Hurricane season starts on June 1st.
June 1st is the start of hurricane season, and the message from the Frederick County Red Cross is "make a plan, build a kit and be informed." Judy Peterson, the Emergency Services Program Manager for the Chesapeake Region of the Red Cross, says it's important for each household to have an emergency kit, containing bottled water, non-perishable food, medications, flashlights a battery-powered radio and other essential items.
While Frederick County is miles away from the shore, where hurricanes make landfall, Peterson says this area has been affected by these types of storms. "Some of the most severe flooding that we've ever had has been remnants of hurricanes that come up the Shenandoah Valley, and they cause flooding along the Potomac River," she says. "And then we get the high winds and the heavy rains from a hurricane that might come ashore on the Eastern Shore."
She also says family members need to know what to do during a disaster, especially when everyone is in different locations. "Don't rely on the fact that if something is going to happen, you're going to be able to call your child, you're going to be able call your spouse," she says. "Make sure they know what to do if they can't get in contact with you." She suggests using text messaging to keep in touch with family members, as land lines or cellphone towers may have been damaged by the storm, or are overloaded with calls.
In addition, Peterson says make arrangements ahead of time on where to stay, in case it become unsafe to remain in your home, or an order has been given to evacuate.
If you think you can weather the storm without any preparations, Peterson reminds us "in the event of emergency, responders are going to be there, but they're going to be there as soon as they can, and it may not be right away. So it's better to prepared. "You are your own first responder. You need to be able to take care of yourself for a certain period of time so the emergency responders can focus on the people who have been injured, for example, and who need critical care right away."
Peterson also suggests you check in on your elderly family members and neighbors, who may not have access to cell phones or computers. "We also suggest to the residents of Frederick County, know who your neighbors are," she says. "That maybe don't have family in the area, maybe their family lives an hour away. What type of assistance might they need in an emergency and check on them."
For more information on how to be prepared in case of an emergency, call the Red Cross Chapter at 301-662-5131, or go on line to www.redcross.org, or www.ready.gov.