NEWS | Aug. 10, 2011

It’s not too late to prepare for hurricane season

By Steven Gottula Joint Base Charleston Office of Emergency Management

Even though we are almost halfway through hurricane season, we are entering the peak months, August through October, when hurricanes threaten South Carolina. If you haven't already done so, it is still not too late to prepare yourself and your family for a hurricane.

The good thing about hurricanes is that they move slowly and provide a few days notice before they arrive. During this time, residents who are prepared are completing the final steps of their family emergency plan. The unprepared are fighting the crowds at the local grocery stores in a panic, unsure of what to do and what to buy.

The prepared are getting their emergency supply kits out of the closet and placing it by the door or in the car while the unprepared are still waiting in a line at the checkout counter.

The prepared are updating their out of town family on the current situation while the unprepared are wondering what to do next.

The prepared are giving their evacuation route(s) a final review while the unprepared are unsure of where they will go.

There is a big difference between being prepared and unprepared. Do you really want to spend precious time at the store hoping to get batteries, a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter? Every family should have a plan and an emergency supply kit.

Don't forget to take into consideration family members with special needs. Not every hotel or shelter is able to accommodate them and plans might have to be altered to provide the care they require. Even the dog and cat should be included in the plan. Very few shelters accept pets and it is illegal to leave them in case of an evacuation.

If you are deployed, does your spouse and children know what to do? Children need to be involved with the entire evacuation process. Knowledge is power, even for the youngest family members. Keeping them involved will help them cope with the storm's aftermath. Conducting small one-hour drills at least three times during the hurricane season teaches each family member their role and how to be ready. Be creative and combine this with other family activities to make it more entertaining.

For more information on how to build an emergency hurricane kit, make a family plan, care for special needs family members, pet information, evacuation routes and shelter locations, visit the following websites or contact your unit Emergency Management representative or the Installation Office of Emergency Management at 963-5333 or 764-4333.

Evacuation Routes: http://www.scdot.org/getting/cams/index.asp?95=Y

Charleston County: http://www.charlestoncounty.org/departments/EPD/emergency/index.htm

Special Needs: http://www.ready.gov/america/getakit/disabled.html

Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.d8aaecf214c576bf971e4cfe43181aa0/?vgnextoid=72c51a53f1c37110VgnVCM1000003481a10aRCRD&vgnextfmt=default

Everything you wanted to know about being prepared but didn't know where to go: www.ready.gov

Prepare for hurricanes today and give your family and yourself the peace of mind knowing that when disaster strikes, you will be able to weather the storm. Get a kit, make a plan and stay informed.