Outer Banks Safety

Hurricanes & Evacuations

Hurricane Resources:

Important Phone Numbers:

Outer Beaches: 1-800-627-3150
Dare County: 1-800-446-6262
Emergency Mgmt.: 252-473-3355
Non emergency Dare County: 252-473-3444

Local Radio Stations:

NOAA Weather Radio: 162.550
AM WOBR: 1530
FM WOBR: 95.3
FM WCXL: 104.1
FM WERX: 102.5
FM WKJX: 96.7
FM WNHW: 92.5
FM WRSR: 105.7

If A Hurricane Strikes

When hurricanes threaten the Outer Banks, it is imperative that you adhere to the instructions of Outer Beaches Realty and local authorities. When time permits, each cottage will be notified of what to do. Outer Beaches Realty’s policies are as follows:

When a hurricane WATCH is issued, you should begin preparations for possible evacuation. Outer Beaches Realty will monitor the storm along with local authorities and the National Hurricane Center. When the probability of a hit to Hatteras Island becomes likely, Dare County will issue a MANDATORY EVACUATION. Evacuation is required whenever a mandatory evacuation is issued by Dare County officials. You should pack all belongings, including food, and evacuate immediately. Neither Outer Beaches nor the cottage Owner will be responsible for any items you may leave behind.

Exit the Island to the north only! Police will direct you to the quickest safe route when you reach the traffic light at Whalebone Junction (first traffic light north of the Island). Prior to leaving the cottage, complete the Hurricane Preparation Checklist.

Hurricane Preparation Checklist

  • Tightly lock and secure ALL doors and windows
  • Turn picnic tables upside down
  • Bring all deck furniture and anything that may be blown away inside
  • Unplug all appliances, TVs, VCRs, DVDs and stereos
  • Bring trash cans in from the road and store in outside shower/storage area
  • Secure all hot tub covers with the provided straps
  • Set thermostats to OFF position
  • Turn off refrigerator and prop refrigerator and freezer doors open with chair
  • Turn main power off at breaker panel
  • Close all blinds, make sure door is locked behind you and screen door is tightly latched

These steps shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes and could make the difference in damage caused by hurricanes. Think of you how thankful you would be if someone staying in your house did this for you! Your help in completing these items is needed and greatly appreciated by the cottage Owner and Outer Beaches Realty.

Upon leaving the Island, you may either stay at a motel inland or return home. Keep in mind that the first people to evacuate will get the closest motel rooms and avoid traffic tie-ups. The longer you wait, the farther you’ll have to travel to find accommodations. After the storm passes, you may call our office or local authorities to see if you can return. If so, we are glad to have you come back and enjoy the rest of your vacation.

There will be NO REFUNDS OR CREDITS FOR HURRICANE EVACUATIONS. Whether you own property, run a business, or rent a cottage on Hatteras Island, the threat of a hurricane is always present during certain months of the year, and we all assume this risk. Therefore, we suggest you consider Travel Protection Insurance to secure your vacation investment and eliminate your financial risk. There will be no refunds of any kind for hurricane evacuations. According to the North Carolina Vacation Rental Act, in the event of a mandatory evacuation, “The tenant shall not be entitled to a refund if: i.e. prior to the Tenant taking possession of the property, the Tenant refused insurance offered by the landlord or real estate broker that would have compensated him or her for losses or damages resulting in loss of use of the property due to a mandatory evacuation order; or i.e. the Tenant purchased insurance offered by the landlord or real estate broker.” This means that no refunds will be given either by Outer Beaches Realty or the landlord if you either buy or refuse to buy insurance. Please consider Travel Protection Insurance, which will reimburse you for lost vacation time, to avoid this risk.

During periods of evacuation you may visit our homepage for twice daily alerts or call the Outer Beaches Realty main office at 800-627-3150 for frequent updates of the storm and important information via our automated voice mail system.

Names for 2017 Atlantic Storms:  Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katia, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince, and Whitney.

*Please note: If severe weather threatens our Island and circumstances beyond our control cause you to remain at a cottage, please follow the above steps. Seek high ground to park your vehicle (or vehicles) on so they aren’t damaged by floodwaters.

