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Maryland Severe Storms Awareness Week Set For April 5-9

New MDReady WebApp Will Debut as MEMA, National Weather Service Focus on Spring Storm Hazard Preparation, Urge Marylanders to Practice Tornado Drill

REISTERSTOWN, MD (April 6, 2021) — Maryland residents are invited to practice what to do in a tornado as part of Severe Storms Awareness Week, April 5-9, 2021. The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) also is launching a new mobile website application during the week. The MdReady WebApp replaces the existing Maryland Prepares App and provides instant access to a wide array of emergency notifications and preparedness information to Marylanders and visitors alike. To install the new WebApp, users can visit MdReady.maryland.gov and follow the prompt to easily add the MdReady shortcut to their mobile device’s home screen.

Severe Storms Awareness Week is taking place during the month of April, which Governor Hogan has proclaimed as Maryland’s Flood Awareness Month. During Severe Storms Awareness Week in Maryland, MEMA will devote special days to cover information about flooding, damaging winds, tornadoes, hail and lightning.

On Wednesday, April 7, Marylanders are invited by MEMA and the National Weather Service (NWS) to practice what to do in the event of a tornado. Because people’s routines have been changed due to the ongoing pandemic, people are asked to review their emergency weather plans and ensure they consider the implications of COVID-19.

“The pandemic has not only changed the daily routine for many of us, but it also has changed how we prepare for emergencies,” said MEMA Executive Director Russ Strickland. “Severe Storms Awareness Week is not only a chance to review what we need to do to prepare for spring weather hazards, but also to highlight that COVID-19 is now part of our preparations.”

As part of pandemic precautions, Marylanders should include additional supplies like extra face coverings, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant in their emergency supply kits. It’s also important to remember that if evacuations and shelters are needed that distancing and other public health precautions may alter what facilities are used and how far away they might be away from one’s home.

“The majority of Maryland’s weather-related damage comes from thunderstorms and tornadoes,” said James E. Lee, Meteorologist in Charge of the NWS Baltimore/Washington Weather Forecast Office (WFO). “The NWS Baltimore/Washington WFO typically identifies hazardous weather threats minutes in advance, then immediately issues severe weather warnings.  It is vital that Marylanders receive our warnings and rapidly respond to get out of harm’s way. Maryland Severe Storms Awareness Week reminds people to develop a response plan, then practice the plan during the tornado drill.”

While Marylanders are encouraged to practice a tornado drill at any time that day the NWS will issue a Special Weather Statement on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios about the tornado drill at 9:45 a.m. April 7 — but without the high-pitched tones associated with an actual tornado warning. The NWS Baltimore/Washington Weather Forecast Office, which covers most Maryland jurisdictions is coordinating this statement and drill in conjunction with their colleagues at NWS Mount Holly (PA), which covers Caroline, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties, and NWS Wakefield (VA) which handles Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties.

To find more preparedness information for severe storms and other hazards, please visit the following websites: https://mema.maryland.gov/Pages/types-of-emergencies.aspxhttps://www.weather.gov/safety/, or www.ready.gov.

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CONTACT:
Jorge Castillo, jorge.castillo@maryland.gov, 443-381-3518
Ed McDonough, ed.mcdonough@maryland.gov, 410-446-3333
24/7 line: 877-636-2872


Governor Hogan Proclaims April 2021 as Maryland Flood Awareness Month

REISTERSTOWN, Md. (April 1, 2021) — Governor Larry Hogan, today, proclaimed the first Maryland Flood Awareness Month.  Maryland Flood Awareness Month will run from April 1 to April 30, 2021.  Every year, floods in Maryland kill more residents and destroy more property than any other natural hazard.

The frequency and intensity of storms are expected to increase over time.  Recent predictions suggest that flooding in normally dry areas is likely in the future. This could mean deeper flooding, floods moving further inland, and more damage from storms.  This is not only a potential danger for coastal Maryland but for all communities in Maryland.

