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#06-145 June 5, 2006

Officials: Be prepared for hurricane season

Hurricane season begins on June 1 each year and continues through Nov. 30. Although this is the predominant time of year for hurricanes to occur in the Atlantic Basin, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, tropical storms can and have formed in every month of the calendar year.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was one of the most devastating hurricanes in the history of the United States. It produced catastrophic damage—estimated at $75 billion in the New Orleans area and along the Mississippi coast—and is the costliest U. S. hurricane on record. Katrina is responsible for about 1,200 reported deaths, including about 1,000 in Louisiana and 200 in Mississippi. Seven additional deaths occurred in southern Florida.

For these reasons, the South Carolina State Climatology Office places a special emphasis on the need for pre- and post-storm preparations and safety measures. “Prepare and stay aware,” said State Climatologist Hope Mizzell. “The 1,200 deaths due to Katrina last year resulted from electrocutions, automobile accidents and carbon monoxide poisoning as well as storm surge. We must remember to observe safety rules even after the storms to protect lives.”

With another busy season approaching, it is vitally important to review family emergency plans and safety rules. The Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University predicts another busy year with 17 named storms this season with nine hurricanes, five of them major.

In order to avoid potentially serious consequences to property and life during tropical weather this summer, it is best to be prepared and take specific actions in the task of Hurricane Preparedness and Safety. Valuable information can be found at the State Climatology Office Web site http://www.dnr.sc.gov/climate/sco/ or by calling (803) 734-9100 in Columbia.

Below is a brief list of the necessary actions to take before, during, and after the storm passes.

Remember: Although the storm surge and wind are usually confined to the immediate coastal regions, inland areas where you find shelter are also under the threat of significant weather including rainfall-induced floods, tornadoes, and high winds. A safe location for the family to gather should be arranged upon arrival at your destination. Downed trees and power lines present a new set of challenges upon re-entry into storm-ravaged areas. Take proper precautions to avoid electric shock. Contact the proper utility company and stay clear of the danger.

Using a generator in an enclosed room, such as a garage or home, can cause carbon monoxide to build up. Carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to significant health problems and, possibly, death. The generator should only be used outside in a well-ventilated area.
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