FIRST ALERT: Preparing for a hurricane in the age of COVID-19

FIRST ALERT: Preparing for a hurricane in the age of COVID-19
This year, hurricane preparations need to be done with COVID-19 in mind. (Source: WMBF)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Hurricane season has officially begun and this year’s preparations must include ways to deal with a global pandemic.

To mark the start of the season and South Carolina Hurricane Preparedness Week, the South Carolina Division of Emergency Management has released guidelines on how to prepare for a potential hurricane while observing the proper protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, hurricane preparations need to be done with COVID-19 in mind.
This year, hurricane preparations need to be done with COVID-19 in mind. (Source: WMBF)

“It will be crucial for everyone to take COVID-19 into consideration when updating their personal emergency plans. Residents’ first priority should be to protect themselves from a potential hurricane if an evacuation is issued for their communities,” says Director Stenson. “That’s why this year, for Hurricane Season 2020, we want everyone to remember these four words: time, space, people, place while getting ready for any hurricane that may head toward South Carolina.”

Time: give yourself time to prepare for a hurricane. Have a plan before you go out to get supplies so you spend less time interacting with others who may be infected. Do not wait until the last minute.

Space: make safe and social distancing a part of every aspect of your hurricane planning. Whether it’s stocking up on hurricane supplies or deciding where you will go if you need to evacuate. Do everything you can to stay at least 6 feet away from people you do not live with.

People: make sure all the people in your family know what to do to stay healthy. Remember, the more people your family interacts with, the greater your chances of contracting and possibly transmitting COVID-19.

Place: know where you will go once the evacuation order is issued for your area. Staying in a hotel or with family or friends far inland are the best options to protect yourself from COVID-19 and the storm.


Include at a minimum:

  • Water, two gallons of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
  • Family emergency contact information
  • Cash or traveler's checks and change

Additional items to consider include:

  • Complete change of clothing including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and sturdy shoes.
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Multipurpose tool
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Duct tape
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children


  • Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles or plastic milk jugs. Avoid using containers that will break, such as glass bottles. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people will need more.
  • Store two gallons of water per person per day (one gallon for drinking, one gallon for food preparation/sanitation)
  • Keep at least a three-day supply of water for each person in your household.


  • Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, little preparation or cooking and little or no water. Select food items that are compact and lightweight.
  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables
  • Canned juices, milk, soup (if powdered, store extra water)
  • Staples--sugar, salt, pepper
  • High energy foods--peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix
  • Vitamins
  • Foods for infants, elderly persons or persons on special diets
  • Comfort/stress foods--cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, lollipops, instant coffee, tea bags

First Aid Kit

  • Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter to obtain a basic first aid manual. Each first aid kit should include:
  • 2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
  • 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
  • Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
  • Triangular bandages (3)
  • 2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Needle
  • Moistened towelettes
  • Antiseptic
  • Thermometer
  • Tongue blades (2)
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricants
  • Assorted sizes of safety pins
  • Cleansing agent/soap
  • Latex gloves (2 pairs)
  • Sunscreen


  • Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version of the Family Emergency Kit in the trunk of your car.
  • Keep items in air-tight plastic bags.
  • Change your stored water supply every six months so it stays fresh.
  • Rotate your stored food every six months.
  • Re-evaluate your kit and family needs at least once a year. Replace batteries, update clothes, etc.
  • Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications.

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