Better to be prepared when caught in a hurricane
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.