Severe weather is forecasted to affect South Carolina this weekend, bringing heavy rain and gusty winds, with the potential for tornadoes, flooding, downed trees, and power outages. The American Red Cross is urging people to prepare their families now, before the weather moves in.
“We want everyone to be safe before, during, and after the severe weather,” said Louise Welch Williams, CEO for the Red Cross in South Carolina. “That’s why we are encouraging our friends and neighbors to take steps now, before the rain and winds begin, to minimize the impact on their families and homes.”
GET READY FOR STORMS NOW
With severe weather on the horizon, the Red Cross has three steps people can follow to get ready now - build a kit, make a plan and be informed.
An emergency kit should include a gallon of water per person, non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, medications and copies of important documents. Talk with members of your household and create an evacuation plan. Stay informed about changing weather conditions by tuning into your local media and having a battery powered radio.
The Be Red Cross Ready Safety Checklist is available to learn more about what to do if a storm or other disaster might affect your community.
POWER OUTAGES AND GENERTAOR SAFETY
Sudden power outages can be frustrating and troublesome, especially when they last a long time. There are steps you can take to minimize loss and keep all members of your household as comfortable as possible.
Staying Safe Indoors
· Keep your cell phone charged so that you can use it in case of an emergency.
· Use flashlights in the dark, not candles.
· Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.
· If you are using a generator be sure you understand the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to use generators safely.
Safe Generator Use
· Every year, people die in incidents related to portable generator use. If you are using a generator while your power is out, ensure that the generator is in an open area. Never use a portable generator indoors, such as inside a garage, carport, basement, crawlspace, or other enclosed or partially-enclosed area, even with ventilation. It is a good idea to install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home. If CO gas from the generator enters your home and poses a health risk, the alarm will sound to warn you. If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Test the batteries frequently and replace when needed.
Electrical Equipment During a Blackout
- Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
- Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
- Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.
- Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.
The Red Cross Power Outage Checklist and Safe Generator Use Checklist are available to learn more about what to do and how to stay safe during a power outage.
Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. Conditions that cause floods include heavy or steady rain for several hours or days that saturates the ground. Flash floods occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area.
· Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
· If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
· Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
· Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
· Because standard homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flooding, it’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S. For more flood safety tips and information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program Web site at www.FloodSmart.gov.
The Red Cross Flood Safety Checklist is available to learn more about how to prepare for and recover from a flood.
Tornadoes are violent by nature. They are capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. Although severe tornadoes are more common in the Plains States, in the past several years tornadoes have impacted South Carolina.
· Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
· Watch for tornado danger signs, which could include dark greenish clouds, a cloud of debris, large hail, funnel cloud, and a roaring noise
· Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes or other severe winds. Do not seek shelter in a hallway or bathroom of a mobile home. If you have access to a sturdy shelter or a vehicle, abandon your mobile home immediately.
· If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
· If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP
Another resource for download is the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of thunderstorms, flooding and other disasters, as well as locations of shelters. The app includes emergency first aid information and a Family Safe feature which allows people to instantly see if loved ones are okay. The free Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.