The Hogan Administration is joining with the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, the Maryland Insurance Administration, the Maryland Department of Planning, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Department of Transportation, the Maryland Environmental Service, the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, and the Maryland Association of Floodplain and Stormwater Managers to encourage all Marylanders to learn more about the different flood hazards faced by individuals and communities across the state.

“Our Administration is dedicated to working with our state, local and federal partners to assist Marylanders to become aware of their risk and take steps to protect themselves from the risk,” said Governor Larry Hogan.

Maryland Flood Awareness Month will raise awareness about the many flood hazards faced by individuals and communities across the state and provide information on what Marylanders can do to protect themselves, their property and possessions, their finances, and communities.  The Maryland Resiliency Partnership will work with a variety of public and private partners to help educate the public around three key messages as they relate to different flood hazards: know your risk, reduce your risk, insure your risk.

Throughout the month of April, information and activities will focus on these three key messages as they relate to each week’s theme:

  1. Individuals preparing for the impacts of flooding;
  2. Riverine flooding and flooding outside the regulatory floodplain;
  3. Coastal hazards (storm surge, nuisance flooding, sea level rise, erosion, subsidence, and flooding outside the regulatory floodplain);
  4. Urban and flash flooding, dam break, and flooding outside the regulatory floodplain; and
  5. Communities preparing for the impacts of flooding.

During the month of April, these agencies will be sharing information on their social media platforms; hosting virtual events to engage in conversations about flooding; and providing digital resources on the Maryland Resiliency Partnership website.

Additional information about Flood Awareness Month can be found on the Maryland Resiliency Partnership website (resiliencypartnership.com).

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CONTACT:
Jorge Castillo, jorge.castillo@maryland.gov, 443-381-3518
Ed McDonough, ed.mcdonough@maryland.gov, 410-446-3333
24/7 line: 877-636-2872


MEMA Reminds Marylanders of COVID-19 Rumor Control Page

Updated Site Will Make it Easier to Find Accurate Information and Report Rumors About Pandemic, COVID-19 Vaccination

REISTERSTOWN, Md. (March 8, 2021) — The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) today unveiled a revamped and redesigned rumor control page that will help visitors more easily find accurate information related to the pandemic and COVID-19 vaccinations. It will also allow users to quickly check the accuracy of potential disinformation, misinformation, and rumors. The web address for the new page is bit.ly/Md-Covid19-Rumors.

Visitors to the site will have three choices. They could click on “Vaccine Rumors” to visit the site’s section addressing rumors and misinformation related specifically to the COVID-19 vaccination. Or, they could click on “Virus Rumors” and visit the area of the site devoted to general SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 pandemic rumors. Lastly, they could submit a rumor they have seen or heard by clicking the “Submit a Rumor” button.

“We are aware of the increased volume of inaccurate information regarding the COVID-19 vaccination and are hopeful that the redesigned rumor control page will continue to provide Marylanders with reliable and unambiguous information,” said MEMA Executive Director Russ Strickland. “With public interest focused on the COVID vaccinations, it is a good opportunity to remind Marylanders and visitors to our state about the information resources available to them during this important time.”

The original pandemic rumor control page was unveiled last spring to help provide a centralized location for residents to check the accuracy of information they may have heard or read. The MEMA team worked with the Maryland Department of Health and used information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other trusted experts to provide accurate information.

The rumor control page concept was created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a way to combat rumors or intentional misinformation related to disasters and their recovery programs. MEMA has been using rumor control pages and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages to address rumors and common misinformation for several years.

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CONTACT:
Erik Wescoat, erik.wescoat@maryland.gov, 443-381-4536
Jorge Castillo, jorge.castillo@maryland.gov, 443-381-3518
Ed McDonough, ed.mcdonough@maryland.gov, 410-446-3333
24/7 line: 877-636-2872


MEMA Secures $19.3 Million to Prepare for and Reduce Risks of Hazards, Disasters, Terrorist Attacks

Grants to Fund Projects that Continue Building Resilience and All-Hazard Preparedness in Maryland

REISTERSTOWN, Md. (March 5, 2021) — The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) announced today that it will receive a combined total of $19,331,363 for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 from the Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP), the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), and the Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) Program.  The HSGP, NSGP, and EMPG are the three programs that constitute the DHS/FEMA focus on enhancing the ability of state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from disasters and terrorist attacks.

Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP)

Ensuring the safety of Marylanders is a top State priority. MEMA has been awarded $11,595,897 for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 in order to prepare State and local communities for terrorist attacks. The award is part of the Homeland Security Grants Program, which will provide $1,120,000,000 nationwide to recipients to improve their ability to prepare for, prevent, and respond to terrorist attacks.  This grant will fund capability building at the state and local government level by enhancing planning, training, and exercising for terrorist attacks and improving emergency managers’ response.

Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP)

The Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) awards total $1.2 million for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021.  The awards provide funding for physical security enhancements and other security-related activities to nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of a terrorist attack. The NSGP also seeks to integrate the preparedness activities of nonprofit organizations with broader state and local preparedness efforts.

Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) Program.

MEMA has been awarded $6,535,466 for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 to be used for assisting state, local, tribal, and territorial emergency management agencies to implement the National Preparedness System (NPS) and to support the National Preparedness Goal of a secure and resilient nation. The  Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) award is one of the grant programs that constitute DHS/FEMA’s focus on all-hazards emergency preparedness. These grant programs are part of a comprehensive set of measures authorized by Congress and implemented by DHS.

Collectively these critical funds support MEMA’s mission to proactively reduce disaster risks and reliably manage consequences through collaborative work with Maryland’s communities and partners and MEMA’s vision to shape a resilient Maryland where communities thrive.

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CONTACT:
Jorge Castillo, jorge.castillo@maryland.gov, 443-381-3518
Ed McDonough, ed.mcdonough@maryland.gov, 410-446-3333
24/7 line: 877-636-2872


Maryland Receives Highest Honor in Emergency Management

REISTERSTOWN, Md. (March 1, 2021) — The State of Maryland joins Arkansas and Washoe County, NV. as the three jurisdictions to have earned the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) distinction in 2021.

“We are thrilled and extremely proud of this accomplishment,” said Russ Strickland, Executive Director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). “This accreditation shows our commitment to our field, to keeping Marylanders safe, and to shaping a more resilient Maryland where communities thrive.”

The EMAP Accreditation is awarded to programs that have built and sustained a set of Emergency Management capabilities over a period of years. MEMA remains among the elite leaders in emergency management by earning accreditation through the EMAP. “Receiving this accreditation is a high honor and I want to congratulate everyone at MEMA for this distinction,” continued Strickland. “But to earn it during a pandemic that has tested and tried us, shows the real character of the individuals in Emergency Management and our administration’s commitment to the safety, wellbeing, and resilience of our state and all Marylanders.”

To earn accreditation programs must show continued leadership to the field of Emergency Management by proving through its commitment and leadership that their programs are sustainable and focus on their communities’ and stakeholders’ best interests. MEMA had to demonstrate through self-assessment, peer assessment, and documentation verification, that its program meets the Emergency Management Standard certified by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) and recognized by the industry.

MEMA and other Emergency Management programs use the accreditation to prove the capabilities of their disaster preparedness and response systems. These programs demonstrate accountability and focus attention on areas and issues where resources are needed to heighten their preparedness efforts to any technical or natural disaster that may affect their communities. The program must maintain compliance with the Emergency Management Standard and is then reassessed to maintain accredited status. MEMA received accreditation in 2007, 2014, and 2021.

To learn more about EMAP visit their website at emap.org.

