Posted at 12:30 p.m.
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA),short emergency messages that can be received on some cellphones across the country, are one of the many technologies available through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).
WEAs are automatic and can provide emergency weather and imminent threat notifications, AMBER alerts and Presidential messages. Unlike text alerts you may receive from Fairfax County, WEAs are not subscription based, so customers of participating wireless carriers with WEA-capable phones do not sign up to receive the alerts.
The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies (Wireless RERC) is interested in learning more about your level of awareness of WEA messages. They are conducting a survey to help understand the accessibility of this unique technology and how it impacts your community.
Take the online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WirelessRERC_WEA_Survey.
Posted at 1 p.m.
This week, Dec. 1-7, is Winter Preparedness Week in Virginia. Are you ready for “old man winter” and possible inclement weather?
Whitney Kazragis, community outreach liaison with our Office of Emergency Management, offers several tips to prepare for the upcoming winter season, including what items to have in your home and car emergency supply kit.
Posted at 1 p.m.
While temperatures are somewhat milder this week, we did get a sneak peek at cold, winter weather over the Thanksgiving holidays. And Mother Nature is certainly getting ready to bring us colder temperatures and perhaps ice and snow — there’s a slight chance of snow next Monday — are you ready for winter weather?
This week, Dec. 1-7, is Winter Preparedness Week across Virginia, a great time to take a few minutes and make sure you have everything you need to be ready for wintry weather.
According to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the National Weather Service (NWS) predictions for the winter of 2013-14 in Virginia suggest normal temperatures and precipitation for the season.
“We don’t see indications of an extremely cold winter in Virginia. However, the potential for normal snowfall and/or ice means we need to be ready for disruptions in travel and schedules,” said Bill Sammler, NWS Wakefield warning coordination meteorologist.
Winter Preparedness Tips
There are several easy things you can do to make sure that you and your family are better prepared for winter.
First, and you’ve heard this one before, but you need to take action and get an emergency supply kit. Imagine you can’t leave home because of a winter storm or you lost electricity for hours or days due to a winter storm. Your basic emergency supply kit should include:
- Three days’ food that doesn’t need refrigeration or electricity to prepare it.
- Three days’ water (a gallon per person per day).
- A battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio with extra batteries.
- A basic first-aid kit, with a supply of prescription medications.
- Extra blankets and warm clothing.
- Supplies for special members of your household, and don’t forget food and items for your pets.
Next, make a plan. Everyone needs an emergency plan. Decide who your out-of-town emergency contact will be and where will you meet up with family members if you can’t return home?
Third, get connected with ways to stay informed. Before, during and after a winter storm, you should:
- Listen to local media for weather information and news; don’t forget Fairfax County Government Radio for current weather forecasts and county news.
- Be aware of winter storm watches and warnings and road conditions. You can sign up for free email and text alerts via our emergency alert system.
- Bookmark this emergency information blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Stay Off the Roads, Not Out in the Weather
Finally, remember this phrase to enjoy a safe winter: “Get where you need to go before the weather gets bad.” By staying off roadways during snow, freezing rain or sleet, you’ll be safer and give more room to snowplows clearing the streets and public safety officials to have less traffic to navigate during bad weather.
“One heavy snowstorm with power outages is enough to disrupt schedules and cause people to wish they had prepared better,” said Michael Cline, state coordinator of emergency management. It’s much safer to take a little time now and get ready before a winter storm arrives.”
“Fall Back” and Gain an Hour of Sleep
Published at 11:45 a.m.
Daylight Saving Time (DST) officially ends Sunday morning, Nov. 3, at 2 a.m. And that means we need to turn clocks back an hour to standard time. Many of us aren’t up at 2 a.m. — or plan to get up at that time — just to change our clocks. So remember to move all your clocks back one hour before you go to bed Saturday night.
Daylight Saving Time is something we don’t pay much attention to — it’s just part of life every March and November to move our clocks. This year we’re asking that you make DST a bigger event in your home.
