Posted at 11 a.m.
Each year small businesses nationwide are forced to close their doors in the aftermath of severe storms, flooding, tornadoes, wildfires and hurricanes. Business interruptions, even if they last just a few hours, are costly in terms of lost productivity and profits.
You can get help with your own business preparedness planning through a series of free webinars in September hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Agility Recovery. The September series is presented in collaboration with FEMA’s Ready Campaign as part of National Preparedness Month.
The SBA wants to help business owners take charge of the well-being of their own companies, the safety of their employees and the sustenance of their local economies by being prepared to rebound quickly from any kind of disaster.
The half-hour webinars will be presented at 2 p.m., Eastern time, each Wednesday in September. Visit http://snurl.com/296yw4e to register for any or all of the webinars listed below:
- Sept. 3: Crisis Communications for Any Organization
Learn best practices for developing an emergency communication strategy.
- Sept. 10: How to Plan for a Power Interruption…and Recover Fast
Tips on how to make your company resilient and better prepared to mitigate losses during power outages.
- Sept. 17: The Top 5 Steps for Preparedness This Year
The top five ways to prepare for disaster-related business interruptions will be discussed.
- Sept. 24: If You Do Nothing Else This Year
Simple, low-cost tips on building a solid business continuity plan.
SBA has partnered with Agility Recovery to offer business continuity strategies through their “Prepare My Business” website. Visit www.preparemybusiness.org to check out the archived webinars and for more disaster preparedness tools.
Posted at 2:30 p.m.
Join our Office of Emergency Management (OEM) at the upcoming Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) meetings to learn about Fairfax Alerts and emergency preparedness. You’ll also have a chance to win an emergency car kit from State Farm at each meeting held at each of the eight police district stations.
- Mason District, Sept.2
- Mount Vernon District, Sept. 9
- Franconia District, Sept. 17
- Reston District, Sept. 18
- Fair Oaks District, Sept. 30
- West Springfield District, Oct. 7
- McLean District, Oct. 16
- Sully District, Nov. 12
CACs enhance communication between residents and our police department and offer you a chance to dialogue with members of your local police district. Members are kept informed about significant safety matters in their neighborhoods and are encouraged to bring any issues or questions to the attention of local police commanders.
If you’re not able to attend one of these specific meetings, OEM will also be at numerous other meetings and events in September (National Preparedness Month). Stop by one if you have the chance, and if you need more details or locations for any of these meetings, contact OEM:
- Sept. 3 – U.S. Health and Human Services Employee Preparedness Fair
- Sept. 4 – Fort Belvoir Defense Logistics Agency Preparedness Fair
- Sept. 6-7 – Ready-Set-Know Festival at the Burke Centre Fall Festival
- Sept. 8 – Disability Services Board meeting
- Sept. 10 – U.S. State Department Preparedness Fair
- Sept. 11 – GMU Service Fair
- Sept. 15 – U.S. House of Representatives Preparedness Fair
- Sept. 16 – U.S. Department of Interior Preparedness Fair
- Sept. 17 – McLean Citizens Association Preparedness Night
- Sept. 18 – Pentagon Employee Preparedness Fair
- Sept. 18 – U.S. Office of Personnel Management Employee Preparedness Fair
- Sept. 19 – U.S. Senate Employee Preparedness Fair
- Sept. 22 – Senior Preparedness Fair – Vienna Community Center
- Sept. 24 – Northern Virginia Community College Zombie Day and Student Preparedness Fair
- Sept. 25 – Fort Belvoir Defense Logistics Agency Preparedness Presentation
- Sept. 25 – Citizen Corps Council meeting
- Sept. 30 – Government Technology and Services Coalition Preparedness Presentation
To learn more about emergency preparedness or having an OEM representative attend your event or give a presentation at your homeowners association or civic association meeting, call 571-350-1000, TTY 711; email email@example.com. You can also get more information online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency.
Posted at 11 a.m.
Three-year anniversary of Virginia quake serves as reminder to register for Oct. 16 drill
Many of us remember exactly where we were and how we reacted on Aug. 23, 2011 — three years ago today — when an historic 5.8 earthquake centered in Louisa County, Va. knocked homes and buildings from foundations, destroyed schools and even heavily damaged the Washington Monument — proving that earthquakes can (and do) happen right here in Virginia.
“We learned unexpectedly what the safe response to an earthquake is, and it’s not to run outside,” said Jeff Stern, state coordinator of emergency management. “Since the Mineral earthquake, Virginia has participated every year in a multi-state earthquake drill so we all can practice and remember to drop, cover and hold on.”
