Posted at 3:15 p.m.
Whether you are playing or working outside this summer, you need to take precautions to stay safe in the sun. As part of our National Safety Month series, Fairfax County’s Risk Management Division and Office of Emergency Management offer these tips.
Be Sun Smart
- Cover up: Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brim hat, and wear sunglasses that block UV rays. Ideal sunglasses block 99-100 percent of the UV rays (both UVA and UVB).
- Use Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher: The number of the SPF represents the level of sunburn protection provided. The sun’s UV rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes. Put on sunscreen before you go outside even on cloudy or cool days. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if you are active and sweating or swimming. Old sunscreens should be thrown away because they lose their potency after one to two years.
- Limit direct exposure: UV rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Limit time outdoors during these hours and seek shade whenever possible.
- Drink fluids: Drink plenty of fluids regardless of your activity level. Water or sports beverages are recommended. Stay away from beverages that contain caffeine, alcohol or large quantities of sugar.
- Stay indoors: Stay in air conditioning in places like your home, or a local shopping center or library. A few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler before you go back into the heat.
- Check family and friends: Keep an eye on family members, friends and neighbors. Pay close attention and check regularly on young children and those 65 or older. Here are additional sun safety tips for babies and children.
More information on summer and heat safety is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You also may want to watch this video from the National Institutes of Health – Protecting Yourself From Skin Cancer. Get a heat safety fact sheet (pictured above) from OSHA, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Spanish verion); more tips on OSHA’s heat safety Web page.
Falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States, according to the National Safety Council. June is National Safety Month and a good time to review how you can avoid slips, trips and falls all year long.
Watch Where You Walk and Climb Ladders with Caution
- Ensure adequate lighting at your home both indoors and outdoors.
- Remove debris from exterior walkways.
- Periodically check the condition of walkways and steps, and repair damages immediately.
- Arrange furniture to provide open walking pathways.
- Secure electrical and phone cords out of traffic areas.
- Always keep at least three points of contact with a ladder (two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand).
- A straight or extension ladder should be placed 1 foot away from the surface it rests against for every 4 feet of ladder height.
- Place the base of the ladder on a firm, solid surface.
- Do not use ladders outdoors in windy or inclement weather.
Posted 6:52 a.m.
There are two main lines of thunderstorms associated with today’s weather that may affect Fairfax County.
The first line will be between 8 and 10 a.m. and could impact the morning commute. However, this will be the less severe of the two lines of storms. The second storm will be in the area between 2 and 8 p.m. and could produce gusts in excess of 60-80 MPH. The storms are fast moving and should not last in any one area very long.
Sustained winds over the course of the day will be between 15-25 MPH, with gusts up to 35 MPH. Total rainfall is expected to be between 1-2 inches. Isolated tornado threats are still possible for Fairfax County, however the higest risk will be along the I-95 corridor between Washington D.C. and Baltimore.
In case you missed it yesterday, here are 7 tips to prepare for this storm.
Posted at 3:45 p.m.
Heat-related illnesses (heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke) can occur when high temperatures overcome the body’s natural ability to dissipate heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Older adults, young children and people with chronic medical conditions are particularly susceptible to these illnesses. The CDC notes that from 1979-2003, excessive heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States. During this period, more people in this country died from extreme heat than from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined.
Heat Safety Basics
- Drink plenty of fluids: Drink two to four glasses of cool fluids each hour. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty.
- Do not drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages because they dehydrate the body.
- Keep cool indoors: If you can, stay in an air-conditioned area. Resting for just two hours in air conditioning can significantly reduce heat-related illnesses. Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, movie theaters, shopping malls and other community facilities.
- Electric fans may provide comfort, but with temperatures in the 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
- Plan outdoor activities around the heat. If you must go outside, go before noon or at night when it’s cooler.
- Avoid strenuous physical activities or reschedule them for the coolest part of the day, usually the early morning. Limit physical activity until your body adjusts to the heat.
- Never leave children or pets unattended in a car — not even for a few minutes.
- Older adults and those with special medical needs are at an increased risk of developing heat related illnesses. Check on elderly relatives and neighbors during periods of extreme heat.
Swimming pool season is here. Many area pools opened over the Memorial Day holiday and are a great way to seek relief from summer heat. But you should also exercise caution to avoid accidental drownings and water-related injuries.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is a leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4 and the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages.
Pool Safety Rules
- Never leave children unsupervised near pools. A tragedy can occur in seconds. If you must leave, take the child with you.
