Article Archive >> In Your County

County Comment: Building Safety Month focuses on disaster safety and mitigation

County Comment
Building Safety Month focuses on disaster safety and mitigation
Learn how you can prepare for a disaster emergency situation
By Sarah Lankford Sprecher
Director of Public Relations & Community Affairs

Hagerstown, MD (May 15, 2012) - Washington County Government proudly celebrates Building Safety during the month of May. This week's focus is on disaster safety and mitigation and we will highlight safety tips and ways to access resources to plan for an emergency.
The Washington County Division of Emergency Services recognizes the importance of emergency preparedness in creating stronger and resilient communities. Please access and participate in the resources listed below to learn how you can prepare for an emergency situation.
County Programs for Emergency Awareness
* Citizen Awareness - Citizen Notification Sign-up (Everbridge Aware) - In event of an emergency or disaster, this service allows Emergency Services personnel to quickly notified affected citizens. Register up to five different addresses within the County and up to 10 different contact options including cell phones, text, and emails - for FREE! For information or to register, go to or contact an Emergency Services Planner, (240) 313-4371.
* Citizen Emergency Response Training (CERT)
Teaches overall preparedness and response to citizens affected by large-scale disasters within their own community. Training in light urban search and rescue, basic first aid, and fire extinguishers. For information contact our Emergency Management department at (240) 313-4394.
What is Mitigation?
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the term "mitigation" describes actions, which can help reduce or eliminate your long-term risk from natural disasters; furthermore, with mitigation, you can avoid losses and reduce your risk of becoming a disaster victim. For specific tips and more information, visit the FEMA online library by clicking here.
Disaster Safety Tips
* Develop a family action plan and share with everyone in your family, so you will know where to go if an evacuation is called. Review at least two exit routes from your home or neighborhood to a designated meeting place for your family. Plan ahead for your pets, as many shelters will not accept them.
* Create a disaster supply kit that will allow you to remain in your home after a disaster or for use after evacuating to a safer location. Be sure the necessities in your kit are fresh and restored every six months.
* Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. Never drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. It takes only six inches of fast flowing water to sweep you off your feet and two feet of water to move a SUV-sized vehicle.
* Secure lawn furniture and any other loose outdoor items that can become windborne and can cause injury or damage during storms with high winds. Don't forget trashcans, grills, toys and potted plants.

* Use Surge Protective Devices (SPD) in your home to protect electronic appliances from all but the most severe electrical surges or direct strikes. The devices should be installed to afford the highest level of protection.
* In wildfire prone areas, remove fine (dead grass, leaves, etc.) and coarse fuels (dead twigs, branches, etc.) within 30 feet of a building to create a survivable space in case of wildfire. Be sure to remove dry leaf and pine litter from roofs, rain gutters, decks and walkways. Follow ICC's International Wildland-Urban Interface Code(r) for detailed requirements.
Connect With Us for Information
Connect with us daily for safety tips on, and email to "Ask the Expert" questions on building safety. To learn more about building code and safe structures, visit
Next Week's Building Safety Topic:
Week of May 21st: Fire Safety and Awareness - Learn how the County's first responders keep our County safe and continue to educate the public on fire safety.

Printable version

<< back to Articles on In Your County
<< back to All Articles