Public Health Preparedness Program
Mission: To prepare and respond to natural and man-made public health emergencies including, but not limited to:
- severe weather conditions
- disease outbreaks
- radiological/nuclear hazards
Each month HCHD will bring you information and resources about different hazards and how to be prepared to respond.
Hazard of the Month: Food Emergencies & Safety
Emergency events may cause concern about food. Is my food safe? What am I going to eat? Where might I get food during the emergency? Being prepared will help keep our food safe before, during, and after emergencies, such as thunderstorms, floods, or winter weather.
What do I need to know? How do I prepare?
Make an emergency food supply kit.
Consider the following things when putting together your emergency food supplies:
- Stock canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation. Be sure to include a manual can opener and eating utensils.
- Store at least a several-day supply of non-perishable food.
- Choose foods your family will eat.
- Remember any special dietary needs.
The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) and Howard County Health Department Emergency Preparedness suggest the following when preparing your emergency food supply kit. You may already have some of these in your home.
- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and a can opener
- Protein or fruit bars
- Dry cereal or granola
- Peanut butter
- Dried fruit
- Canned juices
- Non-perishable pasteurized milk
- High-energy foods
- Food for infants
- Comfort/stress foods
For more information, visit Ready.gov/food
Managing/ handling food before, during, and, after an emergency
- Howard County Health Department
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security Suggested Emergency Food Supplies, Food Safety, & Managing Food without Power
- CDC Food and Water Needs: Preparing for a Disaster or Emergency
- USDA Food Safety Emergency Response Pocket Guide. Para leerlo en español seleccione aquí.
Become a Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Volunteer to help the Howard County Health Department (HCHD) increase existing health and medical staffing for clinics and other activities within the HCHD as well as, emergency or disaster-regardless of cause. MRC Volunteers are offered many free trainings related to emergency preparedness.
Cold Weather Safety
Colder weather often yields temperatures that can be dangerous after long periods of exposure, if proper precautions are not taken. Some of the dangers associated with winter weather include hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning and injuries from heat sources.
Frostbite is the freezing and subsequent destruction of body tissue. The areas most likely to freeze are toes, fingers, ears, cheeks and the tip of the nose.
To protect yourself and your family in cold weather follow the below tips:
- Cover your head.
- Wear several layers of lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. The air between layers acts as insulation to keep you warmer
- Wear mittens rather than fingered gloves. The close contact of fingers helps keep your hands warm.
- Wear warm leg coverings and heavy socks, or two pairs of lightweight socks.
- Be alert to other common winter hazards, such as carbon monoxide (CO) and injuries from heat sources. CO is produced by small gasoline engines, stoves, generators, lanterns and gas ranges, or by burning charcoal and wood. This colorless, odorless gas can cause severe illness and death. Go here for CO poisoning prevention tips.
- Equip your vehicles with items such as heavy blankets, water, nonperishable food, a flashlight and a snow shovel. More information about cold weather.
Additional Resources about Cold Weather Safety:
- National Weather Service Winter Weather Safety
- CDC Winter Weather Safety
- Maryland Department of Health Extreme Cold Resources
- Cold Weather Animal Safety
Anyone in need of shelter or other assistance should call the Grassroots hotline at 410-531-6677 or visit grassrootscrisis.org.
Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps
How can YOU help in an emergency?
Become a Howard County Medical Reserve Corps Volunteer
The Howard County Medical Reserve Corps (HCMRC) Program is volunteer organization created in July 2002. Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers can be medical and public health professionals or community members with no healthcare background.
This organization prepares for and responds to extreme weather conditions, such as hurricanes, blizzards, and floods, as well as other emergencies affecting public health, such as disease outbreaks.
The MRC also plans community health activities that promote healthy habits.
For more information or questions, contact Randell Young at 410-313-7237 or via email.
Request MRC Volunteers for your organization's public health event
Howard County MRC volunteers may be able to assist your organization with an upcoming event. Complete this request form to let us know what your needs are and you will receive a response within 72 hours from our team with the next steps. Submissions must be completed at least 2 weeks before the event. Questions should be emailed to [email protected].
Criteria to qualify for MRC assistance:
- The requesting agency provides a service which promotes or supports public health initiatives in Howard County.
- The event for which assistance is being sought does not conflict with other planned HCMRC activities.
- The requesting agency’s mission may not conflict with the mission of the HCHD, or the HC MRC.
Examples of Public Health Initiatives:
- Health Fairs
- School-based flu vaccinations
- Outreach initiatives
- Community education
At A Glance Emergency Contact Information
Howard County Health Department
Maryland Department of Health (MDH)
After Hours Emergency: 410-795-7365
Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Hazards of the Month