When you think of preparing for hurricanes it usually extends to those folks living within a few miles of the shore line. While the storm surge and harshest effects are usually focused on beaches and coastal areas, the damaging winds and flooding rains are known to stretch far inland. North Carolina has seen it’s fair share of tropical weather and not all of it has been limited to the beach areas. Hurricane Hugo in 1989 made landfall north of Charleston, NC as a category 4 storm and proceeded to take a path through Charlotte as a category 3. The damage on the western half of the state was extensive costing an estimated $1 billion. Though rare, hurricanes like Hugo can cause wreak havoc, and several more minimal storms have and will continue to make their way through the Queen city. It’s best to take some precautions so that a hurricane doesn’t take you off guard.
Usually places far inland like Charlotte are at greatest risk for power outages due to the strong winds that sweep the area, but occasionally stronger storms may require more severe preparations. The basic requirements should be food, water and essential supplies to survive in your home if the power to be out for several days, and should all be assembled together so you aren’t running around looking for your survival items in the heat of the moment. There should be a gallon of water per person in the house per day, and don’t forget the pets! A family of 4 would need 16 gallons of water reserved to last them through a four day power failure. Food should be limited to non-perishable foods that don’t require cooking, including any necessary baby formula and baby foods if you have infants or small children, and dry pet food for pets. Make sure you have a manual can opener for any canned foods. For babies be sure you have plenty of bottles and pacifiers.
For hygiene you should make a kit as though you were going on a camping trip. Soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste, feminine supplies and toilet paper should be placed in your kit. There should be a large supply of infant diapers and wipes, as well as any diaper creams, if necessary. Keep a large box of trash bags in your kit as trash service can become unavailable for a time. Any necessary medication should be included as well – some insurance companies will allow for an extra month’s supply of prescription drugs to stash in an emergency kit like this.
Standard supplies should include a first aid kit, a battery-operated radio and/or TV with extra batteries, a blanket or sleeping bag for every person, a flashlight with extra batteries and a fire extinguisher. It’s also a good idea to store some cash in your kit, as ATMs may be closed down until power is restored throughout the county.
If you are under a hurricane watch then you have about 36 hours to assemble you kit, if not already prepared, and secure the outside of your home. Bring in any item that can be picked up by a strong wind, like lawn chairs and tables, children’s toys, hanging and small potted plants, garbage cans and garden tools. Fill your car with gas and park as close to your house as possible if you don’t have a carport or garage to put it in. Trim loose and dead branches off of trees. If you have shutters, latch them. If you have a pool add extra chlorine to prevent contamination, rather then draining it.
Freeze jugs of water ahead of time to use as a cooling device in freezers and refrigerators in the event of a power failure. When the power goes out you should move items that you will be using to a cooler rather then opening your refrigerator. After the storm is over listen carefully to the news to find out when and if it’s safe to venture outside.
Most hurricanes do not make a major impact on the Charlotte area but as it was proved in 1989 by Hugo, this area is not immune to the dangers of tropical weather. A better safe then sorry approach to hurricane preparedness is always advised if there’s even the smallest chance you may encounter the dangers of a tropical storm or hurricane.