The Great Southeast ShakeOut multistate earthquake drill, which began in 2012, will be held this year on Thursday, Oct. 16, at 10:16 a.m.
Once registered, you will get information about how to plan a drill and practice the recommended actions should an earthquake occur:
- Drop to the ground where you are.
- Take Cover under a sturdy table or desk if possible, protecting your head and neck.
- Hold on until the shaking stops.
Last year, one million Virginians took part in the Great Southeast ShakeOut. Fairfax County has consistently been at the forefront for participation in each year’s drill. Let’s continue that high level of participation again this year. Register today!
Posted at 3:30 p.m.
The end of summer brings the start of another school year, full of opportunity to get involved in fresh activities and learn something new. Deciding on new school supplies and planning the outfit you’ll wear on the first day of school is part of being prepared. But, are your child(ren) and family prepared for emergencies?
The back-to-school season also presents the opportunity to get prepared for emergencies, especially as family routines oftentimes change during the school year and disasters may not occur while family is together.
Do you and your children know the following information without cellphone access? Is it handy in wallets, backpacks, briefcases and more?
- Family phone numbers.
- Addresses for home, school and work.
- Meeting location (one near your house and outside your neighborhood).
- Out-of-state contact for household members to notify they are safe.
Inquire about emergency plans at places where your family frequently spends their time:
- Daycare and school.
- Houses of worship.
- Sports arenas and venues.
Involving your children in making your family’s emergency plan helps them know what to do and reduces stress during times of emergency. Make your family emergency plan at www.ReadyNOVA.org.
Shopping for school supplies? Pick up an extra backpack or use an old one and enjoy a family night of making emergency go-kits. Emergency kits need to be customized to each person’s individual needs.
Learn more about how to make an emergency kit at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/prepare/make-a-kit.htm
Posted at 2:40 p.m.
The National Weather Service forecast indicates that the county could expect a maximum of 2 inches of rain within the next hour, and Fairfax County is under a flash flood watch. Showers with embedded areas of heavy rainfall will continue through tonight.
Although it won’t be raining all the time, periods of heavy rain will leave the ground water logged resulting in potential flooding.
A flash flood watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation. You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should flash flood warnings be issued.
Huntington and Belle View/New Alexandria Communities
If this amount of rain falls in the Cameron Run watershed county officials expect significant street flooding in the Huntington area. As a precaution, residents in the Huntington area are advised to move vehicles to higher elevations. We also may experience localized street flooding near the intersection of Olde Towne Road and Wood Haven Road and the vicinity of 6700 West Wakefield Drive in the Belle View/New Alexandria areas.
At this time, county officials do not anticipate any structural flooding in the Huntington or Belle View/New Alexandria areas based on the latest forecast, nor do anticipate any structural flooding if we should receive the full amount of rainfall.
Public safety, public works and emergency management continue to monitor the storm and conditions on the ground throughout the county and will send additional alerts if the situation changes.
Our Police blog is reporting on impacted roads and road closures due to the heavy rain. Check the blog for the most current list of affected roads and note that all roads may not be listed at this time. Don’t risk driving through water covered roadways. Remember the saying: “Turn Around. Don’t Drown!”
Posted at 1 p.m.
Our Fire and Rescue Department will be offering two Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trainings to residents over a two month period during September and October at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Academy, 4600 West Ox Road, Fairfax. There is no cost for the program.
Both seven-class sessions will be held from 7-10:30 p.m. each evening.
- One class will be held on Monday evenings beginning Sept. 8 through Oct. 27 (Sept. 8, 15, 22, 29 and Oct. 6, 20 and 27).
- The other class will be held on Wednesdays beginning Sept. 10 through Oct. 29 (Sept. 10, 17, 24 and Oct. 1, 8, 22 and 29).
The Community Emergency Response Team training program is designed to prepare residents to help themselves, their families and neighbors during a disaster in their community. Through CERT training, you’ll learn about disaster preparedness and receive low-impact training in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, minimal search and rescue, and disaster medical operations. The training intends to provide immediate assistance and critical support before first responders arrive on scene.
The classroom instruction incorporates some hands-on skill development and experience in conducting a search and victim assessment.
To sign up, go to the Fairfax County volunteer portal at https://volunteer.fairfaxcounty.gov and search for CERT. For more information, call Jeff Katz, at 703-246-3926, TTY 711.
Posted at 11 a.m.
