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Evacuation Planning

The Governor of South Carolina may require a mandatory evacuation. You are encouraged to evacuate when instructed. For example, during a hurricane, emergency services may be unavailable for an undetermined amount of time and you will be on your own without access to essential items such as food, water, electricity, medical services or fuel for your vehicle. Evacuations of specific areas occur because authorities determine that there is an immediate threat to your life and safety. Please review the back cover of this folder for emergency supplies and other information that you should have on hand for evacuation. PREPARE NOW. Know where you will go if evacuated. Anticipate roads on and off the island will be congested and difficult to maneuver. Leave early if possible.

If you intend to go to a shelter and have a pet, please make alternate plans for the safety and survival of your pet. Most, if not all, shelters do not accommodate pets and leaving them unattended during an evacuation often leads to the animal being homeless, injured or killed.

Evacuation Planning Steps

  • Where would you go? To get out of harm's way, you should be prepared to go north, south, or west. Pick a destination in each direction. Your primary destination could be with family or friends. In determining your destination, factor in stop-and-go driving which will greatly increase the amount of time you are on the road and gas use. Please ensure that you are far enough away to ensure your safety.
  • Where would you stay? If you end up in a shelter, only very basic needs will be provided (see back of folder for an evacuation supply kit), and could be in short supply - but being safe is your first concern.
  • What would you take with you? Food, water, clothes, cash, important documents and prescription medications are good examples. It is recommended that you plan to be self-sustaining for at least three days.

If you don't have reliable transportation of your own, you need to know in advance about what options are available from your neighbors or local government. Please contact Hilton Head Island's Emergency Management Office in advance at (843) 682-5156 if you do not have transportation off the Island so we can assist you. For major evacuations a shuttle will be provided from various locations on the Island to the Hilton Head Island Airport where residents and visitors will be transported to a public shelter.

For partial evacuations, please listen for transportation instructions from Town of Hilton Head Island Emergency Management officials.

If you have a medical condition that requires special attention or care, please contact the Hilton Head Emergency Management Office in order to provide you assistance; preferably before an event.

Develop a Family Communications Plan

  • Scale the plan: Is your neighborhood being evacuated or the entire Island?
  • Share the plan with family members. Discuss what to do if kids are in school, if a parent is far from home, etc.
  • Be sure you have all phone numbers: Work, school, cell phones and land lines, host family, friends, your local emergency management office and/or community evacuation resources.
  • Notify others when you are leaving and where you plan to go.
  • Keep your car fueled if evacuation seems likely. Gas stations may be closed during an emergency, out of fuel or unable to pump gas during power outages. Check your oil and other fluids, tire pressure, spare tire, jack and other tools.

Shelter in Place

The Town of Hilton Head Island may ask residents to Shelter in Place during an emergency that has more risk to you if you should try to evacuate (such as a Hazardous Materials spill). Sheltering in Place during a tropical storm or hurricane when a voluntary or mandatory evacuation has been recommended or ordered IS NOT AN OPTION!

Sheltering in place offers you and your family immediate protection for a short time in your home, school, business or other facility. If you are told to shelter in place, get everyone indoors immediately to a central room.

If your children are at school, do not leave your house to go get them. Going outside could expose you to the Hazardous Material or other hazard. Check with your child’s school to ensure that they have plans in place to protect your children during an emergency.

  • Turn on a radio or television to a local station that broadcasts emergency information. Stay tuned until the "all clear" message is broadcast.
  • Follow instructions provided by local officials who may provide specific instructions.
  • Be prepared to evacuate if ordered to do so by public safety officials

Evacuation Kits & Tips