Baltimore County encourages all citizens, businesses and long-term care facilities to plan for an emergency.
Your preparation starts with three basic supplies:
Flashlights or battery-powered lanterns with extra batteries. Don’t use candles, which pose a fire risk.
Water to last three days. That’s at least one gallon per person, per day, for drinking and sanitation. Store additional water for pets. Local water systems could be unavailable, or water could be contaminated for days after a disaster.
Cellphone charger, cellphone battery pack, and battery-powered radio to receive emergency updates and information.
Other supplies to consider include prescription medicines, pet supplies, baby supplies, copies of personal documents, emergency contact list, toiletry items and spare clothing.
Emergency Supply Kit
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides a comprehensive list of items to include in an emergency supply kit. You should be prepared to spend an extended length of time on your own in the event of a large-scale emergency.
If you take medicine, be sure you have what you need on hand to make it on your own for at least a week. If it is not possible to have a week-long supply of medicines and treatment supplies, keep as much as possible on hand and talk to your pharmacist or doctor about what else you should do to prepare.
Keep a copy of important documents in your emergency kit including a list of prescriptions, medical history, essential phone numbers and information related to equipment or life-saving devices.
FEMA provides a printable list of emergency kit supplies. Here are the most important items:
- Water—at least one gallon per person, per day, for drinking and sanitation
- Non-perishable food
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Keep cell phone and other electronic devices charged.
- Battery-powered or crank radio
- Extra batteries for any assistance devices: motorized wheelchair, hearing aids, personal listening device, etc.
A good home emergency plan includes evacuation planning, family communication, insurance protection, personal documentation protection and animal care.
Businesses need their own disaster plans and a knowledge of available resources. The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) offers a useful emergency resource website for businesses.
Long-Term Care Facilities
Nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other long-term care facilities are exceptionally vulnerable during an emergency. Baltimore County urges these institutions to construct emergency plans and to refine and practice them regularly.
Maryland legislation requires such facilities to develop emergency plans that include, among other things, specific procedures for sheltering in place or evacuating.
The Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is a resource for local long-term care facilities that need guidance with emergency planning. Call us at 410-887-5996.
For emergency planning resources, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website or the Maryland Department of Health website.
If your household includes someone with a disability, you should take additional steps to ensure that your specific needs are addressed in emergency situations.
A Personal Support Network
A support network may include family, friends, personal attendants, neighbors or coworkers. It’s best to have more than one person in your support network at every location where you spend significant amounts of time, such as your home and your place of employment.
Make sure everyone in your support network knows your emergency plans. This includes methods of contact, evacuation routes and location of emergency supplies. If you use medical equipment, show support network members how to operate it.
Interacting with First Responders
Make advance preparations to aid the work of first responders.
Deaf or Hearing Loss
Have a flashlight in each room of the house to facilitate lipreading or signing in the dark.
Keep a pen and paper handy in case you need to communicate with someone who does not understand American Sign Language.
Write an explanation of your needs in advance. For example: “I use American Sign Language, I have a hearing loss and I need an interpreter. I need my (name of device).”
Blind or Vision Loss
If you use a mobility cane, keep an extra in any location where you regularly spend time.
If you have a service animal, include your animal in any evacuation plans. Let first responders know there is a service animal in the home.
If you have a speech disability, consider carrying a laminated personal communication board. This could be one or several small cards containing written messages.
If you use a motorized wheelchair, consider keeping a lightweight, manual chair available as backup.
If you use a mobility cane or walker, keep an extra in any location where you regularly spend time.
Let first responders know the range of your mobility so they know how to help you.
Medications and Supplies
Keep medical alert tags or bracelets and written descriptions of your disability and support needs in case you are unable to describe the situation in an emergency.
If you own pets, they should be part of your emergency plan.
Plan in advance how you will care for your animals in the event of an emergency that may include a water or power outage, or that may require you to leave your home for a period of time.
Nationwide, emergency management officials advise families to prepare to get through the first three days of an emergency on their own.
Food and Supplies
Make sure you have enough food and water to see your pets through this three-day period. You should have on hand at least one gallon of water per person, per day—and count each pet as a person.
If your pet takes medications, make sure you have extra on hand. Also, be sure to have a secure carrier, leash or harness for your pet.
A Place to Stay
Baltimore County Emergency Management will do everything that we can to provide pet sheltering at or near resident shelter locations. However, pets are often kept away from cots and dormitory areas and sometimes cannot be kept on site due to public health reasons. Be sure to have a pet back-up plan in the event that pet sheltering is not provided. Plan in advance to leave pets with friends or family or a boarding facility. Or research hotels and motels that accept pets and where you could stay if you need to evacuate.
County Pet-Friendly Shelter
During certain small-scale emergencies, Baltimore County emergency managers may open a "pet-friendly" shelter for leashed or crated dogs, cats and other pets (excluding exotic pets) weighing less than 80 pounds.
Animals housed at County-run shelters are not allowed to intermingle with human evacuees in order to protect citizens with pet allergies or a fear of animals. They will be housed elsewhere on site, and pet owners will be able to visit and care for them.
Pets at County shelters require the following:
A leash and a carrier or crate.
Pet identification, including license and rabies tag. County law requires a pet license. For ID, consider microchipping.
The pet's immunization and medical records. County Animal Services requires these.
Contact information and a photo of you and your pet.
At least three days' worth of food and plenty of extra water.
Extra medications, if your pet takes them.
Pet sanitation supplies.
Many renters do not have renter’s insurance to cover the loss of their belongings in case of a fire or other emergency—even though renter’s insurance is inexpensive, sometimes as little as $10 or $15 a month. Many renters mistakenly assume that their belongings are covered under the landlord's insurance policies. This is not so. Renters must insure the value of their own possessions. For more information about renter's insurance, visit the Maryland Insurance Administration or speak to your local insurance provider.
Residents who live in flood-prone areas need to purchase flood insurance. Homeowner's policies do not cover flood damage. The National Flood Insurance Program provides flood insurance. To learn more or purchase a flood policy, visit floodsmart.gov.
During a major emergency, emergency responders may advise you to shelter in place or evacuate. Make sure you understand these terms and follow emergency managers' instructions.
Shelter in Place
Shelter in place simply means, "Stay home." In situations involving a hazardous materials release, you may be asked literally to "seal" your home.
Your natural instinct may be to flee in an emergency. But emergency planners in our region say they are more likely to recommend sheltering in place—staying home—than evacuating because that is the appropriate response for the kinds of disasters most likely to happen here.
Baltimore County does not have established evacuation routes. Precise evacuation routes will depend on the nature and location of the emergency.
Monitor TV and radio news for instructions from local authorities; keep a battery-powered radio in your home or business so you can receive instructions during a power outage. Prepare an evacuation plan.
During hurricanes, state and local emergency managers have worked together to determine hurricane evacuation zones as a part of the Know Your Zone program. Visit MEMA's website to see if you have a pre-assigned evacuation zone for tropical weather evacuations.
Note: Areas outside of the zones could still be evacuated. Stay tuned to emergency officials and make sure you are signed up for emergency alerts just in case you are added to an evacuation.
The following resources are available to help you prepare for an emergency:
Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)
MEMA provides a wealth of emergency preparedness and response information for Marylanders.
Red Cross Guide for People with Disabilities
The Red Cross's family preparedness site includes a detailed section on persons with disabilities.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (National Weather Service)
The National Weather Service offers safety information for a wide range of specific emergencies.
American Veterinary Medical Association
The American Veterinary Medical Association provides preparedness information for pets and other domestic animals.