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Emergency Preparedness
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Water and Power Outages

Water and power outages occur fairly frequently. Power outages often are weather-related. Water outages typically are the result of water main breaks and pumping station failure.

The Baltimore City Department of Public Works owns and operates the metropolitan water system serving Baltimore County and its neighboring jurisdictions. The city handles repairs and maintenance of water mains and related infrastructure.

Your Responsibility: Getting Along For Three Days

Every household, business and institution needs an emergency plan for dealing with such outages for up to three days. That is the length of time that most emergency management agencies across the U.S. feel it is reasonable to expect citizens to get along without water or power.

Getting Along Without Water

Families should have enough bottled water on hand at any time to get through a water outage lasting up to 72 hours. According to federal standards, that is at least one gallon per person, per day, for drinking and sanitation. If you are a pet owner, purchase and store extra water for your pets. Count a pet as a person when figuring how much water you need.

If you are an elderly person or a person with disabilities, ask a family member or a friend to purchase extra water for you at the store. Conversely, if you have vulnerable relatives or neighbors, make sure they have extra water. Do not wait until an outage occurs!

A tip for citizens on the municipal water system: During an outage, pour water down your toilet bowl to manually flush it. Consider purchasing additional water strictly for flushing. In the winter time, snow is a great resource during a water outage. Melt snow in large pans on top of the snow, and use the melted snow rather than purchased water to flush your toilets.

FEMA provides useful information about storing water. FEMA also provides information about safe, alternative water sources and how to purify questionable alternative water sources by boiling or chlorinating.

Getting Along Without Power

  • Along with a supply of water, flashlights with extra batteries are essential home emergency supplies. More powerful battery-powered lanterns also are a wise investment. Fire officials strongly discourage the use of candles during a power outage because of the risk of fire.
  • Portable generators are increasingly popular and invaluable during a power outage. But they emit deadly carbon monoxide gas and must be used properly. Never use generators indoors. Always place them at least 15 feet from doors and windows.
  • Some families use dry ice for refrigeration following an outage. Note that Baltimore County does not provide dry ice.
  • Families with members who have power-dependent health needs (oxygen, dialysis, et.al.) should have an emergency plan in place at all times.

After Three Days

After three days, Baltimore County's Office of Emergency Management may provide emergency water supplies or, in the case of a power outage, emergency shelter, to affected residents.

Revised January 3, 2014

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