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Reporting Power Outages and Downed Trees

Posted at 4:20 p.m.

ice covered treeSporadic power outages have been reported in the county. Heavy snow could cause downed trees and power outages. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

If a Tree Hits Your Home

  1. Get everyone safely out of your house. Use your cellphone or go to a neighbor and call 9-1-1.
  2. Go to a nearby shelter (another home or open public facility) to stay dry and out of the elements.
  3. Stay away from the home until public safety employees can access the home for structural stability and ensure utilities are controlled.
  4. Only after all of these safety measures have taken place should you call your insurance company.

For downed trees:

  • Adjacent to Public Roads: Contact Virginia Department of Transportation at 1-800-FOR-ROAD, TTY 711.
  • On County Parkland: Contact Fairfax County Park Authority at 703-324-8594, TTY 703-324-3988.
  • Posing Hazard to Public Areas: Contact Fairfax County Urban Forestry at 703-324-1770, TTY 703-324-1877.
  • On Private Property: Removal is the property owner’s responsibility.

Power Outages

If your power goes out report your outage; never assume a neighbor has reported it.

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

In addition, follow these safety tips:

  • Use a flashlight for emergency lighting. Never use candles.
  • Unplug electrical equipment until a steady power supply returns.
  • Practice proper generator and surface heater safety.
  • Leave one light turned on so you know when power is restored.
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion. If you come upon a non-working traffic signal, treat each traffic light as a four-way stop, with the driver on the right having the right-of-way. Proceed with caution only when traffic permits and enter intersections only when it is safe to do so, using your turn signals to let other motorists know your intentions.
  • If traffic lights are on flash, treat a flashing red as a stop (treat it like a stop sign). For flashing yellow, proceed with caution.

High Winds Expected: May Cause Roads to Freeze

In addition to tomorrow’s forecasted snow, the National Weather Service also has issued a wind advisory for the D.C. region through noon on Friday, Jan. 3. This means that wind gusts up to 55 mph are expected.

These high winds could damage trees, down power lines and make driving difficult for trucks and other tall vehicles.

Predicted snow totals as 4 p.m. today

Predicted snow totals as 4 p.m. today

If your power goes out report your outage; never assume a neighbor has reported it.

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

Here’s more information on how to report downed trees or power lines.

Drive carefully tonight and tomorrow morning because the winds and low temperatures may cause roads to freeze.

Severe Storms Predicted Between 3-4 p.m.

Posted 2:06 p.m.

From our afternoon conference call with the National Weather Service:

  • The worst of the storm will hit our area between 3-4 p.m. Not all areas of our large county may be affected.
  • The most severe aspects of the storm (very strong winds) are predicted to last about 30-40 minutes.
  • The winds are the biggest concern, with gusts up to 70 mph.
  • We could receive 1-2 inches of rain, which could lead to some localized flooding.

What you can do:

  • Secure outdoor items if you’re at home.
  • Keep a close eye on watches, warnings and forecasts.
  • View map of roads that historically flood and be aware of flood threats while driving. Keep children away from creeks as water may rise rapidly (we’ve had loss of life before).
  • Keep your phones charged in case you lose power. If you lose power, contact your provider (Dominion or NOVEC).
  • If trees come down, stay away from any downed wires. Here’s who to contact if a tree falls.
  • Only call 911 in an emergency. Call 703-691-2131, TTY 711, for public safety non-emergencies.

Listen to Dave McKernan, our Office of Emergency Management coordinator, discuss the storms in less than one minute:

Stay Informed, Be Vigilant, Prepare

In the aftermath of this week’s explosions at the Boston Marathon and the reported Ricin-tainted mail to elected officials, you may be wondering what you can do to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones. Officials in the National Capital Region encourage residents to take three simple steps:

  1. Stay Informed
  2. Be Vigilant
  3. Prepare

Stay Informed

First, know that there is no information of any specific threats to Fairfax County or the National Capital Region at this time.  Here are numerous ways to ensure timely receipt when there is emergency information disseminated:

Be Vigilant

Always be aware of your surroundings – from your workplace to your neighborhood to a mall to public transportation. Remember, “If you see something, say something.” 

