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2020 Hurricane Seasons Begins

Director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry speaks during a recent briefing on the coronavirus pandemic at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh. Photo: NCDPS Communications

The 2020 hurricane season begins Monday and state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry reminded residents to get ready.

“Today is the first day of the 2020 hurricane season, and North Carolina has already seen the impacts from two early storms, Arthur and Bertha,” he said Monday during a media briefing regarding COVID-19. “Now is the time to make sure that your family is ready for the season.”

Sprayberry recommended visiting readync.org for instructions on building an emergency kit and creating a family emergency and communications plan. “And this year to stay healthy, make sure you include hand sanitizer face coverings and sanitizing wipes in your kit.”

Coastal county residents will want to visit the new know your zone website to see if you’re in a predetermined coastal evacuation zone, Sprayberry added. “Officials in 20 coastal counties have developed these evacuation zones to simplify the process of ordering evacuations, if there are needed.”

In regards to preparing for hurricane season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sprayberry said, “we’re in the process of stockpiling PPE (Personal protective equipment) for shelters as needed. We’re also encouraging our local partners to ensure that their folks have PPE and we are encouraging people that may need to evacuate to have PPE in their kits and their emergency kits.”

Sprayberry said his department is generating a list of hotels willing to serve as noncongregate shelters, which are places where evacuees could stay and maintain social distancing as well as larger facilities.

“As you might imagine, having an evacuation to shelters during a COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for us and so we’re trying to expand the number of places that we can actually shelter,” he said.

State Division of Public Health officials cautioned residents as they are preparing for hurricane season not to use gasoline-powered generators or tools, outdoor grills and camp stoves in enclosed spaces.

These devises should be used outside only and at least 20 feet away from windows, doors and air vents to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, officials said Monday.

Carbon monoxide can be deadly in minutes. Poisoning by the odorless, colorless gas produced whenever fuel is burned can be fatal to anyone, especially children, pregnant women, older adults and/or those with chronic illness. In an enclosed space, such as a home, garage, car, or camper, carbon monoxide can build up to deadly levels quickly. Even low levels of carbon monoxide can cause dizziness, fatigue, nausea, headaches, confusion or fainting.

When buying a generator, make sure to buy or use the correct extension cord to allow the generator to be placed outdoors, at least 20 feet from doors, windows and air vents, and still have enough power to work correctly. For fuel-burning devices, read and follow instructions carefully, use the proper fuel and make sure there is enough air for ventilation and fuel burning.

If you experience symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning including dizziness, fatigue, nausea, headaches, confusion or fainting, get to fresh air immediately and seek medical care. For more information about carbon monoxide poisoning prevention, visit epi.publichealth.nc.gov/oee/a_z/co.html.

About the Author

Jennifer Allen

Born and raised in Swansboro, Jennifer Allen graduated from Appalachian State University in 2002 and picked up a second degree from UNC-Charlotte the following year. She joined the staff of the Carteret County News-Times in Morehead City in 2005 and completed her master's at UNC-Wilmington in 2008. Jenn spent nine years writing and editing at the News-Times before joining the staff at the Town of Beaufort in 2014, where she served as public information officer and town clerk. On June 1, 2017, Jenn came aboard as assistant editor for Coastal Review Online. She has also written for Our State Magazine and other regional and statewide publications. She lives in Morehead City with her fiancé and their pups, Z, Gus and Willa.