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Keyword: weather

graphic of storm clouds with lightningCaptain Lonnie Ledford, Baltimore County Fire Department

A few weeks ago, in Part 1 of this blog, I covered thunderstorm watches, warnings and a few safety tips. Let’s pick up right where we left off, including some tips that apply just as well to the winter storms that are just around the corner.

Lightning rods attached to structures provide the safest pathway to ground for homes and businesses. If your home does not have one, the current from a lightning strike may travel via the home’s electrical or plumbing systems and could start a fire.  Also, remember to unplug sensitive electrical equipment such as computers and entertainment systems that are susceptible to electrical surges. You should seek shelter when the first rumble of thunder is heard, because if you can hear the thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning.  Also, remain inside for at least one-half hour after the thunder stops. 

Another electrical hazard that may be encountered in a storm is the possibility of downed electrical wires.  DO NOT try to approach or move these wires as there may be a ground current that could be deadly. If in a vehicle, do not try to drive over wires on the ground or under hanging wires near a roadway. Getting within several feet of a downed wire may cause it to arc.  If the wire is arcing or smoking, call 911 to report the hazard.

Downed power lines routinely lead to power outages in an area. Caution should be used when dealing with these situations as well.  Battery powered lights should be used instead of open flame candles and oil lamps due to their inherent fire dangers.  Portable generators produce deadly carbon monoxide gas that can build up and create a toxic atmosphere inside of a structure.  Several fatalities have been attributed to operating portable generators inside or too close to an occupied structure. Also, take care to utilize the proper gauge extension cords with the generator and do not overload them. 

Wind created by a severe thunderstorm can also be deadly.  Loose debris can be blown into the air and cause damage to structures and injure people.  If you do not have permanent mounted and operating shutters on your home, closing the blinds and drapes can provide a slight buffer against debris that may break and enter a window.  A heavy plastic trash bag or a tarp and duct tape should be available as a temporary repair in case of a window being broken during a storm.  Make a list of items that you want to bring inside in case of a severe thunderstorm.  Remember to include items such as plants, pool items, wind-chimes and flags.   Patio furniture, grills and items that are too large to be brought inside or cannot be placed in a garage or shed should be tied down and secured.  If there are large trees on your property they should be trimmed regularly to ensure that there are no dead branches that could be broken and fall in high winds.  Dead trees near a structure should be removed to prevent damage due to being blown over in a storm. 

Flash flooding commonly leads to flooded roadways. NEVER try to drive through standing or moving water. It only takes eighteen inches of water for a vehicle, including trucks and SUV’s, to become buoyant. Moving water can then push the vehicle sideways and it may rollover trapping occupants inside. When in doubt: Turn Around Don’t Drown!

Use easy to understand language to explain the sights and sounds that may be experienced by young children during a thunderstorm.  Once they understand what is making the “loud boom and bright light” outside, it may help reduce their apprehension and anxiety during a storm. 

Lastly, every home should have an emergency plan and an emergency kit that includes at a minimum:

·         enough food and water to last for 72 hours per person

·         a flashlight with spare batteries

·         a battery operated radio or weather radio

Severe weather planning resources can be found at:

·         The National Weather Service


·         Baltimore County’s Emergency Management web site

by Mark Hubbard
Baltimore County Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

For many, September means back-to-school, Fall festivals, and football. For emergency managers, it also means National Emergency Preparedness month or an opportunity to raise awareness about the community-wide threats we face that can make life inconvenient or even a bit dangerous.

As I write this article, we are watching the tropics for the typical hurricane season storms that brew and march across the Atlantic ocean. With a little luck, we hope for a quiet season but we all know that weather is one of our most typical hazards. Just a few months ago, the unexpected derecho storm of June 29 illustrated the impact on our daily lives. Days without power in the middle of Summer heat is not a pleasant situation and can even be deadly.

So what can you do? Preparedness is a team sport consisting of emergency managers and planners, government and volunteer first responders, and businesses and citizens throughout Baltimore County. Weathering the storm can be much easier with some simple steps to plan for prolonged power outages. Generally, having a battery operated portable radio and flashlights as well as storing a gallon of water per person, per day, for three days will help you get through most events. You can lean much more by visiting our web site at: Here you will find preparedness tips and access to our Twitter feed for updates during emergencies. Also, links to the Federal Emergency Management Agency provide planning help for citizens and businesses. When weather or other emergencies do strike, Baltimore County emergency managers provide updates on Twitter @BACOEmergency.

One last thought; Baltimore County officials are actively participating with other Baltimore area governments to work with utility companies to improve storm response to severe power outages and improve communications during the response phase so emergency response teams can better direct efforts to help those communities most severely affected. Please stay tuned for more on this as the meetings progress. And from this emergency manager, thank you for being resilient after the June 29 storms. Despite severe damage and power loss, in my opinion, citizens and communities were better prepared than ever to manage the event. It proves that personal planning works so keep up the good work.


By Maureen Robinson

Public Information Officer, Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services

When you live in Maryland, you’re used to warm weather, but there’s warm weather and then there’s THIS. While for most of us, a heat wave is just a shirt soaking inconvenience, for some it is a very real danger. While heat-related health issues are preventable, too many die every year because they either don’t know or simply ignore easy prevention tips. During times of extreme heat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers some easy to follow guidelines:

  • Drink more fluids (non-alcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor limits your fluid intake or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink in hot weather.
  • Avoid liquids that have alcohol or a lot of sugar – these actually cause you to lose more body fluid.
  • Stay indoors and if at all possible in air-conditioning or visit your local shopping mall or public library.  Even a few hours spent in air-conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
  • Take cool showers or baths, or move to an air-conditioned place to keep cool.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Never leave children or pets in a closed, parked vehicle.
  • Some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:

              - Infants and young children

        - Those aged 65 or older

        - Those that have mental illness

        - Those physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure 

Stay cool, stay safe! 


Revised April 6, 2016