Write down or save the hotline phone number to report suspicious activities. If you cannot easily locate someone in uniform, call one of the following numbers:

  • Washington, D.C.: 202-962-2121
  • Maryland: 1-800-492-TIPS (8477)
  • Virginia: 1-877-4VA-TIPS (482-8477)

For imminent threats, call 9-1-1.

You can also submit information through online forms through Virginia’s Fusion Center.

Prepare

Mobile devices are an important way to stay informed and connected before, during and after an emergency. Here are some tips to prepare yourself and your mobile device; more information is online:

  • Communicate with friends and family via text, email, Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Texting takes less bandwidth than phone calls and is often the best way to get through to each other in an emergency.
  • Make sure your mobile phone has an electric charger, inverter or solar charger.
  • If you lose power, you can charge your cellphone in your car. Just be sure your car is in a well-ventilated place (remove it from the garage) and do not go to your car until any danger has passed. You can also listen to your car radio for important news alerts.
  • If you do not have a cellphone, keep a prepaid phone card to use if needed during or after a disaster.
  • Save important phone numbers to your phone.
  • Prepare a family contact sheet. This should include at least one out-of-town contact that may be better able to reach family members in an emergency.

You should also prepare simple plans such as a Family Communications Plan and emergency contact cards for your children. Fairfax County residents can also create a family emergency plan or a business emergency plan at ReadyNoVa.org

Stay Informed, Be Vigilant, Prepare

This week’s events should remind us all that emergencies can and do occur at any time and in any location. The best thing to do to ensure your safety is to take these simple actions – stay informed, be vigilant and prepare – NOW!

If You See Something, Say Something

Posted 4:37 p.m.

In the aftermath of today’s explosions at the Boston Marathon, we urge you to be vigilant.

One key way to remain vigilant is to always be aware of your surroundings – from your neighborhood to a mall to public transportation to a public venue such as a stadium. Remember, “If you see something, say something.”

Write down or save to your phone Virginia’s hotline phone number to report suspicious activities – 1-877-482-8477. You can also submit information through an online form.

Additional tips to consider:

  • Move or leave if you feel uncomfortable or if something does not seem right.
  • Take precautions when traveling. Be aware of conspicuous or unusual behavior.
  • Do not accept packages from strangers and do no not leave luggage unattended.
  • Learn where emergency exits are located in buildings you frequent. Plan how to get out in the event of an emergency.
  • Be prepared to do without services you normally depend on such as electricity, telephone, natural gas, gasoline pumps, cash registers, ATMs and Internet transactions.
  • Most importantly, stay calm, be patient and think before you act. With these simple preparations, you can be ready for the unexpected.

MORE INFO:

10 Ways to Get Ready for Hurricane Sandy

Posted 12:56 p.m.

Rainfall potential of Hurricane Sandy

National Weather Service rainfall potential of Hurricane Sandy for the next 1-5 days.

Hurricane Sandy continues to be a major threat to our area and could lead to substantial impacts in the next few days. Virginia has already declared a state of emergency in advance of the storm.

To put it simply: we need you to prepare.

The storm’s track is not yet certain, but the National Weather Service models this morning suggest a likely scenario of 4-6 inches of rain, tropical storm winds, downed trees/power lines and flooding for possibly multiple days. More details will become available later today and Saturday from the National Weather Service about timing and impact.

But right now, we have time to get ready.

What you need to know and do:

1.)    Supplies: Get your supplies – water, medicines, canned food, cash, pet food and more. View more suggestions for emergency supply kits. We strongly recommend that you be prepared with at least three days of supplies.

2.)    Gas: Fill your car’s gas tank. Gas stations will be in short supply in a power outage.

3.)    Generators: If you have a generator or plan to buy one, please be familiar with safety tips.

4.)    Food Safety:  Power outages and flooding may happen as a result of a tropical storm or hurricane, so have a plan for keeping food safe. Have a cooler on hand to keep food cold, and group food together in the freezer so it stays cold longer.

5.)    Outdoor Items: Plan to secure all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.

6.)    Trees: Remove dead limbs on trees that could fall on your property (home, car, land).

