The role of the Dorchester County Health Department’s Emergency Preparedness program is to provide guidance and leadership on a variety of emergencies that affect public health in Dorchester County.
These emergencies include:
- Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes
- Bioterrorism, such as anthrax
- Disease outbreaks, such as COVD-19
- Radiation, such as a nuclear power plant incident
We do this by:
- Talking to residents and community leaders about ways we can prepare ourselves for health emergencies.
- Planning together with government agencies and local healthcare for the response.
- Monitoring information from hospital emergency department visits, the weather, and other data to identify risks to health or possible health emergencies.
- Partnering with the city, state, private partners, and community groups to identify resources to meet the needs of the public during emergencies.
A disaster can strike quickly, without warning, causing you to evacuate or take shelter. Whether you face a hurricane, tornado or bioterrorism threat it is essential that you are prepared.
Emergency preparedness involves a number of basic strategies:
- Developing a Disaster Plan. A disaster plan is needed to safely survive an emergency or disaster. From preparing a disaster kit to emergency phone numbers to pet care, it is essential that everyone in your family knows and practices the disaster plan. A family communications plan outlines phone numbers and other ways your family can stay in touch during an emergency.
- Sheltering in place. Sheltering in place means staying in your home, school, or workplace. During a sudden emergency, it also may mean staying where you are when the emergency occurs, whether that is a business, the mall, a supermarket or an office.
- Evacuating the area. Evacuation means leaving a specific area. How far you must travel away from the area depends on the type of emergency.
- Learning how to respond to different types of disasters. That information, along with details about disasters, kits, and plans, is available at Ready and CDC Emergency Preparedness & Response.
Other resources may be found at Maryland Department of Health’s Office of Preparedness & Response
If you have any questions about emergency preparedness, please call the public health emergency planner at (443) 205-2275 or send an email.
It is important to know the difference between an advisory, a watch, and a warning. Each represents a different level of potential threat and should trigger preparation and awareness activities by individuals.
- Advisory or Statement: Be aware! A hazard is expected to occur in your area or nearby, but its impact is not expected to be life-threatening.
- Watch: Be prepared! A dangerous hazard may occur in your area or nearby.
- Warning: Take action! A hazard is expected to occur or is already occurring in your area or nearby, and its impact may be serious.
“THIS IS A TEST”: Officials sometimes send test or practice messages. Consider using this as a reminder to check your emergency plan and supplies.
Everbridge (Citizen Alert System)
Get alerted about emergencies and other important community news by signing up for the county’s Emergency Alert Program. This system enables us to provide you with critical information quickly in a variety of situations, such as severe weather, unexpected road closures, missing persons and evacuations of buildings or neighborhoods.
You will receive time-sensitive messages wherever you specify, such as your home, mobile or business phones, email address, text messages and more.
Basic Disaster Supplies Kit
To assemble your kit, store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.
A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
- Water (one gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and sanitation)
- Food (at least a several-day supply of non-perishable food)
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle (to signal for help)
- Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to shelter in place)
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)
- Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
- Manual can opener (for food)
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:
- Masks (for everyone ages 2 and above), soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces
- Prescription medications. About half of all Americans take prescription medicine every day. An emergency can make it difficult for them to refill their prescription or to find an open pharmacy. Organize and protect your prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and vitamins to prepare for an emergency.
- Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
- Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution
- Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
- Paper and pencil
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Cash or traveler’s checks
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
Maintaining Your Kit
After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:
- Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
- Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers.
- Replace expired items as needed.
- Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.
Kit Storage Locations
Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and cars.
- Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
- Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
- Car: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.
If you see an emergency or hear the threat of an emergency it is best to call 911. Following an emergency let the professionals – police, fire, medical services, EMS, National Guard, etc. respond.
In certain instances, the normal response systems may be temporarily overloaded. If you have special training, you may be able to assist in emergency response.
In some emergencies donating blood is an excellent way to save lives. Another way of assisting during an emergency is helping people with disabilities, older people, or families with young children.
Want to get involved?
Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps is a community-based, civilian, volunteer program that helps build the public health infrastructure and response capabilities of Maryland communities.
The Maryland Responds program allows medical and public health professionals and non-medical community members to volunteer their skills, expertise and time to support ongoing public health initiatives and to assist during emergencies.
Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) may assist emergency response professionals when systems are temporarily overloaded. See what is involved in being a trained volunteer.
In the event of an emergency, residents should tune in to one of the broadcasting stations listed below for news and official information.
- WCEI FM 96.7 MHz – Easton
- WEMD AM 1460 kHz – Easton
- WCEM FM 106.3 MHz – Cambridge
- WCEM AM 1240 kHz – Cambridge
- WBOC 16
- WMDT 47
Emergency Alert System
The Emergency Alert System will provide you with official information in cases of tornadoes, floods, nuclear plant accidents or other emergencies.