In addition to changing the time on your clocks, make it your goal to accomplish these two tasks before you go to bed tomorrow night to make sure you’re prepared for any possible emergency:
- First, change the batteries in your smoke alarms. For years, fire officials have encouraged changing the batteries in your smoke alarms every six months; what better reminder than Daylight Saving Time. Since it only takes a couple of minutes to change your batteries this is an easy “to do” item.
- Second, check your emergency supply kits (both in the home and your vehicles). Are they fully stocked? If not, make a quick list of what you need to get them ready, run to the store and update your kits. We’re still in hurricane season and winter weather will soon be here, so you’ll want to make sure you and your family are prepared for any possible emergency.
Being prepared doesn’t take a lot of time or money. But you do have to take action. So — change your smoke alarm batteries and update your emergency supply kits. And don’t forget to turn your clocks back one hour before you go to bed tomorrow night.
Our Fire Department’s “Safety in Our Community” (SIOC) program, which began in June, has firefighters canvassing homes in neighborhoods every Saturday afternoon, checking for working smoke alarms. Firefighters install batteries and/or smoke alarms free of charge and offer home safety inspections and seasonal fire and safety information as part of the SIOC program. For more life safety information and details on the SIOC initiative, visit fairfaxcounty.gov/fr.
For more on emergency preparedness and making an emergency kit, contact our emergency management office at 571-350-1000, TTY 711.
Streaming Live 24/7 to Keep You in Touch with Fairfax County
Posted at 1:30 p.m.
After the June 2012 Derecho storm, we conducted a community survey about communications. Nearly 6,000 respondents answered questions and generated nearly 18,000 individual comments, which provided us with some great insight for communications during future emergencies. For example, the second highest ranked way to access emergency information was radio, only behind mobile devices.
In the feedback provided, it also was suggested by many respondents that we create our own radio station that we program ourselves, so you don’t have to wait for commercial stations to get around to sharing Fairfax County-specific messages.
So, as an after action, we have created our own Fairfax County Government radio station, an online Internet station that will be programmed and run by the Office of Public Affairs.
One day we hope to fulfill our complete audio vision of public information by fully utilizing the 1670 AM radio spectrum we currently own and producing even more audio content for the county’s SoundCloud account. For now, we’re excited to be able to provide this Internet station. You can listen online as well as on your mobile device, meaning that you’ll be able to hear Fairfax County Government Radio 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in multiple ways anywhere you may be.
And during emergencies, we will use the station to share important emergency information in an audio format, the same way we currently use other platforms — like this blog as well as our emergency alert system where you can get emergency alerts by both text and email.
The station is now live and we hope that you will tune in and listen.
Posted at 11:30 a.m.
September was National Preparedness Month. Did you build – or update – your emergency supply kit? Does your family have an emergency plan?
If not, it’s okay. You can make your plan at any time. The important part is to make a plan.
When it comes to being ready in a crisis, it’s all about preparedness. Winging it is not an emergency plan. Talk to your kids about who to call, where to meet, what to pack. And check out the video below for a humorous look at how NOT to make your plan.
Posted at 4 p.m.
Does your emergency plan include all members of your family? Remember any special needs for elderly family members as well as children, and don’t forget your pets.
Learn more about emergency preparedness at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency.
Posted at 3:30 p.m.
David McKernan, coordinator of emergency management, encourages residents to take the personal responsibility to be prepared for emergencies, which includes making a plan, building a kit and staying informed. Residents can keep up-to-date with the latest preparedness information and emergency news during times of crisis through emergency alerts, the emergency information blog and other sources.
Posted at 11 a.m.
Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the horrible tragedy at the Washington Navy Yard, especially those who died and their families.
In the aftermath of Monday’s shooting at the Navy Yard, we encourage you to watch this video about how to survive an active shooter event produced by the City of Houston (and funded by a Department of Homeland Security grant).
