The National Weather Service has designated this week as Hurricane Preparedness Week because June is traditionally the start of hurricane and summer storm season. Montgomery County officials are urging residents to take precautions to stay safe, which include heeding storm warnings issued by the National Weather Service and taking shelter when appropriate.
The effects of a hurricane or tropical storm can be far-reaching. Areas impacted directly by a hurricane or tropical storm can be affected by high winds and flooding, especially along waterways and in low-lying areas. Fringe areas of these storms are vulnerable to tornadoes and in-land flooding caused by heavy rain. Hurricane season continues through November.
A hurricane watch is issued if there is a threat of hurricane conditions within 24-36 hours. A warning is issued when hurricane conditions are expected in a specified area in 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 immediately when the warning is issued.
Residents are urged to sign up for Alert Montgomery to receive up-to-date information on hurricane watches and warnings and other storms. Alert Montgomery sign up information is also available online at the County’s Call Center or by calling 311 or 240-777-0311, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Alerts can be sent to one or more electronic devices, including cell phones, text pagers, wireless PDAs, along with home and work emails.
Storm Preparedness Tips
• Keep flashlights, battery-powered radios and 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 weather reports.
• Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys and garden tools; or anchor objects that cannot be brought inside but could be tossed by high winds.
• 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. Frozen food in a half-full freezer will remain safe for up to 24 hours, and in a full freezer, up to 48 hours.
• Refrain from putting out trash cans the night before the regular pickup.
During Power Outages
• Use flashlights and battery-powered lanterns for light and battery-powered radios and computers for storm progress reports and information.
• Avoid using candles to prevent the risk of a fire.
• In anticipation of possible flooding, residents are encouraged to store valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container.
• 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
• Use extra caution at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers, downed wires and other hazards.
• To report downed trees on public property, Montgomery County residents should call 311 (or 240-777-0311 from outside the county or from a cell phone), or file a report. 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.
• 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.
More information about preparing for emergencies is available on the County’s website.
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