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Preparing for Evacuation

It's critical that you begin preparing for an evacuation as soon as you're aware that a large storm may be coming in your direction. If you wait for an evacuation order to be issued before beginning your preparation, it may be too late. You should put together an evacuation plan, make an Emergency Supply Kit and prepare your home for the storm.

During an evacuation or other declared emergency, the SC Department of Transportation (SC DOT) will operate a toll-free number for traffic and road conditions. Call 1-888-877-9151.

Evacuation route maps and updates can be found by visiting:

Most emergency shelters do not accept pets, so your evacuation plan needs to include your family pets. For more information on dealing with handling pets during an emergency, visit Making Plans for Family Pets.

Who Should Evacuate?

People living in low lying areas of South Carolina's coastal counties, as well as anyone living in a mobile home in any of the coastal counties, are required to evacuate for all hurricanes, regardless of the category. Other areas will be required to evacuate when category 4 or 5 storms threaten their areas. The Governor's Office will make the decision on which areas should evacuate when a hurricane threatens the coast. To help you make your hurricane plan, please refer to the hurricane evacuation zone maps found in the 2012 SC Hurricane Guide.

Before You Evacuate:

  • Make a family communication plan using the instructions found at Ready.gov.
  • Make sure there is gas in the car so that you can be ready to evacuate immediately.
  • Make sure your automobile's emergency kit is fully stocked and ready.
  • Tune in the radio or television for weather updates and evacuation updates.
  • Take action when you think severe weather may be moving into your area, even if no official warning is given.
  • Determine your evacuation destination and write out route.
  • Store home and lawn care chemicals above areas that could be flooded.
  • Shut off the water to the house.
  • Let people know when you are leaving and where you are going. If possible, leave contact information.
  • Lock the windows and doors.
  • Close blinds and drapes.
  • Put plastic bags over TVs, stereos, lamps, computers, etc.
  • Fill the sinks and bathtubs with water to use for bathing, washing clothes, flushing, when you return.
  • Pack some clothes in plastic bags and store on high shelves
  • Adjust the refrigerator and freezer to the coolest possible setting.
  • Follow the instructions provided by local utility companies or emergency preparedness officials regarding the turning off of electric and gas utilities.
  • Find a secure place for boats or second cars. Place under cover if possible.
  • Trim trees and shrubs of weak limbs.
  • Cover windows and doors with shutters or plywood if possible. If that is not possible, place large strips of masking tape across the windows to reduce the possibility of flying glass.
  • Bring inside or otherwise secure items outdoors such as lawn furniture, bird feeders, bicycles, grills, propane tanks and planters.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly to make sure they do not need assistance in evacuating.
  • Put your survival supplies in the car. If officials order an evacuation, leave as soon as possible, preferably during daylight.

Family in flood watersOnce You are Ordered to Evacuate:

Because of the destructive power of a hurricane, you should never ignore an evacuation order. Once an evacuation is ordered, you should leave as soon as possible.

Authorities will be most likely to instruct you to leave if you are in a low-lying area, or within the greatest potential path of the storm. If your home is located in one of these areas, you should make plans to evacuate even before an order is given.

Once again, remember that most shelters and some hotels do not accept pets.

For your convenience, you will find “Comfort Stations” located at designated points along I-26 which will be supplied with portable toilets and bottled water. These stations are designed to expand the existing facilities at rest areas during a mandatory evacuation.

If a hurricane warning is issued for your area or you are directed by authorities to evacuate the area:

  • Take only essential items with you.
  • Follow the instructions provided by local utility companies or emergency preparedness officials regarding the turning off of electric and gas utilities.
  • Disconnect appliances to reduce the likelihood of electrical shock when power is restored.
  • Make sure your automobile's emergency kit is with you.
  • Follow the designated evacuation routes - others may be blocked - and expect heavy traffic.
  • Avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges. Traffic tends to move slowly as evacuation routes become crowded.
  • Know that evacuation will probably take longer than expected, so give yourself plenty of time. More importantly, be patient.

Special Precautions for Mobile Homes:

Mobile homes are especially vulnerable to hurricane-force winds. Anchor the mobile home with over-the-top or frame ties. When a hurricane threatens, do what you can to secure your home, and then take refuge with friends, relatives or at a public shelter.

Before you leave, take the following precautions:

  • Pack breakables in boxes and put them on the floor.
  • Remove mirrors and tape them. Wrap mirrors and lamps in blankets and place them in the bathtub or shower.
  • Install shutters or precut plywood on all windows.
  • Shut off propane tanks and leave them outside after anchoring them securely.
  • If time allows, make sure your mobile home is properly connected to anchors.
  • Store awnings, folding furniture, trashcans and other such loose outdoor objects.

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