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CONTACT:
Jorge Castillo, jorge.castillo@maryland.gov, 443-381-3518
Ed McDonough, ed.mcdonough@maryland.gov, 410-446-3333
24/7 line: 877-636-2872


Maryland to Appeal Denial of Inaugural Presidential Emergency Declaration

Seeks Reimbursement for Costs Related To Emergency and Safety Measures 

Reisterstown, MD (February 12, 2021)—Governor Larry Hogan today announced that Maryland has appealed the federal denial of a request for a Presidential Emergency Declaration to reimburse Maryland agencies for expenses related to the inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. in January. The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) sent an appeal through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for costs during the period of Jan. 6-21.

“The State of Maryland and several of our jurisdictions were proud to support the peaceful transition of power,” said Gov. Hogan. “We did not hesitate to provide critical support during the January 6 insurrection, and hope that our partners at FEMA will work with us to recoup these expenses.”

The former administration denied Maryland’s request on January 17 and also denied a similar request from the Commonwealth of Virginia. The request covers costs incurred within Maryland, including the staging of law enforcement units to respond into Washington, D.C. if needed and also to secure Annapolis due to threats of nationwide violence at state capitals, along with traffic control measures and the opening of emergency operations centers. The request does not include emergency personnel working in the District under mutual aid agreements since these costs were captured by the District of Columbia, or Maryland National Guard troops in D.C., who were operating under federal orders.

“It has been a long 12 months for many of those involved in the inauguration efforts,” said MEMA Executive Director Russ Strickland. “The ongoing pandemic, several weather incidents, and the riots at the Capitol have stressed many of our agencies. It is important that the federal government recognize this effort, which helped to keep many of their facilities secure.”

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CONTACT:
Jorge Castillo, jorge.castillo@maryland.gov, 443-381-3518
Ed McDonough, ed.mcdonough@maryland.gov, 410-446-3333
24/7 line: 877-636-2872


State of Maryland Awarded Over $341 Million Grant for COVID-19 Response

Funds to be used to Reimburse the State for Medical Supplies Purchased during the Pandemic Response

REISTERSTOWN, Md. (January 22, 2020) — The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) announced today that the state of Maryland will receive a $341 million federal grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) associated with COVID-19.  This award provides funding to the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) for personal protective equipment (PPE) purchased to support the state’s healthcare workers and first responders. This grant, administered through MEMA’s Public Assistance program, was awarded as a result of the Presidential Disaster Declaration issued in March 2020 under the Robert T. Stafford Act.

“This much needed federal aid will allow the Maryland Department of Health to recoup expenses related to Covid-19 from January 20 through July 27, 2020,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “We are very pleased to have received this award which contributes immensely to our continued fight against this disease.”

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic created an immediate threat to the public health and safety of the State of Maryland, requiring emergency protective measures. In response, MEMA and MDH conducted emergency protective measures consisting of providing management, control, and reduction of immediate threats through purchase and distribution of PPE needed for the COVID-19 statewide response.

Since the start of the pandemic, emergency managers have worked hand-in-hand with public health officials to provide necessary supplies, personnel, and other resources to respond to the challenges associated with COVID-19. This announcement is a demonstration of the important partnerships between local, state, and federal agencies as they work to respond and recover from COVID-19.


Governor Larry Hogan Declares State of Emergency For Presidential Inauguration, Requests Presidential Disaster Declaration

State Seeks Federal Assistance for Security, Other Resources Related to D.C. Riots, Presidential Inauguration

ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan has issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency related to the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. This executive action will allow the state to more efficiently coordinate support and provide assistance to local jurisdictions within Maryland and neighboring states.

The governor has also asked the White House for a Presidential Disaster Declaration to reimburse state and local governments in Maryland for costs incurred by their response to last week’s insurrection at the Capitol, as well as support to federal partners and the District of Columbia for the days leading up to, and including, the inaugural ceremonies. 

“The State of Maryland will continue to do everything we possibly can to secure our nation’s capital and to ensure the peaceful transition of power,” said Governor Hogan. “We did not hesitate to provide critical support during the January 6 insurrection, and will continue to work closely with allied agencies, local governments, and our federal partners to support the Inaugural Ceremonies.” 