7.)    Leaves: Clear leaves from storm drains, gutters and other areas that, if clogged, could cause flooding.

8.)    Weather Forecasts: Pay close attention to weather forecasts for the latest storm track. We will provide guidance as needed. Purchase or charge up your weather radio. If you have a weather radio that uses SAME codes, Fairfax County’s SAME code is 051059.

9.)    Tech Ready: View our Digital Preparedness Kit, which is an important way to stay informed and connected before, during and after an emergency.

10.) Phone Numbers: Save important phone numbers to your phone or write them down, especially your power company. Always report a power outage.

Please share this information with your family, friends and co-workers so our whole community can be better prepared.

Forecasts Predict Record Weekend Temperatures – Keep Safe and Cool

Posted 12:30 p.m.

The record-breaking heat wave will continue into the weekend, with temperatures on Saturday in the triple digits and a forecasted heat index of about 115⁰ F.

The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible. The Fairfax County Health Department encourages residents to take these steps to stay safe and comfortable during these hot summer days.

Reduce/Alter Outdoor Activities

  • Children, the elderly and individuals with heart or respiratory ailments, emphysema, asthma or chronic bronchitis should reduce outdoor activities.
  • Healthy individuals should limit strenuous outdoor work or exercise and should limit their outdoor activities.
  • To reduce risk during outdoor work, schedule frequent rest breaksin shaded or air conditioned environments.
  • Reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening.
  • Approximately 300 homes in Fairfax County remain without power. Consider visiting a friend or a public place such as a mall or library to keep cool. Most county RECenters are open so you can beat the heat, shower and recharge your cellphones, medical devices and other electronic devices.

Stay Hydrated

  • Drink plenty of fluids: Drink two to four glasses of cool fluids each hour if you are in a hot environment. 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.
  • More heat safety tips.

Preserve Air Quality

The past week has been filled with Code Orange air quality days when pollution levels are harmful to children and anyone with breathing or heart conditions. More air quality alert days may be on the way.

  • Limit driving and when possible, combine trips, telework, carpool or use mass transit, including Fairfax Connector.
  • Refuel vehicles after dusk and limit idling.
  • Avoid mowing lawns with gasoline-powered motors.
  • Don’t use chemicals on your lawn and gardens.
  • Put off painting until air quality improves.

Learn more about air quality and check daily and three-day forecasts.

Conservation

The high temperatures are likely to stress utility systems this weekend. Help everyone out by conserving power:

Extra Care for Children

Even when the temperatures are at their hottest, kids rarely slow down. Be sure to plan ahead and alter activities to keep children safe and comfortable.

  • Never leave children in a car – not even for a few minutes.
  • Plan activities to keep kids active and occupied indoors.
  • Keep your children hydrated.
  • Dress your child appropriately, in light-weight, light-colored clothing.
  • Apply sunscreen when your child will be outdoors.

Keep Pets Safe

  • Never leave pets in a parked car. On a warm day, temperatures can rapidly rise to dangerous levels. If you see an animal in distress in a parked car, contact police.
  • Shade and water are vital to pets.
  • Limit exercise on hot days. Take care to adjust intensity and duration of exercise. Watch for shortness of breath.
  • Remember that asphalt gets very hot and can burn paws; walk your dog on the grass if possible.
  • Signs that your pet may need further attention.

Be Prepared

The weekend may see additional thunderstorms, so be prepared in case your power goes out again.

Firework Safety

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display.  However, Fairfax County allows the supervised use of permissible fireworks on private property with the consent of the owner of the property and does not require a permit.

Deputy Chief Keith Morrison with the Fire and Rescue Department provides safety tips for the use of permissible fire works.

Protect Yourself During Cleanup

Posted: 4:15 p.m.

People in the areas affected by the recent severe weather will continue to face a number of hazards associated with cleanup activities. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) offers the following safety tips:

 Wear Protective Gear

  • For most cleanup work, wear hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves and watertight boots with steel toe and insole (not just steel shank).
  • Wear earplugs or protective headphones to reduce risk from equipment noise.

