Tips For Protecting Your Family During A Storm In Upstate, SC

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Preparing for storms in the forecast? While we are fortunate not to have the nor’easters they deal with in the North, the constant tornado warnings of the Midwest, or the habitual hurricane prep of the Gulf States, in recent years tornados have become a reality for residents. These super-cell storms usually pop up with little warning, and preparing in advance of the need is the key to keeping your family safe.

Storms are strong and often unpredictable, but there are some things you can do now to better your odds of coming out of a storm unharmed.

For Tips on Keeping Your Pets Safe During A Storm, head to Wagging Around Greenville.

Things To Do Before The Storm

Sign Up Now for Local Emergency Agencies Alerts

Our local emergency management agencies have a way for you to sign up to be alerted as soon as an emergency arises. These alerts include not just weather alerts but things like boil water notices and more.

The time to sign up for these alerts is before an emergency happens.

Make Note of The Severe Weather Seasons and Language Used

While tornadic action can happen at any time for South Carolina, Spring is when they most often occur. You can track all active Tornado Warnings through the National Weather Service Website.

Important Tornado Terms
Tornado Watch
Means just that. You need to be vigilant and keep a watch on the sky if you are out because the conditions exist for rotation to all of a sudden form.

Tornado Warning
This means that there has been tornadic action spotted on the ground or radar, and it’s no longer a MAYBE situation.

Tornado Emergency
With the quickness that a tornado can form, the chance for this type of alert to be issued is rare. If you happen to receive this type of alert, you must IMMEDIATELY take cover.

The Fujita Scale
You will hear the term “F-#” or “EF-#” used. Most often after a storm, because unlike hurricanes, tornado strength is measured by the destruction it causes.
Fujita 0 / 65-85 mph winds – only minor damage sustained
Fujita 1/ 86-110 mph winds – moderate damage sustained
Fujita 2 / 111-135 mph winds – considerable damage sustained
Fujita 3 / 136-165 mph winds – severe damage sustained
Fujita 4 / 166-200 mph winds – devastating damage sustained
Fujita 5 / 200+ mph winds – this is the most severe of storms with the inevitable loss of life and complete devastation left in its path.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th each year. The National Hurricane Center is responsible for tracking storms and collecting the data after they occur.

Important Hurricane Terms
Tropical Storm Warning
This is the Jr. version of a hurricane, with sustained winds of 39-73 mph.

Hurricane Watch
This is issued when severe storm conditions are expected within the next 2 to 3 days.

Hurricane Warning
This is issued for an area when winds in excess of 74 mph can be expected in the next 24 hours.

Hurricane Eye
This is the center of the storm and the calmest part. Usually, the more defined that center hole is, the more strength a storm has. This often when people are caught off guard, thinking the storm has completely passed.

Feeder Bands
These are the “arms” that span out from the eye of the storm. They can be far-reaching, and vary in strength from the rest of the storm.

Locate and Secure Possible Projectiles Prior To A Storm

Don’t wait until you hear the weather siren going off to try and figure out what items in your yard could pose a risk. Anything not secured to the ground should be brought into a garage, a shed, crawl space or secured as best as possible.

  • Trampolines
    Should be broken down and stored if possible or flipped over to be flush with the ground and secured. This will prevent damage and help keep them from becoming airborne.
  • Kayaks & Canoes
    These bullet-shaped vessels are engineered to slice through the water, but that same design makes them a dangerous threat should they get sucked into 100 MPH winds. Bring them into a garage, shed, or crawlspace, if possible. Ours will be stored under our leveled storage shed that is up on blocks at one end.
  • Patio Shade Shelters/Screen Tents
    I’ve lost two different shelter tents in storms. One happened when I wasn’t home, and the other was a surprise storm that ripped a shelter from my hands as I stood (ignorantly) in the rain trying in vain to save it. If you have a sun shelter, sunshade, or other structure, secure the frame to the ground if possible and remove the tent’s fabric portions.
  • Swing Sets / Playground Structures
    Remove swings, see-saws, and any other removable features.