In his letter to the administration, Governor Hogan is also requesting that the cost share typically required by the Stafford Act be waived due to the inauguration’s nature as a federal event, as well as the fiscal impact on the state from several recent disasters, most notably the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the state of emergency declaration, Governor Hogan has authorized the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and all other appropriate state authorities to deploy and coordinate available resources in support of local jurisdictions and the citizens of Maryland, and to activate their emergency preparedness plans. It also allows Maryland to receive assistance from other states as part of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.

On January 11, Governor Hogan joined D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam in advising residents not to come into Washington, D.C. for the inauguration and to instead participate virtually.

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Comienza la Segunda Semana Anual de Seguridad en el Invierno de Maryland

MEMA, FEMA, el Servicio Meteorológico Nacional y las agencias estatales se asocian para aumentar la conciencia del público sobre los peligros del invierno

REISTERSTOWN, Md. (7 de diciembre, 2020) — A medida que comienza la temporada de invierno con la pandemia que afecta nuestras actividades diarias, la Agencia de Manejo de Emergencias de Maryland (MEMA por sus siglas en inglés) se une a socios estatales, locales y federales para alentar a todos los residentes de Maryland a aprender más sobre la seguridad invernal y la importancia de la preparación para emergencias invernales en la era COVID-19. La segunda Semana Anual de Seguridad en el Invierno de Maryland (Maryland Safety Week) se lleva a cabo del 7 al 13 de diciembre de 2020.

A lo largo de la semana, MEMA compartirá información en sus plataformas sociales, incluyendo videos grabados del Gobernador Hogan, la Oficina del Jefe de Bomberos del Estado de Maryland y una discusión de video en vivo con MEMA y el Servicio Meteorológico Nacional (NWS por sus siglas en inglés).

“Ahora no es el momento de bajar la guardia”, dijo Russ Strickland, director ejecutivo de MEMA. “La temporada de invierno trae consigo varios peligros que causan lesiones y que cuestan vidas y dinero cada año, pero 2020 es diferente. COVID-19 hace que todo sea más complicado además de otras consideraciones a tomar durante los meses fríos. Todos estamos agotados por esta pandemia, pero es precisamente por eso que debemos tomar en serio las precauciones de seguridad en invierno ”.

Este año, MEMA insta a todos los residentes de Maryland a tomar precauciones adicionales debido al COVID-19 y a seguir todas las recomendaciones del Departamento de Salud de Maryland (MDH por sus siglas en inglés) y los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC por sus siglas en inglés) con respecto a cubrirse el rostro, distanciarse y prácticas de higiene. Cuando sea posible, salga a tomar aire fresco y haga ejercicio. Asegúrese de tener suministros para la pandemia como cubiertas adicionales para la cara, desinfectante de manos y desinfectante como parte de sus kits de suministros tanto en su casa como en su automóvil.

Entre los diversos peligros que trae el clima invernal se encuentran los riesgos para la salud que plantea la exposición sostenida al frío extremo. Puede bajar la temperatura corporal, debilitar el sistema inmunológico y puede agravar enfermedades crónicas como asma, artritis, diabetes, enfermedades cardiovasculares y pulmonares y enfermedades mentales, entre otras. Un informe de 2014 de los CDC indicó que de las casi 11,000 muertes relacionadas con el clima informadas a nivel nacional entre 2006 y 2010, el 63 por ciento se atribuyó al frío natural excesivo.

Miles de personas también corren riesgo en el interior de sus hogares si se les corta la energía o si no tienen los medios económicos para aumentar la temperatura en su hogar. Para aquellos con enfermedades crónicas, un interior frío puede ser un entorno peligroso. Los casos de exposición al monóxido de carbono alcanzan su punto máximo durante el invierno, cuando es más probable que las personas utilicen generadores, estufas y sistemas de calefacción domésticos que pueden no recibir el mantenimiento adecuado. Si no es seguro hacer funcionar una cortadora de césped a gas o un automóvil en un espacio determinado, tampoco es seguro hacer funcionar un generador portátil.

MEMA y otras agencias estatales han recopilado una serie de consejos de seguridad y preparación para el invierno que se compartirán durante la Semana de la Seguridad en el Invierno de Maryland y durante la temporada de invierno a través de nuestros canales de redes sociales. Éstos son algunos de los aspectos más destacados:

  • Cuando llega el clima frío, debe verificar el bienestar de la familia, los amigos y los vecinos que son particularmente vulnerables al frío, la nieve y el hielo; esto puede incluir a los ancianos y aquellos con necesidades funcionales y de acceso.
  • Ciertos peligros de incendio son comunes durante el invierno. La Oficina del Jefe de Bomberos del Estado le recuerda que practique la seguridad al calentar su hogar o lugar de trabajo, tenga cuidado al cocinar y asegúrese de que las luces y decoraciones navideñas se usen correctamente.
  • Prepare un kit de emergencia para el hogar que incluya suministros para el invierno, como palas de nieve, productos para derretir hielo, ropa y mantas extra abrigadas, linternas y baterías. También incluye suministros adicionales de COVID-19.
  • Siga una fuente meteorológica confiable, como el Servicio Meteorológico Nacional y los medios de comunicación locales, para estar al tanto de cualquier precipitación congelada pronosticada o temperaturas frías severas.
  • La Administración de Carreteras del Estado del Departamento de Transporte de Maryland ofrece estos consejos para una conducir seguramente en invierno.
  • Asegúrese de que su vehículo esté listo para viajar en invierno
    • Revise y prepare su vehículo para el invierno, incluidos todos los líquidos, limpiaparabrisas, luces y sistemas antes de que comience la temporada de invierno.
    • Tenga un kit de emergencia para el automóvil en su vehículo y agregue algunos suministros de COVID-19.
    • Tener un equipo de emergencia para el automóvil puede ser la diferencia entre sobrevivir a una tormenta invernal severa o una ventisca y sufrir de una congelación o, peor aún, morir.
  • Mantenga su tanque de gasolina casi lleno para evitar hielo en el tanque y las líneas de combustible.
  • Identifique a su mascota con etiquetas de nombre y etiquetas de rabia actualizadas; incluya su número de teléfono celular en la etiqueta. O bien, su mascota puede tener un microchip, y la mayoría de los veterinarios o agencias de control de animales pueden escanear el chip para ayudar a localizar al dueño.
  • Aísle su casa instalando contraventanas o cubriendo las ventanas con plástico desde el interior para mantener el aire frío afuera.
  • Deje la calefacción encendida en su casa y ajuste el termostato a no menos de 50° Fahrenheit si se va a ir durante el clima frío.
  • Considere usar velas sin llama que funcionen con baterías. ¡Se ven y huelen reales!

Puede encontrar información adicional sobre la preparación para el invierno en nuestro sitio web (www.mema.maryland.gov), nuestro feed de Twitter, nuestra página de Facebook, nuestra página de LinkedIn y nuestro sitio de YouTube.

NOTA PARA LOS MEDIOS: El personal de MEMA está disponibles para entrevistas sobre tormentas de invierno y preparación para emergencias.

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CONTACTOS:
Jorge Castillo, jorge.castillo@maryland.gov, 443-381-3518
Ed McDonough, ed.mcdonough@maryland.gov, 410-446-3333
Línea 24/7: 877-636-2872


Second Annual Maryland Winter Safety Week Begins

MEMA, FEMA, National Weather Service, State Agencies Partner to Increase Public’s Awareness of Winter Hazards

REISTERSTOWN, Md. (December 7, 2020) —As the winter season begins with the pandemic affecting our day-to-day activities, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is joining with state, local and federal partners  to encourage all Marylanders to learn more about winter safety and the importance of winter emergency preparedness in the COVID-19 era. The 2nd Annual Maryland Winter Safety Week runs from December 7 through December 13, 2020.