- Make sure children learn to swim from a qualified instructor. Take lessons at a Park Authority ReCenter.
- Take frequent breaks. Exhaustion may occur due to excessive activity and sun exposure.
- Never overestimate swimming ability or knowledge of water-survival skills.
- Ensure pool areas are fenced off to eliminate the chances a child will accidentally fall into the water in unsupervised areas.
- Never use flotation devices as substitutes for supervision.
- Never dive without first determining the water depth. Look for No Diving signs. Dive only when it is safe to do so.
- Never swim during lightning storms. The National Lightning Safety Institute recommends staying out of or around a pool until thirty minutes after the last thunder is heard.
- Keep a safety buoy with a rope or pole beside the pool in the event a rescue is necessary.
- Always have a first-aid kit and emergency phone contacts nearby.
- Take a CPR class.
- Avoid alcohol and stay sober in or near the water. Alcohol affects your balance, coordination and can impair your swimming skills.
- Prevent recreational water illnesses by keeping poop, germs, and pee out of the water. Learn more from the Fairfax County Health Department.
Stay tuned to the blog all month for more safety tips during National Safety Month.
Posted at 12 p.m.
Our Fire and Rescue Department, under the leadership of new Fire Chief Richard Bowers, will launch a new countywide community outreach initiative — “Safety In Our Community” (SIOC) — this weekend, supporting the overarching goal of preventing the 9-1-1 call.
The SIOC initiative will begin tomorrow, Saturday, June 8, from 2 to 4 p.m., when firefighters will be in the community checking and installing working smoke alarms. They also will provide seasonal fire and life safety tips. If you are not home, firefighters will leave behind a door hanger with important smoke alarm and fire and life safety information.
The SIOC initiative will continue every Saturday afternoon throughout the summer, fall and spring, with accompanying seasonal safety messages.
To request the installation of a smoke alarm, or a visual smoke alarm for deaf and hard of hearing persons – at no cost – call 703-246-3801, TTY 711, or visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fr.
Posted at 6:30 a.m.
The latest National Weather forecast calls for heavy rain bands to move into our area today with the heaviest rain expected mid-day continuing into the evening. We already received roughly 1-2 inches of rainfall overnight and officials are anticipating another 2 to 4 inches of rain today.
Based on the latest NWS forecast we may experience significant street flooding in the Huntington area and localized street flooding in the Belle View/New Alexandria areas. Residents in those areas of the county are encouraged to move their vehicles to higher ground. Use common sense and don’t park in restricted areas.
At this point, structural flooding is not anticipated in either the Huntington or Belle View/New Alexandria areas.
A flash flood watch has been issued for the majority of the National Capital Region, including Fairfax County, with heavy rainfall expected during the day and into the evening. A flash flood watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation.
Excessive runoff from heavy rains may lead to flash flooding of low lying areas and small streams. Parents are reminded to keep children away from streams and rivers as they may overflow very quickly and with saturated river banks, playing near moving water is a dangerous situation. Please keep children away from creeks/streams that may rise rapidly.
If you are in your car, remember “Turn Around; Don’t Drown.” Water may be much deeper than you think, causing your car to stall or even get stuck in hidden debris; road beds may be washed out under flood waters. Just six inches of swiftly moving water can knock someone off their feet and approximately two feet of swift water can move or float most vehicles, including SUV’s and pickup trucks. Don’t get trapped in flood waters – find an alternative route.
You probably already are familiar with them, but here’s a list of roads that traditionally flood in Fairfax County.
You should continue to monitor the weather forecast for updated information and be prepared to take action as necessary.
National Weather Service Radar
Posted at 12:55 p.m.
According to the National Hurricane Center, tropical storm conditions are beginning to move onshore along the west coast of Florida as Tropical Storm Andrea approaches landfall.
The Capital Weather Gang reports “the NHC forecast and models are in excellent agreement on the future track of Andrea… with a landfall expected later this afternoon near Perry, Fla. (between Tallahassee and Gainesville), then racing northeast over the Carolinas during the first half of Friday, eastern Virginia and the Delmarva peninsula later on Friday, then finally offshore and toward Nova Scotia on Saturday.”
For us here in Virginia — and Fairfax County – the effects from Andrea will generally be seen late Friday morning into the evening. The forecast calls for rain as our main threat; winds will be minimal based on current models.
According to emergency management officials, based on the current track, rainfall is forecast to be heaviest east of the Interstate 95 corridor to the coast. Here in Northern Virginina, the weather forecast predicts 1-2 inches of rain with locally higher amounts possible; flash flooding also is possible in poor drainage and low lying areas on Friday. Meanwhile, tides in the Alexandria area are predicted to be approximately ½ foot above normal.
Based on the latest forecast track, NWS rainfall predictions and tide forecast, at this time county officials do not anticipate any structural flooding in the Huntington or BelleView/New Alexandria areas.
Be sure to monitor local weather forecasts, NOAA weather radio and CEAN weather alerts for more information on Tropical Storm Andrea should conditions change.
The Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, has closed as of 3 p.m. this afternoon, Wednesday, June 5, due to an extended power outage.
It is anticipated that the facility will reopen tomorrow, Thursday, June 6. If the situation changes, information will be posted here on the blog and announced via CEAN, the Community Emergency Alert Network.
Posted at 3:45 p.m.
June is National Safety Month and we will be providing critical summer safety messages twice a week throughout the month.
Fairfax County’s Risk Management Division and the Office of Emergency Management encourage all of us to take a few minutes this month to become aware of some of leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths, and the easy steps you can take to stay healthy and injury-free. Some of the topics we will cover this month will include safety; slips, trips and falls prevention, and how to safely play and work in the summer heat.
Take your first step today toward a safe and healthy summer – Stay Informed:
- Register for emergency alerts from CEAN — the Community Emergency Alert Network. You’ll be able to get alerts delivered to your email account(s) and as text messages to your cellphone.
- Get email updates from this emergency blog. Sign up at the top of the right column. You can also receive blog updates via RSS as well.
- Subscribe to NewsWire and receive county news and information by Twitter, email or RSS feeds.
- Add links to the mobile version of our website to your smartphone – as well as FEMA, the American Red Cross, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Weather Service.
- Follow our social media sites (Twitter and Facebook).
- Add apps to your smartphone. Fairfax County has one, as well as the American Red Cross and FEMA.
- Bookmark www.CapitalRegionUpdates.gov for regional news and information, weather reports and links to valuable preparedness and response resources.
Information on summer and heat safety.
Posted at 4:15 p.m.
Hurricane season began on Saturday, June 1, and according to the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, this is expected to be an active Atlantic Hurricane season. We were affected by Hurricane Sandy last year and a slight turn westward would have impacted us more. We all need to be ready.
Our Office of Emergency Management encourages residents to take some simple steps now to ensure that you and your family are prepared in case of hurricanes or other severe weather.
Hurricane Preparedness Tips
Among the steps you should take now:
- Assemble an emergency supply kit. If you already have one, check it to make sure all supplies are accounted for and re-stock items as necessary.
- Cut dead trees and limbs that could fall on your home.
- Learn the difference between a watch and a warning.
- A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
- A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
- If your home or business is in a flood-prone area, make sure you have a current flood insurance policy (not typically part of a standard insurance policy). A 30-day waiting period is generally required to purchase flood insurance, so take time now to visit your insurance agent to learn more.
- Take pictures of your property before the storm to help validate your claim and remember to take your policies with you if you need to evacuate.
Learn more from our preparedness Web page as well as Ready.gov. For easy access to hurricane information on your phone, download the free Hurricane App from the American Red Cross (iPhone and Android). It will help you track storms, prepare your family and home, get help, and more.
Posted at 1:50 p.m.
To encourage preparation for hurricane/flooding season, which begins June 1, Virginia has a sales tax holiday for purchasing hurricane/emergency supplies. Many useful and everyday items are on this list.
The statewide Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday is underway, through May 31. During this time you can save money on sales tax for a wide variety of items to help you, your family and your business prepare for hurricanes.
So what type of items are tax-exempt? Check out the Infographic below for details.
For more on the sales tax holiday, visit www.ReadyVirginia.gov.
Posted: 10 a.m.
The Atlantic Hurricane season starts June 1. To get prepared, and to save money, our emergency management officials encourage you to take advantage of the statewide hurricane sales tax holiday.
Shop May 25-31, during the sales tax holiday, and you won’t pay sales tax on supplies for protecting your home and business.
Check out the video below for details on what you should put in your emergency kit – and what’s eligible for tax savings.
Posted at 1:45 p.m.
Among the topics covered in this issue is the upcoming statewide Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday, May 25-31, which is a great time to stock up on emergency supplies and save money at the same time. Also featured is information about the new Wireless Emergency Alerts now available in Fairfax County and the region; being financially prepared for emergencies and ready for disasters at any age; what to do in weather emergencies; roadside tornado safety; being tech ready and much more.
