Be pre­pared be­fore a hur­ri­cane strikes

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

With hur­ri­cane sea­son start­ing June 1, now is a great time to pre­pare your fam­ily for hur­ri­canes. Each year, we wit­ness the dev­as­tat­ing im­pacts of hur­ri­canes. Hur­ri­canes are not just a threat to coastal com­mu­ni­ties. High winds, heavy rain­fall, tor­na­does, and flood­ing can be felt hun­dreds of miles in­land, po­ten­tially caus­ing loss of life and cat­a­strophic prop­erty dam­age. Hur­ri­canes Sandy, Irene, and Trop­i­cal Storm Lee re­mind us that even de­grad­ing hur­ri­canes and trop­i­cal storms can cause sig­nif­i­cant dam­age.

Know­ing your risk, be­ing pre­pared, and stay­ing in­formed are just a few steps you can take to get ready for hur­ri­cane sea­son. Take ac­tion now be­cause when a storm ap­proaches, it is of­ten too late to get ready. Make sure you have fam­ily evac­u­a­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions plans, up­date your emer­gency sup­ply kit, and eval­u­ate your flood in­sur­ance needs.

Know your area in case you need to evac­u­ate. Dis­cuss with your fam­ily what you would do if you had to evac­u­ate your home. Re­mem­ber, if a hur­ri­cane threat­ens the county and lo­cal of­fi­cials say it’s time to evac­u­ate, don’t hes­i­tate — go early.

Cre­ate a fam­ily com­mu­ni­ca­tion plan, in­clud­ing where your fam­ily and loved ones will meet, and where you will go for dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions. Get to­gether with your fam­ily and agree on the ways to con­tact one an­other in an emer­gency, iden­tify meet­ing lo­ca­tions, and make a plan. You can get a free com­mu­ni­ca­tion plan tem­plate at www.ready.gov/make-a-plan.

Check your in­sur­ance cov­er­age. Many states have in­creased de­ductibles for hur­ri­canes and not all hur­ri­cane-re­lated losses are cov­ered un­der tra­di­tional poli­cies. Most home­owner’s in­sur­ance poli­cies do not cover dam­age or losses from flood­ing. Re­view your pol­icy, en­sure you’re ad­e­quately cov­ered and un­der­stand the ex­clu­sions, and con­tact your agent for any changes. If you’re not in­sured against flood, talk to your agent or visit www.flood­s­mart. gov. Ren­ter’s in­sur­ance poli­cies are also avail­able and should be con­sid­ered as a way of pro­tect­ing your be­long­ings. If you need as­sis­tance re­gard­ing in­sur­ance, con­tact the Mary­land In­sur­ance Ad­min­is­tra­tion. Go to www.in­sur­ance.mary­land.gov/ for ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion.

Know where to go for trusted in­for­ma­tion dur­ing a hur­ri­cane event. Sign up for the Charles County Citizen’s No­ti­fi­ca­tion Ser­vice to re­ceive weather and lo­cal emer­gency no­ti­fi­ca­tions, in­clud­ing evac­u­a­tion or­ders, that go di­rectly to your phone and email. Go to www.CharlesCoun­tyMD.gov/CNS to sign up. Al­ways mon­i­tor lo­cal news for hur­ri­cane watches and warn­ings in your area and fol­low di­rec­tions of lo­cal of­fi­cials.

To learn more about hur­ri­cane pre­pared­ness, go to http:// mema.mary­land.gov/Pages/de­fault.aspx or www.ready.gov/ hur­ri­canes. Stay safe this spring sea­son, be vig­i­lant of the weather, and re­mind your friends and fam­ily to be pre­pared — it could save lives.

Wil­liam Stephens is the direc­tor of the Charles County De­part­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices.

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