Outer Beaches facilitates the purchase of Travel Insurance through third party providers specializing in vacation coverage. Your vacation rental agreement will include this optional plan. We highly recommend that you consider this option to protect your vacation from unforeseen occurrences. For more information, click here.

Safety Procedures

Prepare a Personal Evacuation Plan

Identify ahead of time where you could go if you are told to evacuate. Choose several places — a friend’s home in another town, a hotel or a shelter. If you are coming to the Outer Banks and need to evacuate, remember there will be many other people evacuating as well. Early planning could make a big difference!

Keep handy the telephone numbers of those places as well as a road map — you may need to take alternative or unfamiliar routes if major roads are closed or clogged. Above is a listing of emergency and non-emergency numbers you should have on hand.

When evacuating, do not forget these items:

  • Prescription medications and medical supplies
  • Bedding and clothing, including sleeping bags and pillows if available
  • Bottled water, battery-operated radio & extra batteries, first aid kit, flashlight
  • Car keys and maps
  • Any documents you may need, such as your driver’s license, credit cards, etc.

Listen to NOAA weather radio, local radio, the Weather Channel or national news if available. Pay attention to local officials and if advised to evacuate, do so immediately. The roads will be getting busy, and the earlier you leave, the less congestion you will deal with. If you are staying in a vacation rental, please complete the above Hurricane Preparation Checklist before leaving.

Evacuation Route off of the Outer Banks

Head NORTH on NC Highway 12 and then WEST at US Highway 64 or NORTH at US Highway 158 (both in Nags Head).

Expect to encounter traffic congestion and several hours of waiting before exiting the area. The sooner you leave, the less congestion you will cause and encounter!

Returning to the Outer Banks after a Hurricane has passed

After the storm has passed, do not return to the area until reentry has been advised by local officials and Outer Beaches. Time is needed to assess storm damage and act on rescue efforts. There may be primitive conditions in the area, such as no electricity, inadequate gasoline and food supplies, contaminated water, impassable roadways and undermined houses.

Remember to call our toll-free number at 1-800-627-3150; we will update the message at least once a day! If you have internet access, OuterBeaches.com will have the most complete, most up to date information from Dare County, the National Weather Center and NOAA before, during and after a hurricane.

Re-Entry stages for getting back onto the Outer Banks

Stage 1: Critical need personnel identified by special permit issued by the Municipal Mayors and the Chairman of the Dare County Control Group.

Stage 2: Permanent residents and resident property owners that have a re-entry permit identified with an “R”, a Dare County driver’s license or a current Dare County tax receipt.

Stage 3: A non-resident improved property owner — identified by a solid color permit or a current Dare County tax receipt.

Stage 4: General public.

Hurricane Frequently Asked Questions

When do hurricanes occur?
Hurricane season lasts from June 1st until November 30th each year. There have been instances where storms formed in May and December, however this is rare.

Where do hurricanes occur?
Hurricanes can form almost anywhere in the Tropical Atlantic Basin from the West Coast of Africa near the Cape Verde Islands, to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. There are several prime areas where development can occur depending on the time of year and necessary environment conditions. The most common places for hurricanes to develop in the Atlantic Basin include:
The Gulf of Mexico: With water temperatures ranging from 85-90° during hurricane season, this is a very favorable region for hurricane development. Hurricanes from this region generally move into the Gulf Coast states from Texas to Florida.
The Western Caribbean: Favorable upper winds make this area a hot-spot for hurricane development during the season. Its cousins, the Eastern and Central Caribbean, are usually not favorable areas due to hostile upper level winds. Hurricanes from this region generally move into the Gulf Coast area, or along the East Coast.
Cape Verde Islands: The granddaddy of hurricane hot-spots, this is the most common area for hurricane development starting in August, when water temperatures become warm enough to support tropical formation. Hurricanes from this region generally travel west towards the Caribbean and East Coast of the United States.

