Be Safe During an Incident

The best way to be safe during an incident is to plan BEFORE an incident occurs.  Here are tips and resources to help you make your plan.

  • Learn about the hazards.  New Hanover County residents should be aware of the different threats and hazards to build your family's preparedness plan.  Visit this page to learn about potentially damaging weather and other emergencies that could impact our community. Hurricanes, floods, snow storms, and other emergencies have caused power outages, property damage, and interruptions in food and water supplies in our area. Depending on the type of emergency, you may be asked to evacuate or shelter in place (stay put).In addition to preparing an emergency plan and supply kit before disaster strikes, it is important to be informed and ready to respond to specific emergencies or hazardous situations.
  • Get information. Being informed is key to being #ReadyNHC. NHC Emergency Management and other public safety partners use many tools to alert you on what to do and how to stay safe during a crisis.  

  • Know where you can go for shelter. 
    • At home - Depending on the emergency, your shelter location may be different.  For a tornado - go as interior and as low as you can go.  For a flood - go as high as you can. Practice getting to these locations with your family before an emergency happens.
    • At work - Talk to your employer about the location of safe areas and areas of refuge where you take shelter in an emergency.  
    • In the community - Emergency shelters are opened as the disaster dictates and is based on the event, the expected impact, and the duration of the impact of an emergency,  Visit this page to see where disaster shelter sites are.  Not all shelters are opened in an emergency, so be sure to sign up for Emergency Alerts to get the latest information.
  • Turn Around Don't Drown - Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. People underestimate the force and power of water. Many of the deaths occur in cars swept downstream. Many of these drownings are preventable. Never drive around the barriers blocking a flooded road. The road may have collapsed under that water.  A mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away most cars and just 2 feet of rushing water can carry away SUVs and trucks. It is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters.
  • When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors-  Lightning is an underrated killer, responsible for an average of 26 deaths per year across the country (10 year average). Of all storm-related hazards, only flooding and tornadoes claim more lives per year on average.  Yet, because lightning rarely causes mass destruction of property or mass casualty events, the dangers associated with it are underappreciated.  There are an estimated 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes per year in the United States, each one capable of seriously injuring or killing anyone unlucky enough to be struck.  Aside from the average of 26 deaths, an average of 500+ lightning injuries are reported each year,
    • How can I keep myself and my family safe from lightning?

      The short answer is: easily.  Always keep in mind that if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning.  Seek shelter immediately in a sturdy building or, if a building is not available, a hard-topped vehicle with the windows rolled up.  When indoors, refrain from using corded appliances or other equipment or facilities that put you in contact with electrical systems or plumbing.  Stay inside until the storms have moved away AND thunder is no longer audible.  This is very important, since lightning can and occasionally does strike well away from the thunderstorm itself.
    • What if I am outside and no shelter or vehicle is available?

      No place outside is safe during a thunderstorm.  If no safe shelter is available, you can only slightly reduce your risk of being struck by avoiding a common mistake.  Do NOT seek shelter under tall, isolated trees or partially enclosed structures.  This will keep you dry, but will enhance your vulnerability to lightning.  Ensure that you are familiar with the latest weather forecast for your area.  If thunderstorms are possible or expected, curtail your outdoor activities during that time, or ensure that you have constant access to a sturdy, fully enclosed shelter, such as a home or business.
    • What do I do if someone has been struck by lightning? 

      If a person is struck by lightning, call 911 and get medical care immediately. Cardiac arrest and irregularities, burns, and nerve damage are common in cases where people are struck by lightning. However, with proper treatment, including CPR if necessary, most victims survive a lightning strike, although they may be left with serious and lasting effects. You are in no danger when helping a lightning victim, and you may safely do so immediately.  Lightning victims do not carry a charge.