Se­vere Storms Aware­ness Week: Pre­par­ing for weather emer­gen­cies

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

March 20 marks the be­gin­ning of spring and Mary­land Se­vere Storms Aware­ness Week. In sup­port of this im­por­tant week, the Depart­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices would like to re­mind you to pre­pare be­fore emer­gen­cies hap­pen.

Dur­ing the spring sea­son, Charles County is at risk for flood­ing, dam­ag­ing winds, tor­na­does, hail and lightning. These haz­ards typ­i­cally oc­cur in our county ev­ery year. Equip your fam­ily for emer­gen­cies by cre­at­ing an emer­gency kit. Emer­gency kits are im­por­tant in your home and car, as you never know when dis­as­ter may strike. As­sem­ble your kit be­fore an emer­gency, as you may need to evac­u­ate at a mo­ment’s no­tice and take es­sen­tials with you.

Ba­sic emer­gency kits should in­clude wa­ter, one gal­lon per per­son per day for at least 72 hours; food for at least 72 hours; bat­tery-pow­ered or hand crank ra­dio; flash­light and ex­tra bat­ter­ies; first aid kit; whis­tle to sig­nal for help; dust mask to help fil­ter con­tam­i­nated air; plas­tic sheet­ing and duct tape to shel­ter-in-place; moist tow­elettes, garbage bags and plas­tic ties for per­sonal san­i­ta­tion; wrench; can opener; and lo­cal maps.

Make an emer­gency plan for your fam­ily. Your fam­ily may not be to­gether when a dis­as­ter strikes, which makes it vi­tal to think about how you will com­mu­ni­cate. Con­sider hav­ing a meet­ing place in case you are sep­a­rated, and write down con­tact and med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion. To down­load a free plan, visit www.ready.gov/make-a-plan.

Be­come fa­mil­iar with se­vere weather types and ter­mi­nol­ogy. Two im­por­tant terms are watches ver­sus warn­ings. A watch means the storm may oc­cur. A warn­ing means the storm is near and will hit soon, and you should take cover. If a se­vere thun­der­storm warn­ing is is­sued or you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing strong winds, get to a sturdy shel­ter and stay in­doors away from win­dows. If there is a tor­nado warn­ing or you see a tor­nado, quickly get in­side and go to the low­est floor pos­si­ble. Tor­na­dos can form rapidly in the right con­di­tions.

Be vig­i­lant to your sur­round­ings, es­pe­cially when driv­ing. Dur­ing flood­ing, never en­ter an area where wa­ter is flow­ing over a road and you can­not see the pave­ment. Turn around; don’t drown! If you are out­side and hear thun­der, you are close enough to be struck from a fringe lightning strike. More than 98 per­cent of lightning ca­su­al­ties are from peo­ple out­doors — get in­doors or in­side your ve­hi­cle if pos­si­ble.

Al­ways check the weather re­port be­fore you head out the door. If you would like to re­ceive se­vere weather no­ti­fi­ca­tions by text, phone, or email, sign up for our Ci­ti­zen No­ti­fi­ca­tion Sys­tem. You can se­lect the types of no­ti­fi­ca­tions you wish to re­ceive and how you re­ceive them. Visit www.CharlesCoun­tyMD.gov/CNS to regis­ter.

Take the time to teach your fam­ily how to pre­pare for weather. Visit www.ready.gov for a com­plete list of se­vere storms and pre­pared­ness in­for­ma­tion for adults and chil­dren. Stay safe and happy spring. Wil­liam Stephens is the di­rec­tor of the Depart­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices.

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