What is the difference between a Hurricane WATCH and a Hurricane WARNING?
A hurricane WATCH means hurricane conditions are possible in the specified area of the WATCH, usually within 36 hours.
A hurricane WARNING means hurricane conditions are expected in the specified area of the WARNING, usually within 24 hours.

What is the difference between a Tropical Depression, Tropical Storm and a Hurricane?
Tropical Depression (Winds up to 39 mph): Rough seas, small craft warnings. Barometric pressure is estimated at 29.73″.
Tropical Storm (Winds 39 – 73 mph): Heavy seas, capsizing of smaller vessels, flooding of low areas, heavy rain. Storm surge is less than 4′ above normal. Barometric pressure is less than 29.53″.
Hurricane Category 1 (Winds 74 – 95 mph): Light damage to buildings. Damage to un-anchored mobile homes, poorly constructed signs. Some coastal flooding with minor pier damage. Storm surge is generally 4-5′ above normal. Barometric pressure is between 28.94″ and 29.53″.
Hurricane Category 2 (Winds 96 – 110 mph): Some damage to building roofs, doors and windows. Considerable damage to mobile homes. Flooding damages piers and small craft in unprotected moorings may break their moorings. Some trees blown down. Storm surge is generally 6-8′ above normal. Barometric pressure is between 28.50″ and 28.91″.
Hurricane Category 3 (Winds 111 – 130 mph): Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings. Large trees blown down. Mobile homes and poorly built signs destroyed. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by floating debris. Terrain may be flooded well inland. Storm surge is generally 9-12′ above normal. Barometric pressure is between 27.91″ and 28.47″.
Hurricane Category 4 (Winds 131 – 155 mph): More extensive curtain wall failures with some complete roof structure failure on small residences. Major erosion of beach areas. Terrain may be flooded well inland. Tornado threat inland. Storm surge is generally 13-18′ above normal. Barometric pressure is between 27.17″ and 27.88″.
Hurricane Category 5 (Winds 155 mph and greater): Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures. Severe Flooding with major damage to lower floors of all structures near the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas may be required. Storm surge is generally greater than 18′ above normal. Barometric pressure is below 27.17″.

What is the “eye” of a hurricane?
This is the small area of clear weather that is denoted by calm winds and even sunny skies. It is the center of the lowest pressure within the hurricane.

What is the “eyewall” then?
This is the “wall” of the “eye” of the storm and is where the most severe weather and highest sustained winds are generally reported. It is the absolute last place you want to be in a hurricane.

What is storm surge?
This is the term for the large dome of water that accompanies the landfall of a hurricane. It is responsible for 90% of all deaths that occur.

Why do we name tropical storms and hurricanes?
Quite simply, because it is easily for residents in the affected area to recognize, remember and understand.

How are tropical storms and hurricanes named?
The National Hurricane Center created the list of names we use to name hurricanes. Names are rotated on a six year basis, with a rotating list of male and female names. Whenever a particularly powerful storm hits land, (such as Hurricane Andrew in 1992), the name is then retired from the list to avoid confusion in the future.

How many storms generally occur in a given season?
The average number of named storms (depressions or tropical storms) each season is between 9-10. The average number of hurricanes that form each season is between 5-6, of which 2-3 of these will generally become major hurricanes.

Beach Safety

These beach safety tips will help your entire family stay safe and happy, both in and out of the water.

Wear sunblock

The ultraviolet rays of the sun are the strongest between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. each day, so try to limit your time in the sun during these hours.  Choose a sunblock with an SPF of 30 or more. Children have very sensitive skin, so it is important that they have adequate sunblock protection while you are on the beach. Be sure to apply sunblock to all exposed skin, including ears, nose and neck. You should also buy some protective lip balm with SPF and apply that to lips.

Wear other sun protection

It is also a good idea to take sunglasses, brimmed hats and beach umbrellas to the beach with you. All of these things help block the sun from your eyes and other parts of your face and body.

Treat sunburn

If you or your child spends a bit too much time in the sun and does get a sunburn, it is a good idea to apply an after-sun lotion with aloe. This will cool the skin and make the sunburn heal faster.

