It’s July, and to use a baseball metaphor, we’re about to face the meat of the order of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season.
Despite an early visit by Tropical Storm Bonnie on Memorial Day weekend (a few days ahead of the official June 1 start of storm season), the experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict a “near-normal” level of storm activity in the Atlantic this year. Before the season ends Nov. 1, the meteorologists expect to see 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), four to eight hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher) and up to four major hurricanes (Category 3 and above, with winds of 111 mph or higher).
Because the possibility of devastating storms exists every year no matter the odds, the men and women who respond to natural disasters—including electric cooperative line crews—always prepare for the worst. They do this because not only do linemen in our state respond to storms here; it has long been the practice to lend crews to other affected states. This principle of mutual support is at the heart of the co-op mission.
Just as our crews hope for the best but prepare for the worst, so, too, should our families here in South Carolina. Use this emergency checklist to make sure you can handle anything nature throws our way.
Before the storm:
- Put together an emergency plan to ensure you can communicate with all members of your family. Ensure everyone has everyone else’s cell numbers and a texting protocol for when everyone should stop what they’re doing and return home immediately.
- Make sure you have up-to-date numbers for all relatives, friends and neighbors. Being able to contact neighbors will be especially useful.
- Have a storm kit at the ready. At minimum, it should include enough food and drinking water (American Red Cross recommends a gallon a day per person) for three days. You’ll also need working flashlights, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, a first-aid kit, any medications you take, emergency cash, spare clothes and blankets.
- Make sure all flashlights are charged or have new batteries, with backup batteries on hand. Don’t forget the manual can opener.
- Learn your community hurricane-evacuation routes.
- Know the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone. This will help you prepare for the storm surge and any tidal flooding.
During the storm:
- Listen to the radio or TV for information.
- Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, keep the refrigerator thermostat on the coldest setting and keep the doors closed.
After the storm:
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines, and report them immediately to your local electric cooperative. Always assume a downed power line is carrying a lethal charge of electricity, and stay well away.
- Drive only if necessary, and avoid flooded roads. Watch out for fallen objects, downed power lines and weakened bridges.
- Never use a generator inside your home or garage where deadly levels of carbon monoxide can build up quickly. Do not connect a generator to your home’s wiring, or you may create dangerous conditions for the crews working to restore power.
Like the outcome of a baseball game, the arrival of hurricanes is unpredictable. Good managers prepare for every contingency to win the game. As the “manager” of your family’s safety and comfort, you can take pride in the fact that your electric cooperative has a talented roster of teammates who go to bat for you 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
Red Cross hurricane checklist – Download this PDF from the American Red Cross to make sure your storm kit and disaster plan are complete.
Preparing for the worst – Natural disasters can strike without warning, but with a little planning, you can be ready for anything.
Common disasters – Disasters often strike with little or no warning. These tips will help you prepare for and survive the most likely emergencies in our state.