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1548 Third Street
Folkston,GA 31537
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Hurricane Guide

Hurricane season in Georgia runs June 1 through November 30, with the peak activity period beginning in mid-August and continuing through mid-October. It's not unusual to see storms developing early and late in the season.

It's been many years since Charlton County has experienced a direct impact from a hurricane, but that doesn't diminish the need to remain watchful and prepare for storms each year as the season approaches.

This guide will help you establish hurricane procedures for your family and business and help you weather the storms.

Be aware of approaching storms:

It's important to know the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning. A watch indicates hurricane conditions are possible, generally within 36 hours. A hurricane warning indicates hurricane conditions are anticipated, usually within 24 hours.

When a hurricane watch is issued, re-check your emergency supplies to make sure you have what you need; restock if necessary. If you have hurricane shutters, remove them from storage and make sure you have the hardware and tools necessary to install them. Stay tuned to local media and to advisories from the National Hurricane Center; they will advise you as to appropriate times to begin installation.

Prepare an evacuation plan in advance. Make arrangements to evacuate to the home of a friend or relative in a safer area, but if you can't, know the location of the nearest hurricane shelter. If you're advised to evacuate your home, leave immediately. And remember that leaving town may not be an option; it's generally best to evacuate within your county of residence. Roads may be too clogged for travel.

Stay tuned to local media or to NOAA weather radio for updates and instructions.

Hurricane Supplies

Begin gathering your hurricane supplies at the start of the season in June, especially drinking water (at least one gallon per person per day, and have at least a 3-day supply). Water is generally the first commodity to disappear from store shelves when a hurricane is approaching.

Use this checklist as a guide for your preparations:

1. Have plenty of canned food and a manual can opener; perishable food items will spoil quickly if electricity is lost and refrigerators are inoperable.
2. Have several battery-powered radios, flashlights and extra batteries. Small battery-powered televisions are useful too.
3. Check your first aid kit to make sure it's properly stocked and over-the-counter medications have not expired.
4. Inspect your hurricane shutters; replace any panels that are missing or damaged. If you use plywood to cover windows and doors, make certain it is still usable.
5. Remove damaged limbs from trees and prune branches so winds can blow through. Dispose of trimmings as soon as possible. Never leave trimmings where winds can turn them into projectiles.

Installing hurricane shutters:

Hurricane shutters are used to protect doors and windows from wind-borne objects and to prevent damage caused by sudden pressure changes when windows or doors fail. Shutters can be made of metal, wood or plastic and are available in different styles; the most common are steel or metal panels, accordion style and roll-down. Home improvement stores sell shutters and a number of companies in Charlton County custom-build and install shutters. Many municipal building codes now require hurricane shutters for all new home construction.

If you've never installed your shutters, do a "dry run" before the hurricane season begins; install them to make sure you're familiar with how they operate. You can identify problems with your shutters that might not be fixable as a storm is approaching. Make sure you have the appropriate tools and hardware necessary to complete the job.

If you're using plywood to cover windows and doors, select at least 5/8" stock. Pre-drill holes into the plywood sheets and into your masonry and use screws and anchors to secure the plywood; masonry nails are not recommended as they can fail in strong winds.

If you have metal panel shutters, handle them only with heavy work gloves. The panels are heavy and the edges can be sharp. When you use a ladder, make sure you work with a buddy who holds and stabilizes the ladder. The emergency room reports a number of injuries every hurricane season due to falls from ladders.

When a storm has passed and it's safe to venture outside, remove the shutters or plywood from at least one window or door in every room. A fully-shuttered house may be safe in a hurricane, but presents a fire hazard by blocking escape routes. Establish an emergency escape plan and make sure everyone in the house is aware of how they should exit in the event of fire.

As the storm approaches:

1. Install your hurricane shutters or plywood. Forget about using masking tape or duct tape on windows; it does not prevent windows from breaking and it can be difficult to remove after the storm.
2. Bring inside any lawn furniture, BBQ grills, trash cans, hanging plants, etc. that may be picked up by the wind. These objects become deadly missiles in a hurricane.
3. Fill you cars' gas tanks and withdraw enough money from your bank to last for several days. Gas pumps and ATM's will not work if electricity is out.
4. Make sure prescription medications are available for several weeks. And don't forget about the special needs of infants, the elderly, the disabled and pets.
5. Gather your important papers, including insurance policies, and place them in plastic bags or other waterproof material and keep them with you during the storm.
6. Wedge sliding glass doors to prevent them from being blown off tracks.
7. Check for loose rain gutters and down spouts.
8. Turn up refrigerators and freezers to maximum cold.
9. Disinfect a bathtub in your home and fill it with water to use for washing dishes and flushing toilets.
10. Evacuate if you are required to do so or if you do not wish to remain in your home during the storm.

