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Safe Kids Carroll: Be ready for summer weather

Late summer in Maryland can bring some pretty big storms! Thunder, lightning, heavy rain, and even hurricanes can lead to downed trees, power outages, and flooding. Summer also means heat and humidity that can make it dangerous to be outside. Read on for more information on summer weather, how to prepare, and how to stay safe.

Severe storms

Thunderstorms are most likely in the spring and summer, in the afternoon and evening. A severe thunderstorm has wind gusts over 57.5 mph, hail one inch or greater, or a tornado.

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A severe thunderstorm watch means that conditions that are favorable for bad thunderstorms. Prepare for severe weather and listen or watch for weather updates.

A severe thunderstorm warning means that severe weather has been seen by spotters or on radar. Warnings mean there is a serious threat to life and property. Find shelter now!

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Hurricanes

A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that forms over the ocean. It has spiraling winds of 74 mph or more. Maryland’s hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the peak from mid-August to late October. Hurricanes can cause a lot of damage from high winds, heavy rains, and even tornados.

A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours. Prepare for severe weather and listen or watch for weather updates.

A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours. Get ready to shelter in place or evacuate as directed by authorities.

Preparing before a storm

Safe Kids Carroll County wants your family ready for a storm. Here are some tips:

· Go over your emergency plan with your family. Find safe spots in your house without windows or doors, where you can shelter in a storm.

· Keep cell phones charged. Make sure all family members know important numbers, and know how to text. Text messages can be easier to send in an emergency.

· Make sure you have the supplies you need. Start with water (1 gallon per person and pet per day for 3 days), a flashlight, and a radio (a weather radio is best).

· Plan for family members with special needs, like medical equipment that needs electricity. Have back-up power ready.

· Watch TV, listen to the radio, or check online for storm updates.

· Make sure pets and farm animals have a safe place to shelter.

· Keep your cars’ gas tanks filled.

Getting your home ready:

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· Clear your yard of things that could blow around during the storm and damage your home, like grills, bikes, and patio furniture.

· Know how to turn off your power and gas. If you see flooding or downed power lines, smell gas, or you have to leave your home, switch them off.

· Fill sinks and bathtubs with water for washing and flushing toilets in case you lose your water supply.

· Lower the temperature in your refrigerator and freezer to keep food cold if the power goes out.

For more information on storm readiness: emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/

Excessive heat and air quality

Excessive heat means the heat index is very high. The heat index is a measure of how hot it feels in the heat and humidity. Older adults, young children, people who work outside, and people with health conditions are most likely to get sick because of excessive heat.

· An excessive heat outlook or watch means conditions are favorable for excessive heat in the next several days.

· An excessive heat warning means excessive heat index values are forecast for at least two days (daytime highs of 105-110 degrees).

· A heat advisory means higher heat index values are forecast for 1-2 days (daytime highs 100-105 degrees).

To beat the heat:

· Stay cool. Stay out of the sun during peak hours (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.). Wear sunscreen, a hat, and light clothing. If you don’t have air conditioning, visit a library, mall, or another location.

· Stay hydrated. Drink more water than usual, even if you are not thirsty. Eat fruits and vegetables and other light foods. Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks.

· Stay informed. Check local news for alerts and tips. Know the signs of heat-related illness, which include dizziness, weakness, nausea, and fainting or unconsciousness.

By preparing and paying attention to the weather, you can beat the heat, ride out the storm, and have a safe and fun summer!

For more information on heat safety: http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/index.asp

For local information from the Carroll County Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management and the Carroll County Health Department.

Maggie Rauser is the Safe Kids Carroll County Coordinator with the Carroll County Health Department.

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