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County Executive Advises Residents to be Careful During Storm and Its Aftermath

Millersville (MD) - County Executive John R. Leopold is urging residents of Anne Arundel County to exercise extreme caution during the current storm event.  Numerous homes have been affected by the rising flood water in addition to electrical outages.  BG&E is reporting that there are approximately 14,000 residents without power at this time.  Road closures are widespread throughout the County with approximately 60 roads affected.

“We are taking aggressive steps to ensure the safety of our residents including activation of our emergency operations center, deployment of additional emergency responders, and public safety messages to affected citizens,” The County Executive said in receiving a briefing about the affects of the storm.  “I am particularly concerned about individuals attempting to drive through standing or running water and also residents who may suffer damage due to flooding in their basements.”

The following recommendations are given to residents who may experience flooding in the basement of their homes: 

  • Flooded basements can be very dangerous and should be navigated with caution. To be safe, always assume that water in a flooded basement is energized.
  • Don't walk through a flooded basement while the electricity is still connected.
    Even if the amount of water in your basement seems small, you could be putting yourself at risk for electrocution. Electric pumps and wet-vacs seem like a natural solution to remove the water, but the risk of electrical shock is too great.
  • Call your electric company to have service disconnected.
    If there is standing water in your house, call your local electric company to have the power disconnected. Once the power is disconnected, it should be safe to begin cleaning up your house. When you are ready for your service to be reconnected, call your electric company back to have your service connected again. Make sure that you have a licensed electrician inspect your house before you call your utility to have the service reconnected.
  • Have your natural gas turned off if your basement floods.
    Hot water heaters, furnaces and heaters can have pilot lights that can be put out by standing water. This may allow natural gas to escape into your home creating a risk of explosion. In the event your basement floods, call your local gas company to have your home’s natural gas turned off.  After the water recedes, your hot water heater and furnace should be inspected by a professional prior to having the gas service turned back on.
  • Portable generators are useful when temporary or remote electric power is needed, but they also can be hazardous. The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution, fire and burns.
  • Every year, people die in incidents related to portable generator use. Most of the incidents associated with portable generators involve CO poisoning from generators used indoors or in partially-enclosed spaces. Anne Arundel County residents have fallen victim to such dangers and several fatalities have occurred in the past.

Carbon Monoxide Hazards

  • When used in a confined space, generators can produce high levels of CO within minutes. When you use a portable generator, remember that you cannot see or smell CO. Even if you do not smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO.
  • If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY. DO NOT DELAY. The CO from generators can rapidly kill you.
  • NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
  • Follow the instructions that come with your generator. Locate the unit outdoors and far from doors, windows, and vents that could allow CO to come indoors.
  • Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. CO alarms should be certified to the requirements of the latest safety standards (UL 2034, IAS 6-96, or CSA 6.19.01). Test batteries monthly.

Electrical Hazards

  • Generators pose a risk of shock and electrocution, especially if they are operated in wet conditions. If you must use a generator when it is wet outside, protect the generator from moisture to help avoid the shock/electrocution hazard, but do so without operating the generator indoors or near openings to any building that can be occupied in order to help avoid the CO hazard. Operate the generator under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface where water cannot reach it or puddle or drain under it. Dry your hands, if wet, before touching the generator.
  • Connect appliances to the generator using heavy-duty extension cords that are specifically designed for outdoor use. Make sure the wattage rating for each cord exceeds the total wattage of all appliances connected to it. Use extension cords that are long enough to allow the generator to be placed outdoors and far away from windows, doors and vents to the home or to other structures that could be occupied. Check that the entire length of each cord is free of cuts or tears and that the plug has all three prongs. Protect the cord from getting pinched or crushed if it passes through a window or doorway.
  • NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as “backfeeding.” This is extremely dangerous and presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. It also bypasses some of the built-in household circuit protection devices.

Fire Hazards

  • Never store fuel for your generator in the home. Gasoline, propane, kerosene, and other flammable liquids should be stored outside of living areas in properly-labeled, non-glass safety containers. Do not store them near a fuel-burning appliance, such as a natural gas water heater in a garage.
  • Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool down. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.

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Anne Arundel County, Maryland. 44 Calvert Street, Annapolis, Maryland 21401 | Tele: (410) 222-7000