As residents of Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding cities of the Lowcountry, hurricanes are a part of our annual rhythm. However, along with these powerful storms comes a barrage of myths that can often distort the understanding and preparedness. We are going to shed light on the truths behind five common hurricane myths prevalent in our community.
Myth 1: Taping Windows Can Keep Them from Shattering
The image of taped windows is almost synonymous with hurricane preparations, but how effective is this practice?
Fact: Taping windows does not increase their strength or prevent them from breaking. In fact, it may lead to larger, potentially more dangerous shards of glass if the window shatters. The best defense is installing hurricane shutters, using plywood boards, or investing in impact-resistant windows.
Myth 2: Opening Windows Balances Pressure and Prevents Damage
The idea that leaving windows slightly open during a hurricane can balance pressure and minimize damage has persisted for years.
Fact: Opening windows allows damaging wind and rain to enter, potentially increasing the damage. Modern houses are constructed to withstand pressure changes during hurricanes. Keep your windows and doors closed and secured.
Myth 3: Lower-Category Hurricanes Pose Less Risk
Lower-category hurricanes often lull residents into a false sense of security.
Fact: It’s important to remember that the category of a hurricane refers mainly to wind speeds, not the total potential for destruction. Depending on the track of the storm the ocean surge could cause more serious flooding. There is also the potential for the storm to gain strength in the final hours before landfall and prevent the feasibility of safe evacuation.
Myth 4: Once the Hurricane’s Eye Has Passed, the Worst is Over
Without power you won’t be able to know if the calm you’re experiencing is the end of the storm or if it is the eye of the storm. This often misleads people into believing the storm has passed and the come outside to begin cleanup only to discover minutes later that the strongest storm winds are back and they are outside.
Fact: The eye of the hurricane is surrounded by the eyewall, where the most severe weather conditions occur. When the eye passes over, conditions can deteriorate rapidly, with winds potentially coming from the opposite direction.
Myth 5: Homeowner’s Insurance Covers All Hurricane Damage
Assumptions about insurance can leave homeowners financially vulnerable post-hurricane.
Fact: Regular homeowner’s insurance often does not cover flood damage, the most common form of hurricane-induced damage. Review your policy to ensure you have the necessary coverage, including flood insurance.
In Charleston, being prepared for hurricanes means more than just stocking up on supplies. It also involves critical decisions on evacuation and where to go as well as dispelling myths and misconceptions that can hinder effective preparation and response. By replacing these myths with facts, we can navigate hurricane season informed and ready.