As we near the end of hurricane season (Nov. 30), everyone breathes a sigh of relief, but there are other hazards in our area of which we should be aware.
Earthquakes. When was the last earthquake in South Carolina? Believe it or not, there was one in August., a 2.0 magnitude tremor. Did you know there have been 15 earthquakes in the state in the past year (according to earthquaketrack.com).
According to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, about 70% of earthquakes in the state occur in the Coastal Plain.
Typically, earthquakes strike without warning, so think about preparing your home.
• Fasten shelves and appliances (such as TVs) securely to walls. Place large, heavy objects on lower shelves.
• Repair defective electrical wiring or leaky gas fixtures, as these present major post-earthquake fire risks.
• During an earthquake drop down onto your hands and knees, cover yourself and hold on to something sturdy like a desk or table. • Be prepared to move with your shelter if the shaking shifts it around.
• Do not try to get out of a building during an earthquake. Find out more at www.DropCoverHold.org.
Tornadoes appear with little or no warning and can cause devastating damage in a matter of minutes.
Consider these actions:
• Determine in advance where you will take refuge in the event of a tornado
• Go to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor of a building
• Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls
• Do not stay inside a trailer or mobile home. If possible, move to a building with a strong foundation
• If you are outside and there is no safe shelter nearby, go to your vehicle and drive to the closest sturdy shelter or find an area lower than the roadway and lie in it covering your head with your hands
• Do not get under an overpass or bridge
Floods. As we know from recent years, floods can affect large portions of our state.
• Remember to avoid contact with floodwaters. Never walk or drive on flooded roads. Assume that all floodwater is contaminated, and decontaminate anything that becomes wet.
Wildfires. The space between a house and an oncoming wildfire provides defensible space and should be maintained with shorter plants, more moisture, and kept debris-free. Keep woodpiles, grills, tarp coverings, etc. out of your defensible space. Use plants that are not oily or waxy such as tulips, red oak, periwinkle, vinca, crape myrtle, azaleas and Boston ivy. Keep roofs and gutters clean, consider installing protective shutters and have a garden hose long enough to reach any area of the home.
Cinda Seamon is the fire and life safety educator for the Town of Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue.