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Two CERT Classes to Begin Soon

Posted at 9:30 a.m.

CERT - Community Emergency Response TeamThis Saturday, April 26, our Fire and Rescue Department is beginning a basic Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class at the LDS Church in Springfield. There is still plenty of room if you’d like to attend. The class will meet on four Saturdays and run each day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; tentative class dates are April 26, May 3, May 10 and May 24.

Fire and Rescue also has added a new CERT Class at the Fire and Rescue Academy beginning Monday, May 5. This class will meet on every Monday from 7-10:30 p.m. (except for May 26) and will finish on June 23.

To sign up for either class, you first must register as a volunteer at www.fairfaxcert.com to receive registration information on the classes. If you have trouble registering, or have any questions, email fire.cert@fairfaxcounty.gov. Sign up now and get Certified!

CERT helps train people to be better prepared to respond to emergency situations in their communities. When emergencies happen, CERT members can give critical support to first responders, provide immediate assistance to victims and organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site. CERT members also can help with non-emergency projects that help improve the preparedness and safety of the community.

For more information on CERT, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fr.

Small Business Preparedness

Posted at 1:45 p.m.

small business preparedness

An Ad Council survey reported that nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of respondents said they do not have an emergency plan in place for their business.

According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses:

  • Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
  • Employ about half of all private sector employees.
  • Have generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years.

All businesses should have an emergency plan, including small businesses! A successful business emergency plan includes emergency contact information, essential business functions, an alternate location and probable delegations of authority in the event of a disaster.

Here are some great resources to create your business emergency plan:

  • ReadyNOVA provides a free template to create a business emergency plan and will guide you step-by-step through the process.
  • The American Red Cross Ready Rating program is a free, self-guided program designed to help businesses, organizations and schools become better prepared for emergencies. Members complete a 123 point self-assessment of their level of preparedness and have access to tools, tips and best practices to help improve their level of preparedness. The 123 point assessment has been aligned with the federal government’s Private Sector Preparedness standards (PS-Prep).
  • Free business continuity planning software provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is scalable for any organization to create a business continuity plan. It can be used to maintain normal operations and provide resilience during a disruption.

Have questions or want a business presentation? Contact our Office of Emergency Management for more info by phone at 571-350-1000, TTY 711; or email oem@fairfaxcounty.gov.

National 9-1-1 Education Month

Posted at 2 p.m.

National 9-1-1 Education MonthThe National 9-1-1 Education Coalition recognizes April as National 9-1-1 Education Month. This year’s theme is “Be 9-1-1 Ready.”

Here’s a few key things to remember when calling 9-1-1:

  • Know Where You Are: Where are you right now? Can you tell 9-1-1 exactly where to find you?
  • Use a Landline: Whenever possible, use a landline to call 9-1-1. Cellphone calls aren’t always routed to the closest call center and the time it takes to transfer your call to the call center is important in an emergency.
  • Stay Calm and Ready to Listen: 9-1-1 will stay on the line to help you until help arrives. Be ready to listen and follow directions.
  • Never Hang Up – Even if you called 9-1-1 by accident, or if you think the problem has gone away, it is important that you stay on the phone until the call taker tells you it is alright to hang up. It is the call taker’s job to make sure that you are OK and that help has gotten to whoever needs it. In situations where you aren’t able to talk or have to leave, keep the phone off the hook so that the 9-1-1 operator can hear what is going on in the room. Most times, they will be able to use the computers at the 9-1-1 Center to find your address.

Fairfax County’s 9-1-1 Center is the primary 9-1-1 public safety answering point for Fairfax County, as well as the City of Fairfax and the towns of Herndon and Vienna. The center provides the dispatch for all units of the Fairfax County Police Department and Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, including the City of Fairfax Fire Department and the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office.

Fairfax County’s 9-1-1 Center – located at the McConnell Public Safety and Transportation Operations Center (MPSTOC) and collocated on the operations floor with call takers and dispatchers from Virginia State Police and the Virginia Department of Transportation – is one of the 50 largest in the U.S. and the largest in Virginia. Call takers and dispatchers in Fairfax County answer approximately 2,200 calls for assistance daily; some 830,000 annually from the public, both 9-1-1 and non-emergency.

For more information about 9-1-1 Education Month or the county’s 9-1-1 Call Center, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/911.

Know What To Do If You Encounter Flooding This Spring

Posted at 2:30 p.m.

This is Flood Safety Awareness Week (March 16-22), but flooding can happen at any time and anywhere!

Flooding causes more damage in the U.S. than any other weather related event and is the second leading cause of weather related fatalities in the U.S. (behind heat). On average, floods cause $8 billion in damages and over 80 fatalities annually.

Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock over an adult. Only 18 inches of flowing water can carry away most vehicles, including large SUVs. It is impossible to tell the exact depth of water covering a roadway or the condition of the road below the water. This is especially true at night when your vision is more limited. It is never safe to drive or walk through flood waters. Any time you come to a flooded road, walkway or path, follow this simple rule: Turn Around, Don’t Drown.
Turn Around. Don't Drown.
One way to prepare is with flood insurance. Keep your head above water by learning the basics about this special coverage available for homes and businesses. Here’s what you should know:

  • Flood losses are not typically covered under renter and homeowner’s insurance policies.
  • Flood insurance is available in most communities through insurance agents.
  • There is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance goes into effect.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a valuable resource to learn more about your flood risk, how to find an agent, and the flood recovery process. NFIP also offers interactive ways to understand floods. Calculate the cost of flooding, watch real flood testimonials and launch a levee simulator to take your flood knowledge to the next level.

More information about floods and what you should do before, during and after a flood is at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/hazards/flooding.htm.

Winter Storm Warning in Effect Tonight Through Monday Afternoon

Posted at 4:30 p.m.

A National Weather Service winter storm warning is in effect from 7 p.m. this evening until 2 p.m. Monday, March 17. A winter storm warning for heavy snow means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring.

Significant amounts of snow are forecast — accumulations of 4 to 8 inches.

A mix of rain and snow early this evening will change to all snow by mid evening. Snow will continue overnight through early afternoon Monday. The heaviest snow is expected late this evening through early Monday morning.

Roads will become snow covered and slippery.  If you don’t have to be on the roads, stay home — plan to get where you need to be before the weather gets bad. Visit the Virginia Department of Transportation for the latest on the roads.

To stay informed about the storm, continue to follow this blog and be sure to listen to Fairfax County Government Radio.

Red Flag Warning in Effect from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Posted at 7 a.m.

Red Flag WarningA Red Flag Warning is in effect from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, Thursday, March 13, for Fairfax County and Northern Virginia.

A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.

A National Weather Service (NWS) wind advisory also remains in effect until 11 a.m. this morning.

Today’s forecast calls for sunny skies with a high near 35. It will be breezy with a northwest wind 22 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 47 mph. Northwest winds continue tonight, 9 to 14 mph, becoming light and variable after midnight with temperatures around 20.

Get more on the weather by listening to Fairfax County Government Radio, which broadcasts NWS forecasts several times per hour.

Wind Advisory Overnight; Power Outages Possible

Posted at 2:30 p.m.

Wind Advisory in effect overnight

The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory, in effect from 6 p.m. this evening to 11 a.m. Thursday morning, March 13.

Winds are expected to be from the Northwest at 20-30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph.

Should you lose electricity, here are the numbers to report outages:

  • Dominion Virginia Power: 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357), TTY 711.
  • Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC): 1-888-335-0500 or 703-335-0500, TTY 711.

Other tips to consider:

  • Take care driving high profile vehicles.
  • Secure outdoor furniture.
  • If you have a police, fire or medical emergency, call 9-1-1. For non-emergency needs, call 703-691-2131.
  • If you have downed trees, here’s a resource list of who to call.

Emergency Phone Numbers | Weather forecast

Video: Are You Ready for Tuesday’s Tornado Drill

Posted at 3:55 p.m.

Tuesday, March 11, is the statewide tornado drill, beginning at 9:45 a.m.

The tornado drill is an important statewide safety exercise in an effort to prepare for nature’s most violent storms. Virginia has been hit hard in the past by multiple tornadoes that have cost lives and left extensive damage. In fact Virginia has had 70 tornadoes since 2011, with more than $3 million in damage. 


 

When the drill starts at 9:45, immediately protect yourself by going to a designated shelter-in-place or to the center of an interior room on the lowest level away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls.

Find more information on the Statewide Tornado Drill or additional drill resources at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) at http://www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/stayinformed/tornadoes. Find more information on tornadoes from FEMA at http://www.ready.gov/tornadoes.

When it comes to tornadoes, there is no such thing as a “tornado season.” Tornadoes can strike anywhere, anytime, and you need to know the drill — you need to be prepared to act quickly.

Change Your Clocks; Check Your Supplies

Posted at 11:30 a.m.

ClockWe’ve got a time change coming up this weekend. Clocks go forward one hour on Sunday, March 9, which is the beginning of Daylight Saving Time (DST).

So tonight before you go to bed, be sure to change your clocks — move them forward one hour — but also use DST event to take just a little bit of time to be better prepared for emergencies in your home and our community.

  • Change the batteries in your smoke alarms. It only takes a couple of minutes to change your batteries, so this is an easy “to do” item — just be sure you go to the store today and grab some fresh batteries if you don’t already have some on hand.
  • Update the supplies in your emergency supply kits — at home, the office and in your car. With the recent snow you may have used some bottled water or the granola bars, so take a couple of minutes and inventory your supplies. Then while you’re at the store picking up those batteries (see above), get those items you need to keep your emergency kits fully stock.

