South Carolina emergency officials had a new message at the state’s annual Severe Weather and Flood Safety Week news conference while encouraging residents to prepare for weather disasters: take care of yourself.
“It all comes down to safety and doing the things that we can do to prevent incidents that can be avoided and that comes down to people taking personal responsibility for themselves and making necessary preparations for the upcoming storm season,” SC National Guard Maj. Gen. R. Van McCarty said.
Every year in March the SCEMD sends out a statewide message to be prepared for severe weather and weather-related disasters. This year the message goes straight to the individual.
“We need to ask everybody to be their own emergency manager,” SC Emergency Management Division director Kim Stenson said. “You’ve got to make your own plans. You have to be aware of the hazards that you might entail in your particular community and then know how you would react to those hazards.”
Both Stenson and McCarty stressed, if you wait until disaster strikes or emergency officials tell you to react, you are too late.
“Know where you’re going to go if you need to go somewhere,” Stenson said. “Know what to do before severe weather strikes so that when the alert is issued you’ll be ready and be able to act accordingly.”
McCarty said emergency officials have been using disasters as far back as Hurricane Hugo to learn how to improve responses to emergencies. Over those nearly three decades, he said they have learned that some people don’t bother to prepare a plan, heed evacuation warnings, or stay off the roads during a weather incident.
“Don’t be on the roads unless you absolutely have to,” he said. “It creates additional safety issues not only to you but it puts our first responders in a sometimes dangerous situation of having to respond to situations that could be avoided.”
In 2017, the National Weather Service says South Carolina had 45 tornadoes. The average is about 26 a year. A statewide tornado drill is Wednesday at 9 a.m. NOAA weather radios will go off in the test.