Drink water

Being outside in the sun on a hot day can lead to dehydration if you don’t have adequate water. You may want to bring a cooler of water with you so you are sure there is enough to last everyone in your family through the entire day of fun in the sun at the beach.

Wear swimming shoes

It is a good idea for children to wear swimming shoes while at the beach. Sea glass and other sharp objects could cut their feet or jellyfish and other sea creatures may be located on the beach and could sting or cut their feet. Swimming shoes will help prevent accidents like this from happening during your trip to the beach.

Beware of Currents

If your child is swimming in the ocean, have them wear a life jacket and supervise them at all times. It is also a good idea to have your child take swimming lessons. Riptides and currents can be unexpected and dangerous even for adults, and not all of the area beaches are watched by lifeguards. Familiarize yourself and each your children what to do in case they do get caught in a riptide: Swim parallel to shore until you get out of the rip current instead of trying to swim directly to shore.

rip_current_Poster2-01

Aquatic Wildlife Safety

During your visit to the island you will encounter many different types of wildlife during your stay. Below you will find some safety tips and first aid recommendations when dealing with aquatic wildlife encounters.

Jellyfish

Jellyfish can put the sting on your vacation. Always scan the water before splashing in. Make sure you educate your children about jellyfish, as they might touch them out of curiosity in the water or on the sand. In case of a sting, rinse off any remaining tentacles with salt water, not fresh, and use a credit card or other item to scrape, if necessary. Then rinse with vinegar, not fresh water. If you experience swelling, shortness of breath, or faintness, seek medical attention immediately.

The less common blue-purple Portuguese Man o’ War is not a jellyfish but a siphonophore. It can deliver a painful sting even when dead. Portuguese man o’ war stings are treated differently than jellyfish stings. First, apply saltwater and then follow-up with hot water for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not treat with vinegar. If necessary seek medical attention.

Sharks

While the ocean is home to a wide variety of sea life including sharks, shark encounters are rare. According to the ISAF, Florida Museum of Natural History, the likelihood of a shark attack is 1 in 11.5 million. The likelihood of a fatality is less than 1 in 264 million. To put it in perspective, in North Carolina you would be 193 times more likely to die from a lightning strike than a shark attack.

Though chance encounters with sharks are highly unlikely, there are precautions you can take when swimming in the ocean:

  • Sharks actually try to avoid humans, but if you’re in murky water they may not see you. Use extra caution.
  • Leave shiny jewelry on shore – to a shark it may look like fish scales.
  • Sharks see contrast particularly well, so dark swimsuits are preferable to bright colored clothing.
  • Remember that you’re sharing the water with fish that attract sharks and other predators.
  • Avoid swimming in lower light situations like first thing in the morning and evening or when water is cloudy due to rough weather or heavy rain.
  • Avoid swimming between islands and within 300 feet of surfers, piers, fishermen and where seagulls or other birds are diving and feeding.
  • Use caution around sandbars with steep drop-offs toward the ocean.
  • Avoid swimming alone, especially far from shore in deeper waters.
  • Avoid swimming if bleeding because a shark’s sense of smell is highly sensitive.
  • Don’t fish while standing more than knee deep in the surf.
  • Do not enter water if sharks are around and calmly evacuate the water if any sharks are seen.

Stingrays

Stingrays lay on the bottom, partly burying under the sand. When stepped on, they will whip their tail up and stab the offender with their barb. It is a defensive behavior. Always shuffle your feet on the sand bottom when wading in the water. This way, you will alert the ray of your presence and it may scare them off. Teach young ones to shuffle their feet and never walk as if on land.

Treatment:

  • If barb penetrates the trunk of a person, seek URGENT medical attention
  • Control bleeding
  • Do not apply compression bandaging
  • Immediately place the affected area in water as hot as possible
  • If heat is unavailable or fails to provide relief then ice or ice packs should be applied to the area for up to 30 minutes and repeated as necessary
  • When possible, using clean, fresh water and a weak antiseptic or detergent, clean the wound area
  • Seek medical aid for all stingray injuries