April 8 – 14 is Severe Storm Awareness Week; Residents Urged to Prepare for Severe Weather and Other Emergencies
During National Severe Storm Awareness Week (April 8 – 14) Montgomery County’s Office of Homeland Security is urging residents to ensure they are prepared for the next storm , whether it is tornados, hurricanes, possibility of high winds, power outages, severe lightning, hail or flooding. Last year, the state of Maryland experienced 27 tornado incidents.
Anyone who has not already signed up for the County’s Alert Montgomery notification system is encouraged to do so by going to https://alert.montgomerycountymd.gov and selecting the types of emergency alerts they are interested in receiving. Options include weather, severe traffic, schools, parks and government facilities, athletic fields and public events. Residents then specify the devices to which the messages should be sent --cell phones, text pagers, wireless PDAs, home and work emails.
“A few minutes of preparation can make all the difference in how well an individual fares during a severe storm,” said Chris Voss, director of the Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security. “Simple things like maintaining a first aid kit with essential medications for emergencies and keeping at least one gallon of water per person per day on hand can significantly improve personal safety during a severe storm.”
During a severe storm incident, be sure to heed warnings issued by the National Weather Service. A severe storm/thunderstorm watch means there is a possibility of storm activity in the area. A severe storm/thunderstorm warning means activity is occurring or will be occurring soon. Actions to protect life and property should begin immediately when a warning is issued.
Some other severe storm tips to remember:
Prior to the emergency:
Keep enough food, water, medication (if needed) and batteries on hand in the event that power is lost during severe storms.
Check portable radios, smoke detectors and flashlights to ensure they are properly operating and that the batteries are fresh.
Stay tuned to local weather and news reports; if emergency officials advise residents to evacuate, do so without delay.
Residents living in low-lying areas where flooding is anticipated, should remove furniture and valuables from those areas that are prone to water accumulation.
If strong winds are predicted (in excess of 70 miles per hour), consider boarding up windows to prevent breakage; trash cans and other unsecured items in the yard should be taken indoors.
Don’t drive during a severe storm, but, if you must, stay away from roads near rivers and streams and areas where flooding may occur. Never cross over a roadway that has flowing water.
During an emergency:
Stay indoors and away from windows; if tornado or hurricane-force winds are predicted, relocate to the basement or a room that has no windows.
If outside, seek shelter indoors immediately.
Stay tuned to local weather and news reports for emergency information; if told to evacuate by emergency officials, do so immediately.
If power is lost, do not use candles for lighting, use flashlights.
After the emergency:
Do not use fresh food that has come in contact with flood waters; if refrigeration is lost due to a power outage, perishable foods such as meat and milk products may not be safe to eat and should be discarded.
Call utility companies to report downed lines and power outages.
Severe storm information and publications are available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) website at www.nws.noaa.gov and www.education.noaa.gov.
For more information, call 3-1-1.