September is National Preparedness Month, and residents are encouraged to be prepared for severe weather and other emergencies. Currently, Hurricane Earl and Tropical Storm Fiona are tracking northward along the East Coast, but a high pressure system makes it unlikely that these storms will have a significant impact on local weather this weekend. However, with two more months remaining in the 2010 hurricane season, additional storms could still bring high winds, flooding and power outages to the area.
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 regarding weather, severe traffic, schools, park and government facilities, athletic fields and public events; along with the devices they would like the messages sent to (cell phones, text pagers, wireless PDAs, home and work emails).
During severe weather and all other times, residents are reminded to call 9-1-1 only in emergencies that threaten life or property, which includes any type of fire or serious medical condition, when there is fear for personal safety or the safety of others, or during a crime in progress. Calling 9-1-1 for the wrong reason or calling the number inadvertently may keep someone else from getting the help they need. DO NOT call 9-1-1 to ask for directions; check on power, phone, or cable outages; inquire about road or weather conditions; check on the status of school closings; for information about public services; or to report situations that are not emergencies. If you do call by mistake, please stay on the line until the call taker can confirm that you do not require emergency assistance.
To report downed trees (unless live wires are involved, the tree is blocking a roadway, the tree is on a structure, or if persons are trapped under the fallen tree), or for information about non-emergency programs and services, call the County’s new 311 Customer Service Center, which is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. To reach the Customer Service Center, dial 3-1-1 from within the County or 240-777-0311 from outside the County or from a cell phone. The 311 self-service website is available around the clock at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/311 . For non-emergency police assistance, when the 311 Customer Service Center is closed, callers are advised to call the police non-emergency number, 301-279-8000.
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Whenever a hurricane threatens a region within 24-36 hours, a hurricane watch will be issued. A hurricane warning will be issued if hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours or less. Hurricane conditions include winds of 74 miles per hour (64 knots) or greater, and/or dangerously
high tides and waves. Actions to protect life and property should begin whenever a warning is issued.
Hurricane or Tropical Storm Preparedness Tips
• Keep flashlights and battery-powered radios with extra batteries on hand, along with a basic first aid kit, emergency food and water, and a non-electric can opener.
• Listen to the radio or television for hurricane progress reports.
• Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys and garden tools; or anchor objects that cannot be brought inside but that could be wind-tossed.
• Remove outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys and garden tools; or anchor objects that cannot be brought inside but that could be wind-tossed.
• Clean out gutters.
• Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting in anticipation of a power outage. Open the door only when necessary and close quickly.
• Refrain from putting out trash cans the night before the regular pickup.
During Power Outages
• Keep a sufficient supply of flashlights and extra batteries on hand to provide lighting during power outages.
• Avoid using candles for lighting. Use a battery-powered flashlight.
• Never use a candle when fueling equipment such as a kerosene heater or lantern, since the candle flame can ignite fumes from the fuel.
• In anticipation of possible flooding, residents are encouraged to store valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container; and avoid areas subject to flooding, including low spots, canals and streams. Do not attempt to drive over a flooded road – you can be stranded or trapped. The depth of the water and the condition of the road is not always obvious.
Night Time Safety
• Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers, downed wires and other hazards.
• For downed trees on public property, call 3-1-1 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays or go to http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/311 at any time to report the problem.
• Trees that have fallen on private property are the responsibility of the property owner. The County’s Office of Consumer Protection advises homeowners to deal with established businesses
only, and to call Consumer Protection first to check on a business complaint record. Consumer Protection can be reached at 240-777-3636.
For more information about emergency preparedness, go to the County website at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/mcgtmpl.asp?url=/content/PIO/news/preparedness.asp .
Media contact: Donna Bigler, 240-777-6507