Learn more about Daylight Saving Time from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

For more on emergency preparedness and making an emergency kit, contact our emergency management office at 571-350-1000, TTY 711.

8 Things to Know for Snow

Posted 7:44 p.m. / Updated 8:45 p.m.

As you’ve likely heard, the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning until 6 p.m. Monday. Governor McAuliffe declared a state of emergency for the Commonwealth. The latest snowfall prediction map is here:

National Weather Service snowfall predictions.As the storm approaches, here are 8 things to know:

1.) VDOT Snow Removal: First, please stay off the roads Monday! The Virginia Department of Transportation is responsible for snow removal on most county roads. VDOT is aggressively pre-treating roads throughout Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties in advance of the snow. You can visit www.vdotplows.org to see the status of plowing in your neighborhood as the storm unfolds.

2.) Where to Park: VDOT recommends parking in your driveway or on the odd-numbered side of the street to allow plows room to pass. Do NOT park on county emergency routes.

3.) Neighbors: Please check in on elderly or other housebound people you may know to make sure they have supplies.

4.) Hypothermia Prevention: If you see an unsheltered person who may be at risk of hypothermia, call the police non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.

5.) Pets: Don’t forget your pets — as conditions deteriorate, bring pets/companion animals inside; move other animals to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

6.) Fire Hydrants: Depending on how much snow we get, there may be a need to dig out fire hydrants. Please note their location near your home before the snow falls. If you’re able and if we get enough snow, please help dig out fire hydrants when the snow ends.

7.) Fill Your Car: If you have a car, fill your gas tank before the snow flies. Here’s more information on winterizing your vehicle.

8.) #ffxstorm: If you’re using Twitter, tell us what you see by using the hashtag #ffxstorm. This is a large storm affecting the northeast, so the more localized info the better! Follow us on Twitter at @fairfaxcounty.

Updated: Government offices, courts and schools will be closed Monday, March 3.

The Community Collaboration Summit for Disaster Resiliency is Upcoming Tuesday, March 25

Posted at 1:30 p.m.

Summit-LogoThe Fairfax County Community Collaboration Summit for Disaster Resiliency is designed for organizations that provide day-to-day support to Fairfax County community members and sustained support when a disaster strikes.

The summit will be held Tuesday, March 25, 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., at Mount Olive Baptist Church, 6600 Old Centreville Road, Centreville.

Organizations such as faith-and community-based organizations, disaster volunteer groups, residential management groups, civic associations and representatives from the private, public and nonprofit sectors involved in disaster recovery should attend.

You can register online at https://2014summit.eventbrite.com.

The summit is sponsored by Volunteer Fairfax, Fairfax County’s Neighborhood and Community Services and Faith Communities in Action.

Statewide Tornado Drill is Two Weeks Away

Posted at 2:30 p.m.

statewide tornado drill March 11, 2014When it comes to tornadoes, there’s no such thing as a “tornado season.”  Tornadoes can strike anywhere, anytime, and you need to know the drill. The annual statewide tornado drill is just two weeks away — Tuesday, March 11. Are you registered to participate?

More than 391,000 Virginians are already signed up and will participate in the tornado drill at 9:45 a.m. on March 11. With at least three tornadoes EF-O tornadoes in Virginia just last month, there’s no better time to practice tornado safety.

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. They can appear suddenly without warning and can be invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears. Be prepared to act quickly.

Participating is easy. All you’ll need to do to prepare your home or business for a tornado is to register for this year’s tornado drill at Ready Virginia.

8 Things to Know for Upcoming Snow Storm

Posted 12:53 p.m.

As you’ve likely heard, the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning from 8 p.m. Wednesday to 8 p.m. Thursday. Governor McAuliffe declared a state of emergency for the Commonwealth. The latest snowfall prediction map is here:

snowfall prection map; 8-10 inches for fairfax county

As the storm approaches, here are 8 things to know:

1.) Get Where You Need to Be Before the Weather Gets Bad: Snow is expected to start falling tonight around 8, so there’s still time to prepare.

2.) VDOT Snow Removal: The Virginia Department of Transportation is responsible for snow removal on most county roads. VDOT is aggressively pre-treating roads throughout Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties in advance of tonight’s heavy snow. By midnight, almost 4,000 trucks will be staged along interstates, major roads and neighborhood streets. You can visit www.vdotplows.org to see the status of plowing in your neighborhood as the storm unfolds.

3.) Neighbors: Please check in on elderly or other housebound people you may know to make sure they have supplies.

