As the National Capital Region (NCR) prepares for a winter storm, Charles County Government wants to ensure that residents stay safe and are prepared in the event of an emergency. Preparing your family and home will reduce potential hazards to health and safety. Now is the time to prepare before the approaching winter weather covers the region. Winter weather presents many safety challenges, both indoors and out. Staying indoors as much as possible can help reduce vehicle accidents and injuries from falls on the ice. However, residents may face indoor hazards as well. Being prepared and following safety precautions can help you stay safe and secure.
Snow removal from main roads in Maryland (numbered roads) is performed by the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA). Charles County is serviced by the SHA District 5 Office. This office may be contacted by calling 410-841-1000 or toll-free 800-331-5603. Highway emergencies, such as traffic signal outages or sinkholes, may be reported to the SHA Statewide Operations Center at 410-582-5650 or toll-free at 800-543-2515. The SHA website is: www.roads.maryland.gov.
The Charles County Government alerts citizens of cancellations, closings and delays and other helpful information, through the Citizen Notification System (CNS). Alerts may include:
- Snow plowing/snow removal.
- Power outages, including helpful tips if the power goes out.
- Transit information.
- Downed trees/branches.
- Sidewalks, Driveways, and Entrances
For snow related inquiries or concerns, please call the Charles County Government's snow hotline at 1-888-460-SNOW (7669). Please call 9-1-1 for health/safety emergencies.
Ways to Find Information
- Sign up for CNS (text alert system). This is Charles County Government's free service that sends text messages to your mobile device, as well as an e-mail during an emergency.
- Check the Charles County Government's website to register for CNS, and while there, you can also become a fan of our Facebook page.
- Watch the CCGTV cable channel for updates (Comcast 95 or Verizon 10).
- Media such as TV news stations and local newspapers.
- Localized additional resources, such as local radio station signals, emergency hotlines, etc.
Information about storm events will be posted as needed at www.CharlesCountyMD.gov.
Text Alert Systems / Website
Alerts and updates are available on the Charles County Government's Facebook page and through CNS. Sign up for alerts at www.CharlesCountyMD.gov. Check the website for emergency alert messages and updated information on County facilities, programs and services.
The Charles County Government is activating a hotline for residents who have non-emergency questions related to a winter weather event. The hotline number is 1-888-460-SNOW (7669). As always, please call 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. Also, the County Government's website has links to helpful storm related information at www.CharlesCountyMD.gov.
Three Key Safety Tips
Charles County Government's public safety officials are emphasizing three of the most important things that residents can do to stay safe during this winter weather/storm.
1. Clear the area around the fire hydrants and dry hydrants in your neighborhood. Clearing the snow from around the hydrants will enable fire and rescue personnel to access the hydrants quickly in the event of an emergency.
2. Make sure your address is visible for emergency personnel. If your address has been covered up by the snow, write it in clear, large print on a piece of paper and place it on your front door.
3. Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly and homebound and especially in rural areas.
Get Where You Need to Be Before the Weather Gets Bad
- It is safer for everyone if you stay put - and not travel during inclement weather - whether you are at home, work or school.
- By staying off the roads, local departments of transportation are more easily able to access roads that need treatment, snow plows can more freely clear roads and get to areas needing plowing.
- By staying off the roads, public safety officials can respond more quickly to residents in need of emergency services.
- It may require employees to take a couple of hours of personal leave, but leaving early enough to avoid bad weather and traffic gridlock caused by slippery road conditions is worth the investment.
Do NOT Travel During Winter Storms
- Weather Changes Quickly.
- Listen to Local Officials.
- Monitor the Weather.
- Know your School's Emergency Plan.
How You Can Help with Snow Removal
Driving on snow is dangerous and packs the snow into compact sheets that turn to ice, making it much harder and more expensive to remove. Don't attempt to drive unless you have to.
- Navigating around objects severely hampers a plow or heavy equipment driver's ability to clear the roads and costs valuable time and money each time a driver must leave his/her vehicle and move objects. Many objects are unable to be seen as they are buried in the snow, or blend in with the coloring. The range of vision from a snow plow truck is very limited.
- Don't put trash cans or recycling bins out until after the plows have come through.
- Remove all parked cars from the road.
- Remove all portable basketball hoops from the road when possible.
- Start a neighborhood team to help shovel snow for elderly and those unable to shovel.
- Volunteer to use equipment you may have such as small snow blowers for a community removal effort.
- Find out ahead of time what the plans are for snow removal in your neighborhood and coordinate so you can help them out.
- Do NOT approach a piece of heavy equipment while it is being operated. You run a severe risk of injury as the driver cannot hear or see a person approaching, especially at night.
- If you must drive, respect the space around the plows and stay back at least 100 feet. The visibility from the cab of a plow is extremely limited.
- Be kind to snow plow operators. They are working very hard and are spending much time away from their own families.
Snow Hauling Continues
- Crews continue their cleanup efforts in the aftermath of snow. While most facilities have returned to normal operations, crews caution that it could be several weeks before streets and sidewalks are returned to something resembling "normal" conditions.
- Inspectors are focusing on high use pedestrian routes throughout the area and will continue to do so until all sidewalks are cleared and safe for pedestrians and bicyclists. Businesses and property owners are reminded that all sidewalks and walkways abutting their properties are required to be cleared. Snow removal crews are also working to locate fire hydrants, to clear bus stops and to clear intersections to help improve sight lines. Residents are reminded to exercise extreme caution when both driving and walking.
- Sight lines continue to remain a challenge at many intersections; motorists are urged to obey speed limits and traffic signals and to approach these intersections with care. If pedestrians must walk in the street, they are urged to walk facing on-coming traffic so they can see vehicles coming towards them. Pedestrians should also cross only at crosswalks and intersections, and wear reflective clothing if walking after dark.