Staying safe during the hurricane:

1. Stay away from windows and doors. Identify a "safe room" in your home where you can stay during the hurricane. Choose a room with no doors or windows, like a closet. Bring a mattress into the room and use it for additional protection against falling debris.
2. Expect to lose power. Make sure you have flashlights within reach in your safe room.
3. Never venture outside during the storm. Flying debris may cause serious injury or death.
4. Be aware of the hurricane's "eye" passing overhead. A brief period of calm will be followed by winds blowing in the opposite direction and damage may be greater.
5. Stay away from rising water. Fallen power lines may still be "hot" and electrocution can occur. Water may also contain raw sewage.

After the storm has safely passed:

1. Stay tuned to local media and/or NOAA radio.
2. Return to your home or venture outdoors only after local officials tell you it is safe to do so.
3. Inspect your home for damage. If your home is unsafe or badly damaged, locate other accommodations.
4. Beware of fallen power lines. While electricity may be out, service can be restored at any time and lines may become "hot."
5. If you have no power, use flashlights for illumination. Never use candles or lanterns because of the risk of fire. Cook outdoors using charcoal or propane grills/stoves. Never use these indoors. Do not cook over open fires, as they can spread, especially if debris is in the area.
6. Avoid driving as much as possible. If you must be on the roads, remember that many traffic signals may be inoperative. Treat all intersections as though they are a 4-way stop.

Water treatment safety:

If your water source becomes contaminated follow these tips to insure safe water usage.

1. Begin by filtering water with a coffee filter to remove any solid materials that may be floating in the water.
2. Bring the water to a rolling boil for one minute, then allow the water to cool for 30 minutes.
3. Add 16 drops of chlorine bleach per gallon of water, or 8 drops per 2-liter bottle. The only active ingredient in the bleach should be hypochlorite of a concentration of 5.25% to 6%. Make sure the bleach does not contain any perfumes or soaps. Some bleach manufacturers have added sodium hydroxide, which does not pose a health risk for the water treatment process.
4. Let water remain standing for thirty minutes.
5. Use the water only if it smells of chlorine. If it doesn't, add another round of drops (16 per gallon and 8 per 2-liter bottle). If you still don't smell chlorine, discard the water and find another source.

Generator safety tips:

When using a portable electric generator, remember these important safety precautions.

1. Never connect a portable electric generator directly to your home wiring. This could cause the generator to backfeed onto the powerlines connected to your home. A nearby utility transformer could increase this backfeed and cause damage directly to the transformer or to repair crews working on lines blocks away from your home.
2. Never plug a portable electric generator into a regular household outlet. Generators are not powerful enough to provide energy to an entire home. Connect only essential electrical equipment directly into the generator.
3. Do not overload the generator. Choose electrical equipment essential to remaining comfortable while the power company works to restore your power. When purchasing a portable generator, choose one that produces more power than will be drawn by the combination of lighting, appliances and equipment you plan to connect to it.
4. Use proper power cords to attach appliances to the generator. Use outdoor rated cords with a wire gage adequate for appliance overload
5. To prevent electric shock, make sure the generator is properly grounded.
6. Never use a portable electric generator indoors or in an attached garage. Generators use an internal combustion engine that emits deadly carbon monoxide. Run the generator in a well-ventilated, dry area away from intakes into the home and protected from rain; an ideal spot would be under a canopy or in an open shed.
7. Install carbon monoxide alarms inside your home as a protection against the gas emitted from generators.
8. Store generator fuel outside of living areas in a properly labeled, non-glass safety container. Vapor from gasoline can travel undetected and be ignited by pilot lighters or sparks.
9. Never refuel a generator while it is running; wait until it has cooled down. Guard against burns; generator engines are hot.
10. Before shutting a generator down, turn off all appliances that are connected to it.
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