Dangers remain even after the skies turn blue. This is NOT the time to put your guard down. Nearly half of hurricane fatalities occur after the storm.
If you evacuated, only return home only when told to do so
Return home ONLY when officials say it is safe. Check with local officials both where you’re staying and back home before you travel.
Remain vigilant, as hazards remain
- Be careful near damaged buildings. Walk carefully around the outside of your home to check for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage, including dangerous debris such as nails or glass. Leave your home if there’s shifting or unusual noises. If you smell gas, get outdoors immediately and call 911.
- Avoid electric shock by staying far away from downed power lines. Stay alert: they may be on the ground, hidden in water, or dangling overhead.
- Flooded roads are very dangerous. It can be difficult to judge how deep or swift the water is moving — just 12 inches of water can float a car. Never drive through flooded roads, even if you are seeking supplies or trying to check on someone. Floods can also compromise bridges and roads. Avoid flooded river areas, as they can continue to rise long after a storm passes.
Don’t walk in floodwaters, either — they can contain harmful bacteria, chemicals, sharp objects, and dangerous animals.
Clean up safely: don’t push yourself, and check on neighbors
Stay hydrated, wear light, loose-fitting clothing, and clean up during cooler hours if possible. Don’t push yourself: straining the body can lead to heart attacks, heat strokes, and other serious issues. Perform cleanups slowly, taking lots of breaks. Make sure to check on your elderly neighbors and other vulnerable people in your community. If your area is under a Heat Advisory, use extreme caution and consider cleaning up when the heat has subsided.
Practice portable generator safety
Be very careful with portable generators: carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death in areas dealing with power outages. Never use a generator inside your home or garage, even if doors and windows are open. Only use generators outside, more than 20 feet away from your home, doors, and windows.
Help and communications may not be readily available
After a hurricane, emergency responders may be overwhelmed. Be aware that it could take hours or days for them to reach your area. Communication systems may be impacted, and making phone or video calls might be difficult due to network congestion. If possible, communicate via text, email, or social media.
Even when hurricanes stay out at sea, the North Carolina coast can still be impacted by large swells and deadly rip currents, thus making it important to stay aware of the tropics and weather forecasts all throughout the hurricane season. Rip currents are channelized currents of water flowing away from shore at surf beaches. Rip currents are quite common and can be found on many surf beaches every day. They typically form at breaks in sandbars, and also near structures such as jetties and piers. While the risk of rip currents occurring along the North Carolina beaches increases when a tropical cyclone is out in the Atlantic, the risk increases even more so when a tropical cyclone is moving toward the North Carolina coast, especially when the storm is a day or two away from making landfall along the Carolina coast.
Rip currents are dangerous because they can pull people away from shore. Rip current speeds can vary from moment to moment and can quickly increase to become dangerous to anyone entering the surf. Rip currents can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. Some clues that a rip current may be present include a channel of churning, choppy water, a difference in water color, a break in the incoming wave pattern, and a line of foam, seaweed or debris moving seaward.
If you find yourself caught in a rip current, stay calm and don’t fight the current. Escape the current by swimming in a direction following the shoreline. When free of the current, swim at an angle—away from the current—toward shore. If you are unable to escape by swimming, float or tread water. When the current weakens, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore. If at any time you feel you will be unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself: face the shore, call or wave for help. Also, don’t become a victim while trying to help someone else! Many people have died in efforts to rescue rip current victims. Instead, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not present, yell instructions on how to escape. If possible, throw the rip current victim something that floats. Call 9-1-1 for further assistance.