make landfall in Charleston: A gallon of water per person for each day, nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, infant supplies, a multipurpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cellphone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information. In the days leading up to a major weather event, water can be scarce in most gas stations and grocery stores across the Lowcountry. If you are unable to purchase water, be sure to fill up containers of water in your home in advance of possible power outages. Keeping your sinks and bathtubs filled with water is also advisable heading into a storm. 

Here is an extended Emergency Checklist for those who choose to remain in their coastal homes during a strong category 2-5 storm event:

Basic Prep Checklist:

  • Batteries
  • Butane lighters & waterproof matches (in plastic bags)
  • Plastic grocery and garbage bags
  • Fill up your car
  • Bottled water (3 gal per person/ per day) Don’t forget water for animals, too
  • Non-perishable foods
  • High-energy packaged foods (peanut butter, crackers, nuts, raisins & dried fruits, snacks, cookies, etc.)
  • Shelf-packaged juices (cans or cartons)
  • Canned, prepared meats
  • Canned, prepared foods
  • Pet food (Note: Most shelters do not allow pets)
  • Toilet paper & moist towelettes
  • Sponges & paper towels
  • Soap, shampoo, other misc.
  • Toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant)
  • Baby Diapers and wet wipes
  • At least one change of clothing for each person
  • Rain gear (ponchos, umbrellas, boots, etc.)
  • Fill tubs and sinks with water
  • Hand operated can opener
IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS:
  • Driver’s license (for each person or photo ID)
  • Home video tape or photos for insurance
  • Extra set of car keys
  • List of important family information (i.e., serial numbers of medical devices such as pacemakers,etc.)

While leaving your home may sound like an inconvenience – particularly when the path of this tremendous storm is still uncertain at this stage – it is in your best interest to listen to local officials as they urge the coastal areas to evacuate.

New to Charleston or hurricanes? Some local hurricane advice from experience might help.

Find more resources here: 

Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic provides medical care to eligible patients, just like any family practitioner or internist – but it is free. We serve uninsured adults living at or below 200 % of the Federal poverty level who live or work on Johns, Wadmalaw or James Islands. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.