4.) Hypothermia Prevention: If you see an unsheltered person who may be at risk of hypothermia, call the police non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.

5.) Pets: Don’t forget your pets — as conditions deteriorate, bring pets/companion animals inside; move other animals to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water. Our Animal Shelter is offering temporary, emergency housing for cats, dogs and small companion animals. If you or someone you know needs to utilize this service, contact the shelter at 703-830-1100, extension 2, or call the police non-emergency number at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.

6.) Fire Hydrants: Depending on how much snow we get, there may be a need to dig out fire hydrants. Please note their location near your home. If you’re able and if we get enough snow, please help dig out fire hydrants when the snow ends.

7.) Fill Your Car: If you have a car, fill your gas tank before the snow flies. Here’s more information on winterizing your vehicle.

8.) #ffxstorm: If you’re using Twitter, tell us what you see by using the hashtag #ffxstorm. This is a large storm affecting the northeast, so the more localized info the better! Follow us on Twitter at @fairfaxcounty.

9 Things to Know for Today’s Snow

Posted 7:35 a.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for our area with an expected 5-8 inches of snow. The heaviest snow is expected this afternoon and wind chills will dip below zero later today. We have a number of updates and tips to share this morning:

  1. Operating Status: Learn what’s open and closed today through our operating status update.
  2. Special Election: The special election for the 33rd Virginia Senate District is still on. You should vote early if you live in the Herndon and Chantilly areas.
  3. Road Snow Removal: The Virginia Department of Transportation handles snow removal on most roads in Fairfax County. If you’re wondering about the status of plowing on major and secondary roads as the day progresses, check out VDOT’s snow plowing map.
  4. Driving Preparedness: Try to get where you need to be before the weather gets bad. If travel is necessary, keep an emergency supply kit in your vehicle and drive safely in case you get stuck on the roads. Ensure you have a full tank of gas this morning.
  5. Neighbors and Neighborhoods: Decide who will check on elderly or neighbors with disabilities.
  6. Snow Shoveling and Removal: Think about your safety and plans for clearing snow from sidewalks, decks and fire hydrants later today. Be careful if you have a heart condition.
  7. Hypothermia Program: If you see an unsheltered person who may be at risk of hypothermia, call the police non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.
  8. Pets: Don’t forget your pets — as the day deteriorates, bring pets/companion animals inside; move other animals to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
  9. #ffxstorm: If you’re using Twitter, tell us what you see by using the hashtag #ffxstorm. This is a large storm affecting the northeast, so the more localized info the better! Follow us on Twitter at @fairfaxcounty.
National Weather Service forecast for snow

National Weather Service forecast for snow

A New Year, Get Prepared

Posted at 10:30 a.m.

What’s on your New Year’s resolution list this year?

Organizing closets and promising to make more trips to the gym are traditional New Year’s resolutions, but the most important thing to do could be making an emergency kit.

President John F. Kennedy once said, “The time to repair a roof is when the sun is shining.” The same can be said for emergency kits. The time to make a kit is when the sun is shining – or before a disaster strikes.

Now that Fairfax County has had a round of winter storms, make sure you answer these questions:

  • What would I need if the power didn’t come back on for a few days?
  • What if I was stuck in my car for 12 hours?
  • How should I prepare?

This year, resolve to be proactive instead of reactive. A situation can quickly escalate to an emergency if you’re not prepared. An emergency kit can alleviate stress in uncertain situations and put you in control to help yourself and others.

Get A Kit – for Home, Work and Car

Be sure to include:

  • First-aid kit.
  • Water (one gallon of water per person per day for a minimum of three days).
  • Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food).
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Whistle to signal for help.
  • Garbage bags and plastic ties.
  • Duct tape and plastic sheeting.
  • Manual can opener for food (if kit contains canned food).
  • Local maps.
  • Infant formula and diapers.
  • Cellphone and chargers.
  • Prescription medications and glasses.
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet.
  • Important family documents (insurance policies, identification and bank account records).
  • Emergency reference materials (first-aid book).
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person.
  • Change of clothing.
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • Matches in a waterproof container.
  • Food supplies, such as mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels.
  • Paper and pencil.
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children.

Make a Plan – Now

It may be difficult to communicate with family and friends through traditional means during and after an emergency. Establish your out-of-town emergency contact and where you will meet your family if you are unable to return home.

Not sure how to get started? Go to www.ReadyNova.org for an easy-to-use template for making a personalized family emergency plan.

Stay Informed Learn the resources available to you before a disaster. Bookmark Fairfax County’s emergency blog to keep up with weather updates, county closings and more at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/blog. And sign up for the Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN) for timely emergency alerts at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/cean.

Now is the time to prepare for the unexpected. Resolve to make your emergency kit and then follow through! For more on emergency kits, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency.

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