Turn on your radio or TV for official information and instructions.
Emergency Alert Stations
- WKHZ 1460 Easton
- WCEM 1240 Cambridge
- WGOP 540 Pocomoke
- WCEI 96.7 Easton
- WCEM 106.3 Cambridge
Channel 16 WBOC
For Additional Information
- Ready.gov – Prepare. Plan. Stay Informed
- CDC Emergency Preparedness and Response
- American Red Cross – Be prepared
- Sign up for local CPR/BLS classes
- Dorchester County Hazard Mitigation Plan
Extreme heat is defined as summertime temperatures that are much hotter and/or humid than average. Because some places are hotter than others, this depends on what’s considered average for a particular location at that time of year. Humid and muggy conditions can make it seem hotter than it really is.
Some factors that might increase your risk of developing a heat-related illness include:
- High levels of humidity
- Prescription drug use
- Heart disease
- Mental illness
- Poor circulation
- Alcohol use
Summertime activity, whether on the playing field or the construction site, must be balanced with actions that help the body cool itself to prevent heat-related illness.
Older adults, the very young, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk. However, even young and healthy people can be affected if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.
Certain groups are at higher risk, including:
- Infants and children
- Adults 65+
- Outdoor workers
- Those with chronic conditions
- Those with low income
During extreme heat events, Dorchester County will open cooling centers at both the Cambridge and Hurlock branches of the Dorchester County Public Library.
Lightning is a leading cause of injury and death from weather-related hazards. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.
Thunderstorms are dangerous storms that include lightning and can create or cause:
- Powerful winds over 50 mph
- Flash flooding and/or tornadoes
- Stay Safe During Thunderstorms & Lightning
If you are under a thunderstorm warning:
- When thunder roars, go indoors! Move from outdoors into a building or car with a roof.
- Pay attention to alerts and warnings.
- Avoid using electronic devices connected to an electrical outlet.
- Avoid running water.
- Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Do not drive through flooded roadways. Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
Stay Safe After Thunderstorms & Lightning
Pay attention to authorities and weather forecasts for information on whether it is safe to go outside and instructions regarding potential flash flooding.
Watch for fallen power lines and trees. Report them immediately.
Although winter comes as no surprise, many of us may not be ready for its arrival. Winter storms and cold temperatures can be dangerous. If you are prepared for the hazards of winter, you are more likely to stay safe and healthy when temperatures start to fall.
- Prepare your home and vehicles.
- Prepare for power outages and outdoor activity.
- Be ready to check on family and neighbors who are especially at risk from cold weather hazards: young children, older adults, and the chronically ill.
- If you have pets, bring them inside. If you cannot bring them inside, provide adequate, warm shelter and unfrozen water to drink.
No one can stop the onset of winter. However, if you follow these suggestions, you will be ready for it when it comes.
Hurricanes are dangerous and destructive. Known also as cyclones and typhoons in other parts of the world, hurricanes cause high winds, flooding, heavy rain, and storm surges.
Floods, big or small, can have devastating effects on your home and your family. You can take steps to reduce the harm caused by flooding. Learn how to prepare for a flood, stay safe during a flood, and protect your health when you return home after a flood.
During a tornado, people face hazards from extremely high winds and risk being struck by flying and falling objects. After a tornado, the damage left behind poses additional injury risks. Although nothing can be done to prevent tornadoes, there are actions you can take to protect your health and safety.
A pandemic is a disease outbreak that spans several countries and affects a large number of people. Pandemics are most often caused by viruses, like Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which can easily spread from person to person.
A new virus, like COVID-19, can emerge from anywhere and quickly spread around the world. It is hard to predict when or where the next new pandemic will emerge.
If a pandemic is declared:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Keep a distance of at least six feet between yourself and people who are not part of your household.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when in public.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch objects and surfaces.
- Stay at home as much as possible to prevent the spread of disease.
- Follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If you live within a 10 mile-radius of Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant (CCNPP) you will annually receive materials from Exelon Corporation regarding the unlikely event of a radiation emergency. Read the materials carefully and store them in a readily available location.
You are also eligible to receive Potassium Iodide (KI) tablets. KI helps protect the thyroid gland from damage caused by radioactive iodine that may be released from the plant during an emergency. KI does not protect any other part of the body from radiation damage. Therefore, KI is not a substitute for other protective actions such as evacuation or taking shelter, which protect the entire body from most forms of radiation.
Pregnant women and children are especially sensitive to radiation exposure.
Should a radioactive emergency occur, official recommendations to the public for protective actions, including taking KI, will be broadcast by the media.
If you have specific questions about CCNPP, your risk, and how to prepare, please contact the Dorchester County Government’s Emergency Management office at (410) 228-1818.