Our Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has launched an emergency management internship program and is accepting applications until Wednesday, Aug. 13, for this fall’s internship program.
The internship program provides an opportunity for students or recent graduates to explore career options, apply academic knowledge and skills to the workplace, gain career skills, build resumes and network with emergency management professionals throughout the National Capital Region.
Learn more about the internship program and download the application at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/oem/internship.
Posted at 2 p.m.
One of the big improvements in the county’s new alert system — Fairfax Alerts — is the ability to customize weather alerts specifically the way you want them and when you receive them.
If you’re not signed up yet for Fairfax Alerts, do so right now! And customize your weather alerts once you’ve signed in.
Posted at 1 p.m.
Fireworks are responsible for thousands of fires and injuries each year. Our Fire and Rescue Department produced this video offering tips on how to enjoy this year’s 4th of July fireworks.
The National Fire Protection Association meanwhile takes a humorous approach to consumer fireworks in this video that features Dan Doofus, urging people not to use consumer fireworks because they are too dangerous.
Fireworks and sparklers are designed to explode or throw off showers of hot sparks. Temperatures may exceed 1,200 degrees; by comparison, water boils at 212 degrees and glass melts at 900 degrees.
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend one of the many public displays; however, if you are having a home fireworks display, here are some fireworks safety guidelines from our Fire and Rescue Department:
- Follow the manufacturer directions.
- Have water available for extinguishment of discarded fireworks or an emergency.
- Place legally purchased fireworks on a flat surface, clear of combustible materials and clear of all buildings.
- Light only one firework at a time.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep bystanders at least 25 feet away from fireworks.
- Do not permit young children to handle or light fireworks.
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
Permissible fireworks are defined by the Fire Prevention Code as any sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh’s serpents, caps for pistols or pinwheels commonly known as whirligigs or spinning jennies. The use of consumer 1.4G permissible fireworks not approved by the Fairfax County Fire Marshal is prohibited in Fairfax County and the towns of Clifton, Herndon and Vienna.
The Fairfax County Fire Marshal determines the acceptability of permissible fireworks through an annual evaluation and review process. Permissible fireworks that meet the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory (AFSL) acceptable criteria during the evaluation and review process are listed in the 2014 Approved Permissible Fireworks List (PDF) and are permitted to be sold from June 1 through July 15 at fixed locations approved by the county Fire Marshal.
Posted at 11:30 a.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory from noon today to 7 p.m. this evening. Heat index values will be around 103-105 degrees with temperatures in the mid to upper 90s.
A heat advisory means that a period of high temperatures is expected. The combination of high temperatures and high humidity will create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible. We recommend scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments — and drink plenty of water.
There is a risk of heat-related illness for those without air-conditioning or those outdoors for an extended period. Workers exposed to hot and humid conditions are at risk of heat illness, especially those engaged in heavy work tasks or wearing bulky protective clothing and equipment. Workers not yet acclimated to working in hot weather, particularly new workers, may be at greater risk of heat illness.
Heat illnesses range from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention and, if not treated, can result in death. Acting quickly can save lives! Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency — call 9-1-1.
Remember three simple words: water, rest, shade.
Employers should provide workers with water, rest and shade and educate them on how drinking water frequently, taking breaks and limiting time in the heat help prevent heat illness. Workers should also be trained to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses, and employers should include prevention steps in worksite training and plans.
The Bottom Line
Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside.
- If possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening.
- Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Take in a movie, stroll through a shopping center or visit one of the Fairfax County Cooling Centers.
- Check on elderly neighbors.
- Do not leave children or pets unattended in vehicles!
Posted 11:48 a.m.
Two years ago today, many of us woke up to no power, spotty cellphone service, 9-1-1 problems, downed trees and a host of other complications as the result of a derecho storm.
We continue to talk about the derecho storm two years later as it impacted many aspects of our emergency preparedness and response efforts. And we continue to conduct exercise drills so we’re better prepared:
- Last week we participated in a drill focused on a major hurricane.
- Over the weekend, our first responders joined in an exercise on the new Silver Line Metro.
We are preparing for the next weather event or emergency:
What preparations have you made?
We Need Everyone to Prepare
During widespread events such as the derecho, the government alone can’t respond immediately to long power outages, downed trees, hurricanes or people stuck in transit, especially across a county that’s 400 square miles.
