Bet­ter to be pre­pared when caught in a hur­ri­cane

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Hur­ri­canes can be dev­as­tat­ing for coastal com­mu­ni­ties this time of year, and those of us who tend to be more su­per­sti­tious might say we’re due for some­thing soon.

While se­vere thun­der­storms have come and gone, the last ma­jor hur­ri­cane sea­son events to pack a punch in Charles County were the dere­cho of the sum­mer of 2012, which was fol­lowed that fall by Hur­ri­cane Sandy, and — prior to that — Hur­ri­cane Irene in 2011.

Some might say we’re over­due for an­other high-wind, tree-down­ing, rain-bat­ter­ing weather event. Or maybe we’re not; maybe we’ll wind up with an­other pri­mar­ily un­event­ful sum­mer and fall.

The re­al­ity is our na­tion’s weather tech­nol­ogy can’t yet say for cer­tain what this year will bring us. So it’s best to be pre­pared, just in case.

Hur­ri­canes can mean winds of up to 150 mph, high tides, flood­ing and even tor­na­does. Typ­i­cally, the At­lantic hur­ri­cane sea­son stretches from June through Novem­ber, though we tend to see most of the ac­tion in Charles County in the sec­ond half of the sum­mer and fall. With July nearly upon us, here are some hur­ri­cane pre­pared­ness tips from the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity’s www.ready.gov site:

• Pre­pare your home: Be­fore a hur­ri­cane is even re­ported, there are steps you can take to keep your prop­erty and fam­ily safe. Trim or re­move dam­aged trees and limbs; se­cure loose rain gut­ters and down­spouts and clear any clogged ar­eas or de­bris to pre­vent wa­ter da­m­age; se­cure and re­in­force the roof, win­dows and doors of the home; and pur­chase a por­ta­ble gen­er­a­tor or in­stall a gen­er­a­tor for use dur­ing power out­ages (keep them out­side, at least 20 feet away from win­dows and doors and pro­tected from mois­ture and never at­tempt to power the house by plug­ging a gen­er­a­tor into a wall out­let).

• Dur­ing a “hur­ri­cane watch,” re­view evac­u­a­tion routes, lis­ten to any in­for­ma­tion be­ing broad­cast by lo­cal of­fi­cials and re­view and add to the items in your dis­as­ter sup­ply kit. Kits should con­tain non­per­ish­able food, wa­ter and other sup­plies, such as flash­lights, lo­cal maps, first aid sup­plies and a bat­tery-pow­ered ra­dio.

• Dur­ing a “hur­ri­cane warn­ing,” fol­low any evac­u­a­tion orders from lo­cal of­fi­cials, check in with fam­ily and friends and fol­low the hur­ri­cane time­line pre­pared­ness check­list found at www.ready.gov/hur­ri­canes. When the hur­ri­cane is six hours away or closer, stay away from win­dows, turn the re­frig­er­a­tor or freezer to the cold­est set­ting so food lasts longer in the event the power goes out, and check for on­line, TV or ra­dio up­dates.

• After a hur­ri­cane: Lis­ten to of­fi­cials for up­dates or in­struc­tions; check in with fam­ily and friends; re­turn home only once au­thor­i­ties say it is safe; watch for any de­bris or downed power lines; avoid walk­ing or driv­ing through flood wa­ter, as it may sweep you away or be elec­tri­cally charged from downed lines; and pho­to­graph any prop­erty da­m­age to aid in fil­ing an in­sur­ance claim.

For more in­for­ma­tion on stay­ing safe, both proac­tively and dur­ing a po­ten­tially dev­as­tat­ing hur­ri­cane or se­vere storm, go to www.ready.gov or check out the Charles County Emer­gency Man­age­ment page at www. charle­scoun­tymd.gov/es/em/emer­gency-man­age­ment.

Re­gard­less of what Mother Na­ture hits us with this sea­son, it’s bet­ter to be safe than sorry.

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