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Soaring temperatures, summer storms and drought conditions can all contribute to extreme weather. Extreme weather poses serious health risks, causing illnesses, injuries and sometimes death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention works to reduce these risks and protect the public's health. Visit CDC's Web site at www.bt.cdc.gov for more information about preparing for, responding to, and recovering from potential hurricanes, extreme heat, wildfires, and other natural disasters and severe weather this summer.

Hurricanes

June 1 was the start of the hurricane season. Experts at the National Hurricane Center are predicting that the Atlantic Hurricane Season will produce an above-average number of storms this year.

If you're under a hurricane watch or warning, take important steps to prepare for the storm:

* Learn about your community's emergency plans, warning signals, evacuation routes, and emergency shelters.

* Make plans to protect people with special needs, older adults and pets.

* Stock your home and vehicle with emergency supplies, including medications.

* Secure or protect potential home hazards, such as utilities.

* Stay tuned to your radio or television and listen to local authorities.

Extreme heat

People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to properly cool themselves. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs. Older adults, young children and persons with chronic medical conditions are particularly susceptible to these illnesses and are at high risk for heat-related death.

Temperatures that hover 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for the region and last for several weeks are defined as extreme heat. When temperatures are extremely high, take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones:

* Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level.

* Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If you do not have air conditioning, visit a shopping mall or public library for a few hours or call your local health department to find any heat-relief shelters in your area.

* Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

* Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.

* Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Wildfires

Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.

If wildfires are burning in your area, or if winds blow wildfire smoke into your area, limit your exposure to the smoke. Take simple precautions to protect your health:

* Listen for advice from local authorities and follow their instructions.

* Limit indoor air pollution -- avoid burning candles, using gas stoves or vacuuming.

* Do not rely solely on face masks. These masks will not protect your lungs from smoke.

* If you have asthma or other lung conditions, follow your respiratory management plan.

* See a doctor if you have a hard time breathing.

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