Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Survival Guide

The most important thing you can do is be informed and prepared 

Rockville - - - Area residents are encouraged to be prepared for the possible impacts of severe weather as Hurricane Irene heads north and expected to hit the region this weekend. Hurricane Irene is the first major storm of the Atlantic hurricane season and officials are monitoring its projected path closely.
As with any weather-related emergency, residents are urged to take steps now to ensure that their homes and families are prepared for a possible close encounter with Hurricane Irene. Hurricane hazards may come in many forms including lightening, flooding, storm surge, tornadoes, high winds, etc. With the month of September designated as “National Preparedness Month,” it’s the perfect time to review and restock your Emergency Kit supplies and ensure everyone is familiar with your family’s Emergency Communication Plan.

Before the storm

Check and restock your emergency supply kit with items such as non-perishable foods, a manual can opener, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries.   

Understand what the various weather advisories mean and keep apprised of conditions outside.

- Know your local radio stations for weather updates and keep a battery-powered radio on hand for changing conditions.

- Keep the lines of communication open. Charge cell phones and wireless laptop computers in advance.

- Have flashlights on hand, along with fresh batteries.

- Update your list of emergency phone numbers and include folks that may require special care, such as seniors and people with disabilities.
- Prepare your home - bring in any outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys, wind chimes and garden tools that you can; anchor objects that cannot be brought inside but that could be wind-tossed.
- Check all smoke alarms. Having a working smoke alarm is vital to your safety year-round and can immediately alert you to potential danger 24/7. 
- Make sure your gas tank is filled.
- Have a plan for your pets. Have adequate food and water and use caution when letting your pet outdoors after the storm. Downed power lines, glass and other hazards could present real dangers to your pet.

During the storm

- Avoid using candles for lighting - flashlights are the best and safest choice during a power outage.
- Never use a candle when fueling equipment such as a kerosene heater or lantern, since the
candle flame can ignite fumes from the fuel.
- Try to stay in an interior room or away from windows.
- Stay calm and do not call 911 unless it is an emergency.
- Unplug electronics. During a power outage, turn off as many appliances as possible. This will minimize losing power again through a power surge and protect the equipment and your home when power returns.
- Use care with generators. Carbon monoxide is a quick killer. If you have a generator, make sure you also have a carbon monoxide detector, either battery operated or with a battery backup. Never operate a generator inside a house, garage, shed or other enclosed area, even if windows and doors are open. Do not use it outside near open windows or doors.
- Do not go outside. Flying debris, downed wires from high winds are a real danger.

After the storm

Listen to the authorities. Remain indoors until an official "all clear" is issued.

Use extreme caution when cleaning up storm damage on your property. Downed or damaged power lines can send electrical currents through tree branches and metal fences, so survey the area carefully - especially if you'll be using a pruning pole, ax or chainsaw.

3. For downed trees on public property, Montgomery County residents should call -311 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays (or 240-777-0311 from outside the county or from a cell phone), or file a report at If live wires are involved, the tree is blocking a roadway, the tree is on a structure or if anyone is trapped under a fallen tree, call 911.

. Know your limits. Many storm-related deaths and injuries involve existing health problems exacerbated by the physical demands of cleanup activities.

Drive with caution. Avoid areas subject to flooding, including low spots, canals and streams. Do not attempt to drive on a flooded road, which could lead to becoming stranded or trapped because the depth of the water and the condition of the road is not always obvious.

6. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers, downed wires and other hazards.
7. Call 911 for life threatening situations only.

Call authorities to report any hazards such as downed power lines, leaking gas mains, broken water mains and overturned gas tanks.

Watch what you eat. If power was off during the storm, check refrigerated and frozen foods for spoilage. When in doubt, throw it out.

10. Avoid areas subject to flooding, including low spots, canals and streams. Never attempt to drive on a flooded road.   

Replenish supplies used from your emergency kit as soon as possible, you might need it again next week.

12. Check on your neighbors - especially the elderly, those with special needs or the disabled.

Important utility company numbers:
PEPCO:  To report an outage: 877-PEPCO-62 (877-737-2662) and press 1
                To report a downed wire: 877-PEPCO-62 (877-737-2662) and press 2

BG & E: To report an outage: 877-778-2222
                To report a downed wire: 410-685-0123
Potomac Edison (Allegheny Power): 1-800-255-3443
Dominion Virginia Power: 1-866-366-4357
Washington Gas: 800-752-7520
WSSC: 1-800-828-4002

Sign up for AlertMontgomery

Be sure to sign up for “Alert Montgomery” at Alert Montgomery can deliver important emergency alerts, notifications and updates to you. While signing up for Alert Montgomery is free of charge, your wireless carrier may charge you a fee to receive text messages. Check the website FAQ link and your wireless agreement to review your carrier’s pricing information.    

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