“Our administration, with our partners of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, the Maryland State Highway Administration, the Maryland State Police, the Maryland Department of Health, and the National Weather Service are working together to bring awareness to all Marylanders about winter safety,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “This year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to  navigate this winter season safely.”

Throughout the week MEMA will be sharing information on their social platforms, including recorded videos from Governor Hogan, the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal, and a live video discussion with MEMA and the National Weather Service.

“Now is not the time to let our guard down,” said Russ Strickland, MEMA’s Executive Director. “Winter season brings with it several hazards that cost injuries, lives, and money every year, but 2020 is different. COVID-19 makes everything more complicated on top of other considerations to be taken during the cold months. We are all exhausted by this pandemic, but it is precisely because of it that we must take winter safety precautions seriously.”

This year, MEMA urges all Marylanders to take extra precautions because of COVID-19 and to follow all recommendations from the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding face coverings, distancing, and hygiene practices. When possible, go outside for fresh air and exercise. Make sure to have pandemic supplies like extra face coverings, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant as part of you supply kits in both your home and car.

Among the several hazards that winter weather brings are the health risks posed by sustained exposure to extreme cold. It can lower body temperature, weakening the immune system, and it can aggravate chronic diseases like asthma, arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular and lung disease, and mental illness, among others.  A 2014 report from the CDC stated that of the nearly 11,000 weather-related deaths reported nationally between 2006 and 2010, 63 percent were attributable to excessive natural cold.

Thousands of people are also at risk indoors if their power has been shut off, or they do not have the financial means to increase the temperature in their home.  For those with chronic diseases,  a cold interior may be a dangerous environment. Cases of carbon monoxide exposure peak during the winter, when people are more likely to use generators, stoves, and home heating systems that may not be properly maintained. If it is unsafe to  run a gas lawnmower or a car in a given space, it is also unsafe to run a portable generator.

MEMA and other state partners have gathered a number of winter preparedness and safety tips that will be shared throughout Maryland Winter Safety Week and the winter season through our social media channels. Here are some of the highlights:

  • When cold weather hits, you should check on the welfare of family, friends, and neighbors who are particularly vulnerable to cold, snow, and ice – this may include the elderly and those with access and functional needs.
  • Certain fire hazards are common during the winter. The Office of the State Fire Marshall reminds you to practice safety when heating your home or workplace, be cautious when cooking, and make sure holiday lights and decorations are used properly.
  • Build a home preparedness kit that includes winter supplies such as snow shovels, ice melting products, extra warm clothes and blankets, flashlights, and batteries. Also include extra COVID-19 supplies.
  • Follow a trusted weather source, such as the National Weather Service and local news media, to be aware of any predicted frozen precipitation or severe cold temperatures.
  • The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration offers these tips for safe winter driving.
  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter travel
    • Check and winterize your vehicle, including all fluids, wiper blades, lights, and systems before the winter season begins.
    • Have a car emergency kit in your vehicle, and add some COVID-19 supplies.
    • Having a car emergency kit can be the difference between surviving being stranded in a severe winter storm or blizzard and getting frostbite, or worse, dying.
  • Keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
  • Identify your pet with up-to-date name tags and rabies tags; include your cell phone number on the tag. Or, your pet can be microchipped, and most vets or animal control agencies can scan the chip to help locate the owner.
  • Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
  • Leave the heat on in your home and set the thermostat to no lower than 50° Fahrenheit If you will be going away during cold weather.
  • Consider using battery-operated flameless candles. They look and smell real!

Additional information about winter preparedness can be found on our website (www.mema.maryland.gov), our Twitter feed, our Facebook page, our LinkedIn page and our YouTube site.

NOTE TO MEDIA: MEMA staff members are available for interviews about winter storm and emergency preparedness.

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CONTACT:
Jorge Castillo, jorge.castillo@maryland.gov, 443-381-3518
Ed McDonough, ed.mcdonough@maryland.gov, 410-446-3333
24/7 line: 877-636-2872


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