County issues tips for severe weather emergencies

Be prepared for bad weather. Photo from Simple Wikipedia.

Today marks the official start of hurricane season, which runs through November. In addition, summer brings with it greater chances for severe storms, so we’re passing along these tips from the county’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Before a Storm

  • Build an emergency supply kit, which includes such items as non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries.
  • Make an emergency plan. For example, families, roommates or housemates may not be together when disaster strikes, so it’s important to know how to contact one another, how to get back together and what to do in case of an emergency.
  • Continually monitor the media to be aware of storms that could impact the area.
  • Know how to be warned in an emergency. Alert Montgomery, and NOAA Weather radios with a tone alert are good options.
  • Ensure your home is ready. Bring indoors or secure outdoor items that could become projectiles in high wind.
  • Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting in anticipation of a power outage. Open the door only when necessary and close quickly. Frozen food in a half-full freezer should remain safe for up to 24 hours, and in a full freezer, up to 48 hours.

During a Storm

  • Follow instructions and emergency advice from county officials, or heed shelter or evacuation requests made through announcements on radio or television.
  • Keep an eye on the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes of light or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning.
  • Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you. Tornado danger signs include a dark, almost greenish sky; large hail; a large, dark, low-lying cloud or a loud roar, similar to a freight train.
  • Gather family members, bring pets indoors and have your emergency supply kit ready.
  • Close outside doors and window blinds, shades or curtains. Close all interior doors. Stay away from doors, windows and exterior walls. Stay in a shelter location (small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level) until the danger has passed.
  • During lightning, do not use wired telephones, touch electrical appliances or use running water. Cordless or cellular telephones are safe to use.
  • During a power outage use flashlights and battery-powered lanterns for light. Avoid using candles, which can risk a fire.
  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as personal cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill a bathtub or other large container with the water. This is particularly important for those whose water runs off of an electrical system.
  • If your residence could flood, store valuable and personal papers in a waterproof container.
  • Do not walk through flowing water. Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths. Six inches of swiftly moving water can knock you off your feet.
  • Do not attempt to drive through a flooded road—you can become stranded or trapped. Six inches of water can cause loss of vehicle control and stalling. Twenty-four inches of rushing water will carry away most vehicles, even SUVs and trucks. “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”
  • Stay indoors and limit travel only to absolutely necessary trips. Listen to radio or television for updates.  

After a Storm 

  • Stay off roads to allow emergency crews to clear roads and provide emergency assistance.
  • Help injured or trapped persons. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury.
  • Use the telephone only for emergencies.
  • Use care around downed power lines. Assume a downed wire is a live wire.
  • Watch out for overhead hazards such as broken tree limbs, wires and other debris.
  • Avoid walking into floodwaters. The water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewerage, contain downed power lines or animals.
  • Look for hazards such as broken/leaking gas lines, damaged sewage systems, flooded electrical circuits, submerged appliances and structural damage. Leave the area if you smell gas or chemical fumes.
  • Clean everything that gets wet. For food, medicines and cosmetics—when in doubt, throw it out.
  • Make sure backup generators are well ventilated. Never use grills, generators or camping stoves indoors.
  • Call 3-1-1 (or 240-777-0311 from a cell phone or from a location outside of Montgomery County) to report downed trees on public property and for help with county services, or go to com. If wires are involved with the downed tree, if anyone is trapped, or the tree is blocking a roadway, call 9-1-1.

Residents also can sign up for Alert Montgomery to receive weather warnings, closures, traffic news and more.

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