A Student’s Guide to Hurricane Preparedness

A Student’s Guide to Hurricane Preparedness

College of Charleston officials continue to closely monitor the track of Hurricane Florence. If voluntary or mandatory evacuations are ordered and the suspension of classes becomes necessary, the entire campus community will be given detailed instructions regarding evacuation procedures and schedules.

In the meantime, students should familiarize themselves with the basics of hurricane preparedness as well as the steps the College may take in the event that a hurricane is predicted to impact our region.

In its history, the College has weathered many hurricanes and tropical storms. Each of these experiences has helped to inform the school’s emergency planning.

Here are a few tips to help students be prepared as the Atlantic hurricane season enters what is typically its most active period.

Hurricane 101:

Let’s start off with the basics. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone in which the constant wind speed reaches at least 74 miles per hour.

There are five categories of storms:

Category 1:  Winds of 74-95 mph

Category 2:  Winds of 96-119 mph

Category 3:  Winds of 111-129 mph

Category 4:  Winds of 130-156 mph

Category 5:  Winds of 157 and higher

The Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1 and will end on Nov. 30.

A hurricane watch means there is a possibility a hurricane could hit our region within 48 hours.

A hurricane warning means the storm is expected to strike within 36 hours.

What the College will do:

When a hurricane or tropical storm threatens the Charleston area, the College of Charleston will send out a Cougar Alert to provide faculty, staff, students and parents with up-to-date information and instructions regarding campus preparations, announcements about class schedules and campus events, closing and reopening of offices, and other relevant details. The College will also post all updates on its emergency website, emergency.cofc.edu.

What students should do to prepare:

  1. Make sure that your Cougar Alert contact information is up to date. The steps for updating your contact information (via MyCharleston) can be found on the College’s emergency webpage.
  2. Develop an emergency communication plan. Have an out-of-state relative or friend serve as a family contact. After a disaster, it maybe easier to make long-distance calls than local calls.
  3. Having a hurricane preparation kit is a good idea. Pull together useful items such as non-perishable food and snacks, juices, soft drinks, bottled water, manual can opener, change of clothing, sturdy shoes, portable radio, first-aid kit, batteries, flashlight, eating utensils and containers for holding water. Refill prescription medicines. When you evacuate, you will want to take these supplies with you, along with a blanket and pillow or sleeping bag.
  4. Prepare your room or apartment. Pick up all items from the floors and store in drawers and closets. Move upholstered furniture away from windows. Close and lock your windows. Bring inside any items you may have on balconies or other open areas. Turn refrigerator and freezer temperature gauges to the lowest number. Open only when absolutely necessary and close quickly. Unplug stereos, TVs, electronic equipment and lamps.
  5. Don’t forget about computers and electronics. Back up computer data and take a copy with you. Cover your computer and other electronic equipment with plastic sheeting or large plastic garbage bags.
  6. Protect important documents. Place your documents in waterproof containers and take them with you.
  7. Gas up your vehicle. Check all fluids and tire pressures (including your spare tire).
  8. Have cash on hand. ATMs will not operate should the area experience a power failure.
  9. Monitor local news media for weather updates.

What happens if a storm comes this way?

If a major hurricane threatens the region and the South Carolina governor orders an evacuation of the City of Charleston, the College of Charleston will close its campuses.

Students will NOT be allowed to stay in campus buildings as a storm shelter if an evacuation order is given.

CofC will provide bus transportation to the College’s designated emergency location for any students needing transportation and shelter. You will receive information about this service if an evacuation is ordered.

For students living in on-campus housing, if you plan to leave on your own, notify your resident assistant of your plans.

After the Storm

Monitor the Cougar Alert emergency notification system and College website for official information regarding the reopening of campus and the resumption of classes. Listen to local news media for other information.

Stay where you are, provided it is safe, until authorities give the “all-clear” to return to Charleston.