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Editorial: Preparation for severe weather starts at home

Severe weather has a habit of sneaking up on you. Even with today's modern weather forecasting techniques, a powerful storm can form in just a matter of hours. As we've all seen many times before, high winds, heavy rain, snow — even extreme hot or cold temperatures — can cause flooding; property damage; power outages; and, in rare instances, loss of life.

So, are you prepared for the impact of a severe storm?

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It's the question being asked this week by the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, the state agency that helps coordinate state emergency preparedness policy and coordinates the state response to these disasters and other emergencies. As we enter both National Preparedness and Maryland Preparedness Month, expect to see lots of mentions of this month as the Maryland Emergency Management Agency suggests that every person or organization, from homeowners to businesses to schools and government agencies, prepare for any potential disaster. On Thursday, the Carroll County commissioners are expected to also proclaim this Emergency Preparedness Month locally.

"This is the time for everyone who lives and works in Maryland to learn about potential hazards and what they can do to be prepared," Russ Strickland, executive director of MEMA, said Tuesday in a news release.

The topic comes up each September, the peak month of the hurricane season. Though we're fortunate to have not been hit directly by a hurricane in many years, it just takes "one storm making landfall in the Mid-Atlantic region to cause a major disruption in Maryland," Strickland added.

While large storms such as hurricanes and — in the winter months — snowstorms pack a punch, preparing for weather events is the message we need to consider year round, More likely, it will be that nor'easter storm bringing rain in warmer times and heavy snow in the colder ones. Those are the storms that bring the high winds and precipitation that can lead to flooding, power outages and empty grocery shelves. It doesn't take long memories to recall deep snowstorms that have kept us trapped inside the house or even the derecho that hit Maryland in 2012.

So how do you prepare? Well, MEMA officials are suggesting that everyone keep a disaster supply kit in their homes in case basic services such as electricity, phone and gas are cut off. Make sure it includes items such as flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, a battery operated radio and, of course, nonperishable, ready to eat foods that won't take much to prepare. For a full list, you can go to http://mema.maryland.gov/Pages/DisasterSupplyKit.aspx. It's also common sense that as a storm approaches, keep your TV or radio tuned to local news reports and also, do your best to get your cellphone charged ahead of time.

Remember, the more you can prepare ahead of time the better you'll be in weathering that storm.

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