COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina is no stranger to severe weather – and with spring on the way, state emergency officials want you to be prepared for whatever may come our way.
Governor Henry McMaster has proclaimed Severe Weather and Flood Safety Week will take place between March 8th and 14th.
South Carolina Emergency Management and the National Weather Service are sponsoring the week to help remind citizens that severe storms, tornadoes and flash floods are significant hazards in South Carolina and encourage you to take proper safety precautions.
Officials say you should develop an emergency action plan for your home and business that includes what to do in case of a major emergency or disaster. You should also develop a community plan that allows you to reach out to family members when normal lines of communication are not functioning.
It’s also recommended to have an emergency kit for your home, place of work and even your vehicle.
A statewide tornado drill is scheduled for Wednesday at 9:00 a.m.
Schools, state and local emergency management, businesses and others will participate in the annual drill. SCEMD says the purpose of the drill is to test communication systems, safety procedures, and mitigation processes.
Severe Weather Safety from SCEMD:
Before a Tornado
• Be alert to changing weather conditions.
• Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information.
• Look for approaching storms.
• Look for the following danger signs:
• Dark, often greenish sky
• Large hail
• A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
• Loud roar, similar to a train
• If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.
During a Tornado
• If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately.
• Get indoors to a pre-designated shelter area such as a basement, storm cellar or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls.
• If in a vehicle, trailer or mobile home, get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or storm shelter.
• If unable to get indoors, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of potential flooding and flying debris.
• Never try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
After a Tornado
• Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
• Avoid downed power lines and report them to your utility company.
• Stay out of damaged buildings.
Before a Flood
• Avoid building in a flood prone area unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
• Elevate the furnace, water heater and electric panel if susceptible to flooding.
• Install check valves in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.
• Contact community officials to find out if they are planning to construct barriers (levees, berms or floodwalls) to stop floodwater from entering the homes in your area.
• Seal the walls in your basement with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.
• Consider purchasing sandbags in advance because they will be in high demand during a flood emergency. Review your insurance policy. Flood coverage is not part of most homeowner, mobile home or renter’s insurance policies. There is a 30-day waiting period for coverage to take effect.
During a Flood
• Be aware of potential flash flooding. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move to higher ground. Do not wait to be told to move.
• If time allows, prepare your home for a flood by moving essential items to an upper floor, bring in outdoor furniture, disconnect electrical appliances and be prepared to turn off the gas, electricity and water.
• Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
• Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle could be quickly swept away.
After a Flood
• After a flood, listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.
• Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
• Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Even if the roadway of a bridge or elevated highway looks normal, the support structures below may be damaged.
• Stay clear of downed power lines and report them to your power company.
• Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly to foundations. Stay out of any building that is surrounded by floodwaters.
• Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and other harmful chemicals.