Whether you’re relocating permanently or looking for a second home in Bluffton SC, there’s one thing you need to prepare for: hurricanes.
Don’t panic. Living along the coast doesn’t mean you’re hit with a barrage of tropical storms and hurricane evacuations every year.
The truth is: our little corner of the Lowcountry has been spared serious hurricane damage over the years. The last named hurricane to make landfall and to cause damage was Hurricane Matthew in 2016. And it was the first hurricane to make landfall since 2004.
Hurricanes can be scary, especially for those who have never lived near the coast before. However, locals consider hurricanes an inconvenience — often calling hurricane evacuations “an evacuation vacation.” Similar to people living in “tornado alley” or even heavy blizzard conditions further north, locals have adapted to the extreme coastal weather by having their hurricane plan down to a science.
Here’s how locals prepare for hurricane season in Bluffton SC every year.
Track storm weather on South Carolina websites
Many Hilton Head and Bluffton watch hurricanes as closely as they watch their March Madness college basketball brackets. Their go-to resource is The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association NOAA, which tracks storms and gives minute-to-minute reports about what is happening. If there is a hurricane or tropical storm headed your way when you are living in South Carolina, this is the website to watch. NOAA also has a broadcast station that can keep you up to date on storms that change in strength or direction, too.
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division’s website also is a good place to learn more about your hurricane zone — how your area will be affected by a hurricane. This website’s also a great place to find closings and delays. There also are a lot of helpful tips on preparedness, warnings and evacuation sites, too. It’s worth a read as you ready yourself in your move to South Carolina.
From trusted storm-watching websites like these, locals will know far in advance when to evacuate for a hurricane.
Create a Hurricane Evacuation Kit
Talk to any resident on the South Carolina coast about a hurricane evacuation kit, and you might be surprised to hear what people pack! There are some standards, of course. However, every family has unique needs.
Here are the recommended items that should be in everyone’s kit:
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- At least two gallons of pure water for every person in your household. More is better, but you might need to store extra jugs of water in a separate box
- Easy-to-pack food such as canned soup, tuna, beans and vegetables; cereal, toaster pastries, crackers and bread, etc.
- First aid kit containing several types of self-adhesive bandages, pain reliever, gauze, antibacterial ointment, pain cream, anti-itch ointment, etc.
- At least two changes of clothes for everyone in your family
- A radio that is either battery-powered with extra batteries or hand-crank
- Extra phone chargers and portable phone chargers as well
- Medications for at least a week, although these might have to be last-minute if your insurance provider refuses to give extra meds for the purpose of supplying your emergency kit
- Sleeping bags, blankets and pillows for everyone
- Waterproof matches
- Important family documents similar to what you’d carry if you were traveling
- Speaking of important documents, have your health insurance and home insurance paperwork at the ready
- Books, games, electronic devices to occupy the kids
- Baby formula and baby food for infants/toddlers
- Pet supplies if you plan on taking your pet during the evacuation
- Cloth face coverings/masks and hand sanitizer
- Multi-purpose fire extinguisher
Evaluate what you know to be true already about your family, and supply your emergency evacuation kits with those items. From time to time, you will need to update the kits, as is the case with clothing and food that may have expired if you didn’t consume it before the expiration date, etc. Then, store it all in sealed tubs or portable containers with lids in a cool, dry place. If you ever have to evacuate your Bluffton SC home because of a hurricane, you can grab these totes/containers, throw them in the family vehicle, and drive.
Prepare your house for hurricane weather
If you are actively paying attention to what the news and local authorities have to say, then you will have more than enough time to prepare your home before evacuation.
Some homeowners board up the windows of their houses to prevent damage from flying debris. However, today’s homes are very stable. The storm doors, windows, and exterior entrance/exit doors are constructed to withstand powerful blows Mother Nature can whip up. Secure your lawn furniture, bicycles, flower pots and any other outdoor furniture in your garage.
Here are a few important steps to prepare your home for strong weather:
- Review your homeowner’s insurance policies: It’s a good idea to check in with your insurance company every year to find out what’s covered in the event you need to rebuild your home.
- Flood insurance is often separate from home insurance: Homeowner’s insurance often cover the damage from hurricane winds, but not the flooding that can occur following the storm
- Take photos of everything in your house: Many homeowners walk their mobile phone through their home and record a video of all of their belongings — top to bottom, inside closets, in every room and outside the home.
Be ready to evacuate
If the governor orders an evacuation, you can either pack up and leave or hunker down inside for the storm, which some people do when the hurricane is graded less than a Category 3 or a tropical storm. Some neighbors may ignore an evacuation warning. Most people leave and head further inland for their evacuation vacation, returning to clean up the mess after the storm has passed.
For many northern transplants, hurricane evacuations are a good excuse to visit family in Indiana, Ohio, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, etc. If you don’t want to visit family, some popular vacation spots that are a day’s drive away include the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina; the bright lights and big city of Atlanta; the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee or the music city of Nashville TN.
Remember: Have a hurricane preparation plan
If you have to evacuate, make your life as easy as possible by having a plan:
- Know where you’re going and where you will stay.
- Keep your car’s gas tank full and get it ready for an evacuation.
- Have your emergency phone numbers, homeowner insurance’s policy, flood insurance documents, health insurance, medications, evacuation kit, first-aid kit, etc.
- Don’t forget about your four-legged family members.
- Make sure your hotel or Northern family is fine having your pets with you.