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 use 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 earthquake 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 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 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 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.
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 10 a.m.
This week — especially today — is hot and humid outside. Temperatures will be in the upper 90s today and it only “cools” down to the upper 80s later this week, definitely weather fitting for the first day of summer this Saturday.
If you work outdoors, especially anyone doing heavy work tasks or using bulky protective clothing and equipment, you should take steps to prevent heat illness:
- Drink water often.
- Take breaks.
- Limit time in the heat.
And please remember — never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle!
Fairfax County Cooling Centers
With these high temperature and heat index, there is an increased risk of heat-related illness for those without air-conditioning or those outdoors for an extended period.
During extremely hot days, there is plenty that you can do to stay cool, like go to a movie, stroll through a shopping center or visit one of Fairfax County’s Cooling Centers:
Please check the operating hours to ensure the facility is open before arriving. Remember — resting for just two hours in air conditioning can significantly reduce heat-related illnesses.
There are many tips online for staying cool; heat safety tips are available online also. Residents who need help to keep their home cool may be able to get assistance from two programs locally administered by the county.
Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency — call 9-1-1 for immediate, life-saving help.
Find more information from the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health as well as the county’s emergency Web page.
Posted at 11:45 a.m.
Did you know that every four minutes someone in the U.S dies from an unintentional injury? That’s 120,000 people a year; 67 percent of all injury-related deaths.
June is National Safety Month, a time to emphasize safety — both at home and at the work place. According to Judy Schambach, loss prevention analyst with our Risk Management Division, the cost of unintentional injuries in the U.S. is staggering.
She adds that now is a great time to make some simple changes to prevent tragedy. For example:
- Look for and replace carpets and mats that are worn and can cause a tripping hazard.
- Replace missing bricks or repair holes in walk paths that could cause someone to trip and fall.
- When outside, be sure you wear the proper safety gear, like goggles, non-slip work boots and gloves when mowing the lawn, trimming bushes or other yard work.
In addition, Schambach offers an easy step everyone can take immediately to check for potential hazards.
Let’s all take a few minutes and make some simple changes to avoid unintentional injuries. Learn more about National Safety Month.
Posted at 10 a.m.
- A new smart weather module to customize weather alerts and the times in which they are received.
- A mobile app for receiving alerts.
- Select two-way communication between you and our emergency managers.
The system goes live Thursday, June 19. Learn more at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts.
Posted at 1:45 p.m.
June is National Safety Month and the National Safety Council is calling on everyone to take notice of the fifth leading cause of death – unintentional injuries. Every four minutes someone in the U.S dies from an unintentional injury. That’s 120,000 people a year. Sixty-seven percent of all injury-related deaths in the U.S. are due to unintentional causes, compared to just 9 percent to homicide.
One of the top three causes of unintentional injury in the U.S. is falls. In 2012, 27,800 deaths can be attributed to falls, with seven out of 10 of these deaths affecting adults over 74 years of age. These statistics are not just numbers — they are our family members and co-workers.
In this video, Wally Simmons with our Risk Management Division, provides several tips to help you avoid slips, trips and falls at home and at work.
This year’s National Safety Month theme, Safety: it Takes All of Us, is a call for everyone to make simple changes to prevent tragedy in your workplace, home or car, such as:
- Use slip-resistant mats on floors.
- When getting out of a vehicle, create points of contact by holding onto the door, roof or assist handle.
- Reduce the risk of falls in your home by adding handrails, maintaining good housekeeping and cleaning spills right when they happen.
- If you need to use a ladder, read the instructions carefully and maintain three points contact with it at all times.
- Keep floor surfaces clean, and make sure wet-floor warning signs are posted in and around wet floor areas.
Posted at 10 a.m.
Fairfax Alerts — Fairfax County’s new emergency alert system — won’t go live until later this month. However, if you’re planning to be at Celebrate Fairfax this weekend (June 6-8), you’ll have the opportunity to pre-register and be one of the first in the county on the new system.
Get more information on Fairfax Alerts at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts — and stay tuned for details to be announced later this month when the system goes live and how you can sign up to receive alerts.
Posted at 10 a.m.
This week (June 1-7) is Rip Current Awareness Week. To heighten awareness of rip currents at surf beaches, each year NOAA designates the first full week of June as national Rip Current Awareness Week, coinciding with the traditional start of the summer vacation season.
A rip current is a horizontal current. Rip currents do not pull people under the water — they pull people away from shore. Drowning deaths occur when people pulled offshore are unable to keep themselves afloat and swim to shore. This may be due to any combination of fear, panic, exhaustion or lack of swimming skills.
What Are Rip Currents?
Rip currents are the leading surf hazard for all beachgoers. They are particularly dangerous for weak or non-swimmers. Rip current speeds are typically 1-2 feet per second. However, speeds as high as 8 feet per second have been measured — this is faster than an Olympic swimmer can sprint! Thus, rip currents can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea.
Over 100 drownings due to rip currents occur every year in the United States. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents, and more than 100 people die annually from drowning in rip currents.
Rip currents can occur at any surf beach with breaking waves, including the Great Lakes.
How to Identify Rip Currents
Look for any of these clues:
A channel of churning, choppy water.
An area having a notable difference in water color.
A line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily seaward.
A break in the incoming wave pattern.
None, one or more of the above clues may indicate the presence of rip currents. Rip currents are often not readily or easily identifiable to the average beachgoer. For your safety, be aware of this major surf zone hazard.
Avoid and Survive Rip Currents
Remember these safety tips to avoid — and survive — a rip current:
- Never swim alone.
- Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches. If in doubt, don’t go out!
- Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard protected beach.
- Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards.
- If caught in a rip current, remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
- Don’t fight the current. Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
- If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
- If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself: face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.
- If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1 . Throw the rip current victim something that floats and yell instructions on how to escape. Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.
Posted at 2 p.m.
Many of you have heard of and are currently signed up for emergency alerts from CEAN — the Community Emergency Alert Network.
Fairfax Alerts will deliver important emergency alerts, notifications and updates during a major crisis or emergency, in addition to day-to-day notices about weather and traffic. Learn more at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts — and stay tuned for the official launch of Fairfax Alerts coming next month.
If you are currently signed up on CEAN, you will continue to receive emergency alerts until the new system is implemented, and you will receive a notification on how to receive alerts once Fairfax Alerts is launched.