Dealing With Bradford Pear Trees Before A Storm

There’s never a bad time to cut down a Bradford tree. In fact, the State Extension Service has put a bounty on that tree in your front yard’s head. If you can safely chop it down in advance of a storm, do it. Otherwise, take measures to protect your home and vehicles from the tree in the meantime. The “Y” structure of the tree makes it prone to splitting and damaging things in its path. This can happen in perfect weather and without warning, add high winds, and you have a recipe that could bring you costly home or car repairs. If trimming or cutting the tree down isn’t possible before a storm, make sure your vehicles are clear of the landfall radius.

South Carolina Shelters in The Area To Head To During A Storm

For the most accurate and up-to-date info about shelters in the area before, during and after a storm, check the South Carolina Emergency Division Website

Things You Can Do During The Storm To Protect Your Family

Seek Shelter During The Storm

  • Basements are the preferred place to seek shelter, at the below-ground end if it is a walk-out style.
  • Lower-level, Interior Rooms are the second-best option if a basement isn’t available. Preferably a room without a window.
  • Upper-Level Rooms will NOT protect you during an extreme weather event like a tornado. The opposite holds true, of course, if flooding is present.

Prepare For The Possibility Of Boredom and Hunger During The Storm

Charge iPads, round-up card games, and other things that will keep your kids calm and entertained during an extended stay in a cramped space.

Have plenty of snacks on hand to keep anyone from getting hangry! Nothing is more stressful than sitting in a cramped space, with mother nature knocking on your door, and kids whining that they are bored and or hungry. Those Little Debbie cakes, or other snacks you hide (yeah we know…) – now is the time to use that as your superpower.

Stay Indoors, and Away From Windows During A Storm

I know this seems redundant, but it is easy to be lured to the window or door with curiosity. It’s also important to stay dressed in clothes and shoes appropriate for the outdoor weather if you have to flee a structure. If you have bicycle helmets, keep them handy. In the event of a tornado, they can protect your and your children’s heads from debris.

Two workers at the Ashley HomeStore in Spartanburg learned a valuable lesson in 2020 when they tried to hold the glass doors shut. The video of their close call made national news; luckily, it was only a precautionary tale.

Keeping Toddlers and Infants Safe During A Storm

Explaining to a baby or a small child that you are having to hide from mother nature is not the easiest thing to do. They aren’t built to be contained in a small shelter space for long periods of time, and this can be stressful, in an already stressful situation. If you have children who are comfortable in their car seats, then use that to your advantage. A car seat, after all, is built to protect them.

If you are sheltering in a room with a crib, you can pop the mattress out of the crib, place the child in the crib and then place the mattress diagonally across the top to protect the child from debris. This is what child care facilities are instructed to do by DSS.

Stay Tuned To Local Information Sources During The Storm

We are fortunate in the Upstate to have a National Weather Service location at GSP. This means that our area’s information is coming from within our area; it doesn’t get more “real-time” than that. Ensuring your mobile devices, power banks, and weather radios are fully charged is a good way to keep you connected to dependable news sources.

Things You Can Do After The Storm To Protect Your Family

February 2020 Tornado Damage in Spartanburg, SC

Continue To Monitor Emergency Monitoring Broadcasts After A Storm

Once the storm has passed, it’s important to continue monitoring the situation through the trusted sources listed above. Flash-flooding and other events often come after a storm has passed, and can create added hazards for residents.

Do Not Go Exploring Immediately After A Severe Weather Event

By nature, humans are curious creatures. We want to see what has been left in the path of a destructive storm, especially in the age of social media. Emergency response agencies are constantly reminding folks, that even after the storm has passed, there are still dangers present.

Downed power lines, storm surges, and washed-out roads can create rescue situations that have to pull emergency response and first responder teams away from other storm-related issues. If the damage is severe, it will still be there several days after the storm when conditions are safer to travel.

What storm safety tips should we add to our list?

About the Author
Melanie is a native New Yorker, who landed in the Upstate by way of Florida. She is the mom of two awesome kids, and the three of them love going on adventures!

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