Planning for Hurricane Evacuation
Unlike other kinds of extreme weather, hurricanes rarely take us by surprise. Thanks to modern tracking technology and simulations, meteorologists and professional storm trackers can map hurricane strength and possible routes with a fair amount of accuracy. Because of this, home and business owners can plan ahead and prepare for severe weather and evacuation.
As of the time of writing, coastal South Carolina is preparing for evacuation for incoming Hurricane Matthew, predicted to be a category 2-3 storm by the time it reaches the lowcountry. South Carolina state offices have issued mandatory evacuation for parts of the lowcountry with Horry and Georgetown counties preparing for a possible evacuation within the next 24 hours.
In preparation, the media has reminded folks to use the hurricane preparation and evacuation checklists provided by scemd.org and ready.gov, resource sites developed by the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, FEMA and the Dept. of Homeland Security. Cooper Mechanical Services encourages all to take issued precautions seriously. Your first priority is the physical safety of you and your family.
Make Your Physical Safety a Priority
The ready.gov guides encourage you to first:
- Create a survival kit (food, water, first aid, fuel, flashlights, chargers)
- Learn evacuation routes and emergency contacts
- Gather vital documents (birth certificates, social security cards, etc)
- Make plans for evacuation
Prepare Your HVAC System Before You Leave
Once you’ve prepared for your physical safety, if time allows, there are steps you can take to better protect and safeguard your HVAC and electrical systems before you evacuate.
For your heating and air conditioning system, the following measures are recommended:
- Turn off your heat and air conditioning
- If you have a window unit, remove it and close the window fully
- Clear the area around your condensing unit (the part of the AC system outside your home) and fasten HVAC tie-down straps or consider covering it with a tarp and fastening it tightly around with a bungee cord
Shut Off Major Power and Water Sources Before Evacuation
In addition to your HVAC system, you should also take measures to safeguard your property by turning off power and water supplies which could be the source of further home damage if left on. Before you evacuate you should do the following:
- Turn off electrical power at the main breaker or fuse box
- Turn off water at the main valve
- Turn off propane tanks to individual appliances like grills or stoves
- Note: the American Red Cross recommends you should not shut off natural gas unless local officials advise you to do so
Cooper Is Here When You Return Home
When you do evacuate your home, be sure to follow the Know Your Zone routes and exercise common-sense caution. Should your home experience flooding or major water damage, it is important that you not enter or turn on power without a professional. When the storm passes and evacuations are lifted, Cooper Mechanical Services is here with certified HVAC and electrical professionals to help inspect, repair and maintain your home systems.