Whenever severe weather threatens the region with heavy rain, high wind, tornadoes and flash floods, the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security monitors the weather activities and ensures that County departments and agencies are staffed and ready to act if the storm brings down trees, obstructs roads and creates other problems.
Residents are encouraged to sign up for Alert Montgomery to receive important notifications of weather watches and warnings, along with information about road and facility closures, traffic signal outages and other emergency information. Go to https://alert.montgomerycountymd.gov to sign up for alerts that can be sent to home and work email accounts and text-capable cell phones.
Before a Storm
o Build an Emergency Supply Kit, which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries.
o Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
o Continually monitor the media – Be aware of storms which could impact your area.
o Know how you will be warned in an emergency (NOAA Weather radios with a tone alert are a good option).
o Ensure your home is ready. Bring in outdoor items that could become projectiles in high wind.
During a Storm
o 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.
o Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you. Tornado danger signs included dark, almost greenish sky; large hail; a large, dark, low-lying cloud or a loud roar, similar to a freight train.
o Heed shelter or evacuation requests made by officials or announcements on radio/television.
o Gather family members, bring pets indoors and have your emergency supply kit ready.
o Close outside doors and window blinds, shades or curtains. Stay away from doors, windows and exterior walls. Stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.
o During lightning, do not use wired telephones, touch electrical appliances or use running water. Cordless or cellular telephones are safe to use.
o 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.
o Stay indoors and limit travel to only absolutely necessary trips. Listen to radio/television for updates.
After a Storm
o Stay off roads to allow emergency crews to clear roads and provide emergency assistance.
o Help injured or trapped persons. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury.
o Use the telephone only for emergencies.
o Use care around downed power lines. Assume a downed wire is a live wire.
o Watch out for overhead hazards such as broken tree limbs, wires and other debris.
o Avoid walking into flood waters. The water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewerage, contain downed power lines or animals.
o 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.
o Clean everything that gets wet. For food, medicines and cosmetics; when in doubt, throw it out.
o Make sure backup generators are well ventilated. Never use grills, generators or camping stoves indoors.
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Call 311 (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 mc311.com.