RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Over the years, North Carolina governors have declared a state of emergency ahead of hurricanes, winter storms and other disasters.

But what does this actually mean?

Rescue team member Sgt. Nick Muhar, from the North Carolina National Guard 1/120th battalion, evacuates a young child as the rising floodwaters from Hurricane Florence threatens his home in New Bern, N.C., on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

North Carolina law allows a state of emergency to be declared when there is imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury or loss of life or property, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety said.

These threats can come from a natural or man-made cause. 

A state of emergency allows government officials to take extra measures to protect the public, NCDPS said.

It also puts anti-price gouging laws into effect.

It also allows officials to ask for federal aid for disaster response.

“A State of Emergency can be declared by a governor, local mayor, governing body of a municipality, county or the General Assembly,” NCDPS said. “Declarations typically include a description of the geographical area covered and can include lists of prohibitions and restrictions on certain activities to promote public safety.”

Beyond those items, state or local officials can order restrictions – such as on alcohol sales or enact a curfew.

A state of emergency does not close government offices.

“All in all, when a governor or local body declares a State of Emergency, emergency managers are provided with the legal means they need to deploy resources and immediately respond to a crisis to protect lives and property,” NCDPS said.