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    Resources: Storms


    Extreme weather, such as hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, and more, can lead to significant injury and loss of life. While we know when some severe weather is coming, some disasters strike without warning. That's why preparing in advance is more important than ever.

    Fact Sheets

    ​Frequently Asked Questions

    Explore the sections below to learn more about how to stay safe during extreme weather.​​​​

    What should I do during a severe thunderstorm?



    • When thunder roars, go indoors! If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance of lightning. Seek shelter. Do not stand under a tall tree.
    • Wait 30 minutes after the last thunder clap before leaving your shelter.
    • If you are in/on the water, seek land immediately.
    • When your hair stands on end, lightning is about to strike. Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself a small target and minimize your contact with the ground. Do ​not lie flat on the ground.
    • If someone is struck by lightning, call 911! Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge. Check their breathing, heartbeat, and pulse.


    • Unplug appliances and turn off the air conditioner.
    • Do not use electronic equipment, like corded phones or computers.
    • Do not wash your hands, take a bath or shower, do laundry, or wash dishes.

    Information adopted from the National Fire Protection Association. For more information, visit http://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Seasonal-fires/Lightning​

    What should I do to prepare for a hurricane?


    A hurricane is a tropical cyclone with sustained winds of more than 74 miles per hour. If a hurricane is predicted to strike where you live, follow these precautions:

    • Update your emergency supply kit:
      • ​A three-day supply of non-perishable foods.
      • One gallon of water per person per day.
      • A supply of prescription medications.
      • Important documents.
    • ​Update your family communications plan.
    • Know the elevation level of your home in case of coastal flooding.
    • Know your evacuation route.
    • Secure your home and cover doors and windows with plywood.
    • Fill your bathtub and buckets with water for sanitation.
    • Turn your refrigerator to its coldest setting.
    • Turn off utilities if instructed by authorities.
    • Turn off propane tanks.
    • Charge your phone and emergency electronics.

    Information adopted from
    Weather Underground. For more information, visit the National Hurricane Center at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/ready.php​​

    What should I do during a hurricane?


    • Stay away from the coast.
    • Listen to local radio and TV reports about the storm. 
    • Stay informed with text alerts from the Maryland Department of Emergency Management. Text MdReady to 211-MD1 (211-631). ​ 
    • Save your phone battery. Use it only during an emergency.
    • Follow all directions from your local emergency officials. If you are ordered to evacuate, evacuate. 
    Information adopted from Weather Underground. For more information, visit the National Hurricane Center at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/ready.php​​​​​​​

    What should I do during an earthquake?


    • Drop where you are onto your hands and knees.
    • Cover your head and neck with one arm and hand.
      • If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath for shelter.
      • If there is no shelter close by, crawl next to an interior wall (away from windows and heavy objects that could topple on you).
      • Stay crouched. Bend over to protect your vital organs.
    • Hold on until the shaking stops.
      • Under a shelter: hold on with one hand and be ready to move if your shelter shifts.
      • No shelter: hold on to your head and neck with both arms and hands.

    What NOT to do:
    • DO NOT get in a doorway! Doorways are no safer and do not protect you from flying or falling objects. It is much better to get under a table.
    • DO NOT run outside! With the ground moving, you can easily fall or be injured by glass and debris. You are much safer inside the building and under a table.
    • DO NOT believe in the "triangle of life." This widely distributed report, encouraging a person to get next to a table rather than under it, has been widely discredited by experts. 

    Information adopted from the Great ShakeOut. For more information, visit 

    What should I do during a flood? What is a flash flood watch/warning?


    • Turn Around, Don't Drown! NEVER drive through a flooded roadway. The water could be deeper than you think.
    • Just six inches of moving water can knock you down. One foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away!
    • Do not drive on a bridge over fast-moving floodwaters. The foundation may be weakened and make the bridge unstable.
    • During a flash flood warning, move immediately to higher ground.
    • If floodwaters rise around your car, but the water is not moving, abandon the car and move to higher ground. DO NOT leave your car and enter moving water.
    • Listen to radio and TV reports about the weather. 
    • Bring in outdoor furniture. Move important indoor items to the highest floor possible.
    • Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electronics if you are wet or standing in water.

    Flood watch:
    "Be aware." Conditions could lead to flooding in your area.
    Flood warning: "Take action!" Flooding is either happening now or will happen shortly. 

    ​Information adopted from Ready.gov. For more information, visit https://www.ready.gov/floods​​

    What should I do to recover from a flood?


    • Only return home when authorities say it is safe.
    • Watch for debris. Floodwaters can erode roads and walkways.
    • Do not attempt to drive through flooded roadways.
    • Avoid standing water. It could be electrically charged from downed power lines.
    • Photograph damage of your property for insurance purposes.
    • Watch for animal- or insect-related hazards. Sometimes displaced animals can be found inside a flooded building.

    For more information about returning home after a flood, view our fact sheet.

    Information adopted from Ready.gov. For more information, visit https://www.ready.gov/floods​​

    What should I do during a wildfire?


    • Have a go-bag with important medications, documents, clothes, and more in case you need to evacuate.
    • Remove outdoor furniture and door mats to prevent ember ignitions.
    • Remove portable propane tanks from outside.
    • Know how to turn off the gas to your home. Turn it off if instructed by local authorities.
    • Place a ladder against your home (for Fire Department use).
    • Connect your garden hoses (for Fire Department use).
    • Close windows, doors, and garage doors. Close vehicle windows.

    Information adopted from the National Fire Protection Association. For more information, visit 

    What should I do to recover from a fire?


    After a fire, contact your local Office of Emergency Management for information about downed/damaged trees and power lines.

    Notify your Local Health Department if fire retardant is in ponds, streams, or near wells.

    Contact your insurance agent to assist you with claims from smoke and fire damage to your home.

    Information adopted from the National Fire Protection Association. For more information, visit http://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Wildfire​​

    What should I do during a tornado?


    • ​During a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately!
    • Move to a small, interior, windowless room on the lowest level - preferably a basement or storm cellar. Move away from corners, windows, doors, or outside walls. A closet or interior hallway would also work.
    • Get under a sturdy table and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands. Cover your body with heavy coats or blankets, pillows, or anything else you can find.
    • Do not open the windows.
    • Mobile homes, even if tied down, do not offer protection from tornadoes. Seek sturdy shelter immediately.
    • If you are outside with no shelter:
      • Get into your vehicle and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is hit with flying debris, pull over and park.
      • Take cover in a stationary vehicle. Put on the seat belt and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat, or anything else you can find.
      • DO NOT get under an overpass or bridge. Find a low, flat location instead.
      • Never try to outrun a tornado in an urban or congested area. 

    Information adopted from Ready.gov. For more information, visit 

    What should I do during a winter storm?


    • Stay indoors.
    • Drive only if absolutely necessary. If you must drive:
      • Travel during the day.
      • Don't travel alone.
      • Tell others your schedule and route.
      • Stay on main roads. Avoid back road shortcuts.
    • Walk carefully on snowy, icy walkways.
    • Use caution when shoveling snow. Overexertion can cause a heart attack. Take breaks and push snow instead of lifting if possible.
    • Keep dry. Change wet clothing to prevent loss of body heat.
    • Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing.
    • Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
    • Wear a hat and cover your mouth and nose with a scarf.

    Information adopted from Ready.gov. For more information, visit