Entitled “Run. Hide. Fight. Surviving an Active Shooter Event,” the video depicts a fictional shooting incident in a crowded office building.
Posted at 2:45 p.m.
Pets are part of our families. So be sure to include items in your family emergency kit that your pet will need should disaster strike.
Learn more at www.Ready.gov/animals.
Posted at 1:15 p.m.
In this video, David McKernan, coordinator of emergency management, discusses emergency supply kits, their importance and what should be part of a kit.
September is National Preparedness Month, so it’s the perfect opportunity to take a few minutes and get better prepared by putting together an emergency supply kit for your home, office and vehicle(s). Learn more about emergency supply kits and how to assemble one.
Posted at 2 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 11, marks the 12th anniversary of the terrorists attacks that took the lives of nearly 3,000 men, women and children.
By presidential proclamation, Americans are called on to participate in a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time to honor the victims who died as a result of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Flags should also be displayed at half-staff in honor of the individuals who lost their lives.
You may also wish to observe the day with ceremonies and activities, including remembrance services. Visit USA.gov’s 9/11 Commemorations and Memorials to learn about:
- Memorials in New York, NY; Washington, D.C.; and near Shanksville, PA.
- Sept. 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.
- Photos, recovered objects and eyewitness accounts from 9/11.
- Emergency preparedness efforts.
The county’s Memorial Grove, located on the Government Center grounds, is also a space where you may want to take a moment and reflect.
Remember to observe a moment of silence Wednesday, Sept. 11, starting at 8:46 a.m. and take steps during National Preparedness Month to build — or re-supply — your emergency supply kit, make a plan for your family and business, and commit to stay informed.
Posted at 1:20 p.m.
In case you haven’t heard, September is the 10th annual National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
One of the goals of highlighting preparedness during September is to educate about the importance of preparedness, as well as how to prepare for emergencies, including natural disasters, mass casualties, biological and chemical threats, radiation emergencies and terrorist attacks.
All of these hazards – and others – are also something the county is planning and preparing for as well. David McKernan, coordinator of our emergency management office, says his office has several main functions, one of which is planning for numerous emergency possibilities — natural and manmade.
McKernan stressed that while the county is preparing for all types of hazards, residents also need to prepare by assembling an emergency supply kit.
“Make sure you have emergency food, water, medications and other supplies in an emergency kit so you can sustain yourself for at least three days,” he said, adding that medications are an often overlooked, important part of an emergency supply kit.
We’ve got suggestions and more information on how to put together an emergency supply kit and what should be included on our preparedness Web page. In addition, Ready.gov has some good info on how to build an emergency supply kit.
National Preparedness Month is underway and we need your help.
This month we invite you to take a look at list of 30 easy, practical ways you and your family, business or faith community can become better prepared.
How can you help spread the word? That’s easy.
- Join our social media campaign through your Twitter or Facebook accounts. Visit this page: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/3686-30-easy-emergency-prep-ideas
- Click the orange buttons to show your support through Twitter or Facebook.
- If we reach our goal of 100 supporters, then on Monday, Sept. 9, at 11:30 a.m., a tweet or Facebook update will be posted automatically to your friends and followers telling them about your commitment to emergency preparedness. Right now, our message would reach nearly 85,000 people at the same time.
We’re about 75 percent of the way to our goal. Can you help your community by serving as an information ambassador — and spare a tweet or Facebook post?
Posted at 4:30 p.m.
September is National Preparedness Month. In this video, David McKernan, coordinator of our Office of Emergency Management, discusses the importance of having an emergency plan for you and your family — as well as available resources to help prepare a family plan.
Planning may be the single most important thing you can do, and it’s free. Make sure everyone in your family understands where to go and what to do in case of an emergency. Update your contact information and post it in visible places in your home and workplace. For help, use the free emergency plan worksheet at www.ReadyVirginia.gov or use the online preparedness planning tool for families and businesses at www.ReadyNoVa.org.
Learn more about emergency preparedness.