If you would like to subscribe to the Emergency Preparedness newsletter, just follow these simiple steps:
- Go to: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/email/lists/.
- To subscribe/start, go to the “Emergency Management” section, then select the circle next to ”Emergency Preparedness news and resources” under the “Start” column. (To unsubscribe/discontinue, select the circle next to the information you want to unsubscribe under the “Stop” column.)
- Once you have completed your selection, scroll to the bottom of the list and click “Continue.“
Posted at 10:35 a.m.
The National Weather Service has partnered with the National Safe Boating Council to help promote Safe Boating Week, May 18-24. Remember the following tips this year while enjoying being on the water.
Vessel Safety Checks
This boating season, make sure that you take advantage of the Vessel Safety Check (VSC), program – a free, no risk, service provided in your area by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the U.S. Power Squadrons. A qualified vessel examiner will conduct an inspection of all the required safety equipment carried or installed on a vessel and certain aspects of the vessel’s overall condition. Even if you pay careful attention to safety, dangerous mechanical problems can crop up on the best-maintained boat. That’s why the U.S. Coast Guard recommends that all recreational boats (including personal watercraft) get a free VSC each year.
A VSC is your best way of learning about conditions that might put you in violation of state or federal laws or, worse, create an unsafe condition for you or your passengers on the water. If the vessel meets all requirements, the examiner will award a Vessel Safety Check decal. If your vessel fails to receive a VSC decal, no law enforcement action is taken and the examiner will provide a list of items for correction.
Before you and your family get out on the water this year, grab a life jacket and “Wear It!” Nearly 85 percent of those who drown while boating were not wearing a life jacket.
Wearing a life jacket is one of the most effective and simple life-saving strategies for safe recreational boating. Boaters are required to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket on board for every passenger on their vessel.
Today’s life jackets are available in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. They are comfortable, lightweight, and perfect for any boating activity.
The most important thing to remember: Grab a life jacket and “Wear It!”
Understanding a marine forecast is critical to safe boating. Weather and wave conditions can change suddenly, catching boaters off guard and creating life threatening conditions. Before setting out, obtain the latest marine forecast and warning information from www.weather.gov/marine or on a NOAA Weather Radio.
Typical marine forecasts predict wind speed and direction, wave heights and periods, roughness of near shore waters, and significant weather. Marine forecasts cover large areas and the forecast elements are often given in ranges. The significant weather may not occur over the entire area or during the entire forecast period. The ranges represent average conditions over a period of time (usually 12 hours) and the actual conditions may be lower or higher than the forecast range. Boaters should plan for conditions above and below the predicted ranges.
Take particular note of any current advisories and warnings, including Small Craft Advisories, Gale or Storm Warnings which alert mariners to either high winds or waves occurring now or forecast to occur up to 24 hours from now. Special Marine Warnings are issued for sudden increase in winds to over 35 knots (40 mph), waterspouts (tornadoes over water), and hail of 3/4 inches or greater and indicate a more immediate threat. Marine weather statements bring attention to significant rapidly changing conditions on the water including increase in winds, non severe thunderstorms, development of dense fog and even snow squalls or strong and gusty rain showers.
You should have a marine VHF transceiver with built-in NOAA Weather Radio channels. If you venture beyond about a 25 nautical mile range from shore, you should consider buying a good quality HF single sideband transceiver and satellite phone.
Thunderstorms can be a mariner’s worst nightmare. They can develop quickly and create dangerous wind and wave conditions. Thunderstorms can bring shifting and gusty winds, lightning, waterspouts, and torrential downpours which can turn a day’s pleasure into a nightmare of distress.
There are no specific warnings or advisories for lightning but all thunderstorms produce lightning. A lightning strike to a vessel can be catastrophic, especially if it results in a fire or loss of electronics. If your boat has a cabin, then stay inside and avoid touching metal or electrical devices. If your boat doesn’t have a cabin, stay as low as you can in the boat.
Boaters should use extra caution when thunderstorm conditions exist and have a plan of escape. Mariners are especially vulnerable as at times they may unable to reach port quickly. It is therefore strongly recommended you do not venture out if thunderstorms are a possibility. If you do venture out and recognize thunderstorms nearby, head to port or safe shelter as quickly as possible. Ultimately, boating safety begins ashore with planning and training. Keep in mind that thunderstorms are usually brief so waiting it out is better than riding it out.