To help, we’ve developed 30 easy ways for you to prepare, including:
- Having cash and medicine on hand
- Determining how much water you need
- Two ways to get out of your home, workplace or faith community
- Digital preparedness
Digital preparedness is increasingly important and after the derecho, power and cell service were interrupted. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management created this quick visual to help us think about digital preparedness:
Our new Fairfax Alerts system is now available, too. Please sign up for this new system so you can be informed of weather alerts and other critical information.
A Word About 9-1-1
One of the major impacts from the derecho was the inability to call 9-1-1. In this video, Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova discusses some of the changes made with Verizon, the region’s 9-1-1 carrier.
Posted at 2 p.m.
County emergency management, public works, public safety, human services, public information officers and related county agencies — along with the American Red Cross — will participate in an emergency exercise tomorrow, Thursday, June 26.
The exercise, called VERTEX 2014, is based around a weather scenario in which a category three hurricane makes landfall in Virginia, causing severe damage throughout the county requiring the opening of a shelter for displaced residents.
The exercise will be held in three locations:
You should not be alarmed if you see numerous public safety vehicles and county staff at either the library or the high school. This is only an exercise.
Public safety and public works staff will be exercising incident command principles including unified command and will be based in the library parking lot (weather permitting). This exercise will enhance the multiagency planning and response to the threats that face our community during a severe weather event.
Human services staff and volunteers, along with the American Red Cross, will be setting up a shelter at the high school to test the county’s shelter plan.
The exercise will be coordinated from the EOC and supported by additional county staff exercising from that location.
We’re preparing for the next emergency in our community. Are you ready? Take a look at these resources to get better prepared for the next emergency.
Posted at 1 p.m.
This week, June 22-28, is Lightning Safety Awareness Week. Summer is the peak season for one of the nation’s deadliest weather phenomena — lightning.
According to a recent report from NOAA (PDF), June, July and August are the peak months for lightning activity across the U.S. and the peak months for outdoor summer activities. As a result, almost two thirds of lightning deaths occurred to people who had been enjoying outdoor leisure activities; more than 70 percent of these lightning deaths occurred during the summer months with Saturdays and Sundays having slightly more deaths than other days of the week.
Have you heard these lightning myths? If there’s lightning, lay down flat on the ground. Seek shelter under a tree. And don’t touch someone who’s been struck or you’ll get shocked. Yes, all of these statements are myths. Here’s the truth:
- If you lay down on the ground, you’re more exposed to electrical currents running underground.
- Never seek shelter from lightning under a tree. It is actually the second leading cause of lightning fatalities.
- If someone is struck by lightning, don’t be scared to assist him or her immediately. The human body does not store electricity and helping them immediately could be essential to their survival.
Before you go out in the rain, know the facts.
- Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building is hit nearly 100 times a year! (The presence of metal makes absolutely no difference on where lightning strikes.)
- Most cars are safe from lightning, but it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, not the rubber tires.
- A house is a safe place to be during a thunderstorm as long as you avoid anything that conducts electricity.
How many lightning myths have you heard?
Fairfax Alerts, the new alert system from Fairfax County, is now live and you are encouraged to sign up for emergency alerts, as well as severe traffic and weather alerts customized to your desires.
If We Can’t Reach You, We Can’t Alert You
Here are some of the features of the new Fairfax Alerts:
- Choose to receive traffic updates, emergency alerts and county government notifications.
- Choose automatic weather notifications for up to five geo-targeted locations.
- Set quiet periods for chosen weather alerts.
- Add up to 10 delivery methods such as email, cellphone, home phone and text messages.
- Stay in the know on the go with the mobile application, available via iPhone and Android devices.
- Fairfax Alerts is free. You may incur charges from your cellphone company if you have a per-call or per message limit on your mobile device.
Sign up for Fairfax Alerts today at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts.
Registered CEAN users are asked to create a new Fairfax Alerts account before Oct. 1 when CEAN accounts will be deleted. CEAN users will continue to receive alerts until Oct. 1 without registering in Fairfax Alerts, but we highly recommends that you sign up for the new system to receive enhanced alerts.
Posted at 11:20 a.m. /Updated 3:03 p.m.
Last night’s storm caused a significant number of downed trees and power outages in the Belle Haven/New Alexandria area. Public safety, emergency management and public works personnel are in the area responding. Please use caution in the area.
If you have a power outage, call Dominion Virginia Power at 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357), TTY 711; or Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) at 1-888-335-0500 or 703-335-0500, TTY 711 depending on who provides your electrical service.
Other important emergency numbers can be found at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/emergency-phone-numbers.htm.