September 11, 2018

When a Hurricane Hits the Mountains – Hurricane Safety and Preparedness Tips

By Samantha Kappalman

Hurricane Florence is expected to affect the western North Carolina area into the weekend, bringing heavy rain, strong winds and more. Be prepared! Go to NCReady.org and download the NC Ready app to sign up for North Carolina Emergency Management alerts and get preparedness tips.
Though we don’t have to evacuate here in the mountains, we will most likely feel the impact from the hurricane that hits the coast.

Be Prepared for Flooding

  • Turn on your TV and radio. Make sure you have one battery-powered radio – you will receive the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • Know where to go. You may need to reach higher ground quickly and on foot.
  • Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include a flashlight, extra batteries, cash and first aid supplies.
  • Bring in outdoor furniture and move important indoor items to the highest possible floor. This will help protect them from flood damage and from becoming projectiles if we have high winds.
  • Disconnect electrical appliances and do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water – you could be electrocuted.
  • If instructed, turn off your gas and electricity at the main switch or valve. This helps prevent fires and explosions. (Do not turn the gas back on yourself. Call your gas company.)
  • Are you on well water? Read safety tips for your well.

Basic Safety Tips for Flooding

Turn Around, Don’t Drown! ®

  • Avoid walking or driving through high waters. Just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • Do not drive over bridges that are over fast-moving floodwaters. Floodwaters can scour foundation material from around the footings and make the bridge unstable.
  • If there is a chance of flash flooding, move immediately to higher ground.
  • If floodwaters rise around your car but the water is not moving, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car or enter moving water.
  • Avoid camping or parking along streams, rivers and creeks during heavy rainfall. These areas can flood quickly and with little warning.
  • Avoid standing water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Photograph damage to your property for insurance purposes.

Preparing Your Home for Hurricane-Strength Winds

  • Make sure you have an Emergency Plan and Kit before the storm strikes.
  • Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall – before hurricane season, trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe.
  • Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.
  • Reduce property damage by retrofitting to secure and reinforce the roof, windows and doors, including the garage doors.
  • Purchase a portable generator or install a generator for use during power outages. Remember to keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture; and NEVER try to power house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet.
  • Consider building a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter designed for protection from high winds and in locations above flooding levels.
  • Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting and open only when necessary. If you lose power, food will last longer. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to be able to check the food temperature when the power is restored.
  • Buy canned food and bottled water in advance.
  • Secure outside furniture or bring inside if possible.
  • Keep your cellphone fully charged so you have a full battery in case you lose power.
  • Fill up! Be sure your car and your generator have fuel.
  • Have food and water for your pets, too!

Seeking Medical Care during the Storm

Mission Health’s six emergency departments will remain open 24/7 to continue caring for patients with life-threatening conditions during the storm. Our inclement weather plans are designed to provide the safest, highest quality care environment for our patients and team members before, during and after the storm.

If you have an appointment with a Mission Health doctor or clinic, our practices may close in the interest of patient safety. Should your appointment be rescheduled, your doctor’s office will contact you. Practice closings and delays will be posted regularly on missionhealth.org.

In the event of a non-life-threatening emergency, we offer the convenience of online and walk-in care:

  • Complete a visit online for $25 – with Mission Virtual Clinic, you can receive a diagnosis and treatment plan for common illnesses such as colds, urinary tract infections or pink eye from the convenience of anywhere with an internet connection. In the event of a loss of power, you can complete the online visit from your mobile device. Learn more about Mission My Care Now.
  • Seek walk-in careMission My Care Now offers the convenience of walk-in primary care with extended and weekend hours. Treating non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries, there are four locations across western North Carolina. Check local road conditions before venturing out. Learn more about Mission Virtual Clinic.

Follow Mission Health on Facebook and Twitter at @MissionHealthNC for the latest updates on Hurricane Florence and its impact in western North Carolina.
Stay informed at ncready.org and find storm-related and emergency resources at ncdps.gov/florence.