Carroll County residents urged to prepare for Hurricane Irene

Carroll County's Office of Emergency Management is warning resident that Carroll is expected to feel the effects of Hurricane Irene beginning Saturday evening and lasting through Sunday.

On its website, the office was noting on Thursday that, "Although conditions and the track of the storm are constantly changing, we encourage our residents to be proactive and prepare ahead of time."

"Carroll County may see heavy rain and high winds that may result in flooding and power outages."

County officials said the Office of Public Safety-Support Services Emergency Management Division is monitoring the storm.

Residents may tune into Carroll County cable channels 19, 23, and 24 for updated information as well as the Community Media Center website.

BGE powering up response teams

Elsewhere, BGE announced Thursday that it had requested approximately 850 external personnel come to the area in advance of the storm.

"BGE proactively requested the assistance of external resources to ensure they would be in place in advance of Hurricane Irene's arrival in Central Maryland Saturday afternoon, enabling BGE to begin restoring electric service as soon as the storm clears and it is safe to do so," A. Christopher Burton, senior vice president of gas and electric operations and planning for BGE said in a release Thursday.

BGE urges customers to visit its online Storm Center for more information on how to approach the coming storm.

Power outages can be reported by calling Bee's automated system at 1-877-778-2222, while downed power lines should be reported immediately to 1-410-685-0123.

Fire safety tips

And State Fire Marshal William Barnard is also cautioning residents when using alternative light and electrical sources during power outages, offering the following tips in the event of a loss of power:

• Use flashlights during power outages instead of candles. Keep fresh batteries on hand.

• If using candles, make sure they are on a stable piece of furniture in sturdy holders that will not tip over. Candles should fit in the holders securely and holders should be made of material that will not burn.

• Keep candles away from items that can catch fire such as; clothing, books, papers, curtains, combustible decorations or anything else that can burn.

• Do not place candles where they can be knocked over by children or pets.

• Always extinguish all candles when leaving the room or before going to sleep.

• Never use candles if medical oxygen therapy is used in the home.

• If you are depending on portable generators for electricity during outages, use caution when refueling. Fuel splashed on a hot muffler could ignite, causing burns and serious injuries.

• Never attempt to refuel a generator while it is running. Always allow the unit to cool before refueling.

SHA monitoring transportation impact

The State Highway Authority has also begun its preparations for the storm, beginning with efforts to aid the evacuation of Ocean City. According to a Thursday SHA release, central and western Maryland maintenance and emergency operations staff are being sent to the Eastern Shore to assist with the evacuation.

In a statement Thursday, acting SHA Administrator Darrell Mobley urged residents to take the storm seriously.

"When in doubt, do not attempt to drive through standing water, even if it appears to be safe," he said. "A few inches of water can quickly turn into a dangerous situation, putting you and your family at risk."

The SHA also issued several other recommendations for the storm. They urged residents not to drive around police or highway personnel who are blocking roads, to stay alert for animals, traffic signals that may be affected by power outages, and to fill their gas tanks in advance of the storm.

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