That was the message organizers and vendors wanted people to hear at the Storm Ready Preparedness Expo Saturday at The Home Depot on Magwood Road, one day before the official start of hurricane season.
"It's been 25 years since Hugo, and a lot of people have moved here since then. We don't have hurricanes every year, and that's a good thing, but it means we let our guard down," said Raymond Farmer, director of the South Carolina Department of Insurance, which partnered with The Home Depot and other businesses and agencies to host the event.
Farmer said he encourages homeowners to check their insurance coverage, as well to take a photo inventory of their house.
Tom Crosby, East Cooper liaison for Lowcountry Community Emergency Response Team, said people should be aware of their evacuation zone and the evacuation route they would have to take.
"We're here to help people start planning if they haven't started," he said. "It only takes one storm to ruin your day."
Maude Johnson of Charleston said she attended the expo to learn about the resources available.
"I moved here from Birmingham two years ago, and that's tornado alley. And now I'm living in hurricane alley, so I thought I should learn how to prepare for that," she said.
Johnson said the expo taught her a lot, like what supplies to keep on hand.
"I'd started an emergency kit, but now I have a checklist for what to put in it," she said.
Patti Lee, assistant store manager at The Home Depot, said these emergency kits should include batteries, tarps, ropes, flashlights, a generator and a fuel tank. But perhaps most important, she said, is water, whether bottled or sitting in a bathtub.
"Around here, a lot of people are on well systems, and when you don't have electricity, you don't have water," she said.
Another way people can prepare is to have a plan in place for their pets, said Steve O'Brien, director of volunteer and emergency services at the Charleston Animal Society.
"If there's a storm coming, secure pets before, because they get nervous and hide," he said. "And then you have to decide, do I look for them, or do I leave them?"
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