Natural disasters are extreme weather events that destroy property and can displace entire communities. Across the globe, certain regions are susceptible to specific types of natural disaster, such as landslides and tornadoes. Before you move to a new region, familiarize yourself with the types of natural disasters that plague the area and how you can prepare yourself and your property for them. If you are a homeowner, you may be required to purchase certain types of protection in your homeowner’s insurance policy depending on the natural disaster risks in your region.

Preparing for a natural disaster ahead of time can save you time, money, and energy when one does occur. In addition to being proactive about preparing your family and your property for natural disasters, it is important that you are reactive as well. That means that in the days and weeks that follow any natural disaster, you should take the time to inspect your property to determine the damage it suffered and have the damage repaired as soon as you can. Maintaining safe conditions on your property is a part of premises liability, the legal principle that states that property owners are liable for the damages their guests suffer due to accidents caused by hazards on the property.

Natural Disasters in South Carolina

Earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes are three types of natural disaster that can impact communities in South Carolina. On average, the state receives just under 50 inches of precipitation each year.

Earthquakes most commonly strike South Carolina in the central coastline area. An earthquake can strike without warning. During an earthquake, structures that are not secured to the ground or to a sturdy wall can become loose and crash onto other objects and people, causing them to suffer injuries. As a homeowner, take the time to check on the foundation of your home to determine if there are weak spots that need to be reinforced. Inside the house, secure all wall hangings and ceiling lamps with additional straps or fasteners to keep them from falling during an earthquake. To prepare your family for an earthquake, have regular earthquake drills where each family member practices going to a safe spot to “drop, cover, and hold on” during an earthquake. Have a natural disaster emergency kit available in case you are unable to reach outside assistance following an earthquake or another event.

Tornadoes are extreme wind storms that can tear structures apart. Designate a safe room in your home where your family can wait out a tornado. This should be an interior room on the first floor, the basement, or any other room with a concrete slab-on-grade foundation, such as a garage. Once you are in the safe room, sit under a desk or another piece of furniture that can provide additional protection and wrap your head and neck in your arms for protection. Do not open the window during a tornado.

Hurricanes are characterized by extreme wind and rain. They impact coastal areas and can cause severe flooding, downed trees and telephone poles, and loss of power. To prepare for a hurricane, purchase a backup generator so you can continue to have electricity if your power goes out. Have your roof, windows, and exterior doors reinforced to withstand the high winds of a hurricane and if you are directed to evacuate, comply with the authorities’ orders to do so.

Preparing Your Home and Family for a Natural Disaster

One of the most important ways to prepare for a natural disaster is to have a natural disaster emergency kit in an easily-accessible location in your home. This kit should include the following:

  • Enough clean, fresh water for each member of the household to survive for at least three days;
  • Canned, freeze dried, or otherwise non-perishable food;
  • A battery-operated flashlight;
  • A first aid kit;
  • Matches;
  • Medications and other personal care products; and
  • A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each member of the household.

In addition to having this kit in your home, talk to your family about what to do in each type of natural disaster discussed above. Make sure everybody knows exactly how to respond to each situation so there is no hesitation, just action, when a natural disaster strikes.

Work With an Experienced Charleston Premises Liability Lawyer

Natural disasters can cause severe, sometimes irreparable, damage to homes and other pieces of personal property. Property owners have the responsibility to remove hazardous conditions from their properties within a timely manner and for the conditions that cannot be removed easily, property owners must clearly notify their social and business-related guests of the hazards to cut down on the chance of an accident. If you have been injured because a property owner failed to remove a hazardous condition from his or her property following a natural disaster, consider working with an experienced premises liability lawyer to pursue a personal injury claim. Contact our team at Joye Law Firm today to discuss your case further and determine if you have grounds for a premises liability claim.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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