Reduce Risk of Heat Exhaustion

While cleaning up after a severe storm during excessive heat, you are at risk for developing health problems. To reduce heat-related risks:

  • Drink a glass of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Work during the cooler hours of the day.

 Prevent Muscle and Bone Injury

Special attention is needed to avoid back injuries associated with manual lifting and handling of debris and building materials. To help prevent muscle and bone injury:

  • Use teams of two or more to move bulky objects.
  • Avoid lifting any material that weighs more than 50 pounds.
  • Use proper automated-assist lifting devices.
  • Use caution or seek professional assistance when removing fallen trees, cleaning up debris or using equipment, such as chain saws. 

Avoid Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is poisonous to breathe. During storm cleanup, operate gasoline-powered generators and outdoors.  Never bring them indoors.

Prevent Fatigue-Related Injuries

Continued long hours of work combined with exhaustion can create a highly stressful situation during cleanup. People working on storm cleanup can reduce their risk of injury and illness in several ways:

  • Set priorities for cleanup tasks and pace the work.
  • Avoid physical exhaustion.
  • Resume a normal sleep schedule as quickly as possible.
  • Be alert to emotional exhaustion or strain.
  • Consult family members, friends or professionals for emotional support.

  Mosquito-borne Disease Prevention

  • Protect against mosquito bites by wearing long, loose and light-colored clothing. 
  • Use insect repellant with the smallest percentage of DEET necessary for the length of time you are exposed to mosquitoes, but no more than 50 percent for adults and 30 percent for children under 12. 
  • Turn over or remove containers in your yard where water collects, such as toys, plant trays and buckets.

Additional cleanup safety tips: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/recover/cleanup.htm

Heat Advisory in Effect – Video Tips for Staying Cool in Extreme Heat

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory again today.  Get forecast details. Below find tips from FEMA on staying cool in extreme heat.

Don’t Get Burned By Thanksgiving Fire Hazards

Thanksgiving Day is the busiest day of the year for fire departments. 

More property damage and lives are lost in residential structure fires on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year. The increase applies mostly to cooking fires in family homes. An estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings are reported to U.S. fire department each year and cause an estimated average of 5 deaths, 25 injuries, and $121 million in property loss. Over the last several years, turkey fryer fires have contributed significantly to the increase in cooking fires. The use of turkey fryers by consumers can lead to devastating burns, other injuries, and destruction of property. The following safe cooking tips can help to make your holiday safer:

  • Always use cooking equipment tested and approved by a recognized testing facility.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying or grilling food. If you leave the kitchen, turn off the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire–potholders, towels, or curtains away from the stovetop.
  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the stove.
  • Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
  • Always keep an oven mitt and lid nearby when cooking.
  • When placing the turkey into the oven or turkey fryer, be extremely careful.

If having a fried turkey is a must for Thanksgiving, consider purchasing a fried, cooked turkey from a commercial source.  Supermarkets and restaurants accept orders for fried turkeys during the holiday season.

Mosquitoes: Eliminate Standing Water

Fight the Bite logoThere is a potential risk of mosquito-borne diseases in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The Fairfax County Health Department urges residents to empty containers containing water from around their home and to use personal protection when mosquito exposure is likely.

Following the storm, there is the likelihood of more standing water around homes. The standing water resulting from the storm may initiate the hatching of large numbers of mosquitoes in coming weeks, increasing the potential for human infection from mosquito-borne diseases, including West Nile virus. People who are working outdoors or do not have screens in their windows will be at increased risk of being bitten. People over 50 years of age are at increased risk for serious complications from West Nile virus.

The Health Department recommends the following tips to reduce exposure to mosquitoes:

  • Wear long, loose and light-colored clothing.
  • Use insect repellents that contain one of the following active ingredients: picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535, or no more than 50 percent DEET for adults and no more than 30 percent for children.  Always follow instructions when using insect repellents.
  • Turn over or remove containers in your yard where water collects, such as old tires, potted plant trays, buckets and toys. 
  • Eliminate standing water on tarps or flat roofs.
  • Clean out birdbaths and wading pools once a week. 
  • Clean roof gutters and downspout screens regularly.
  • Repair screens on doors and windows.
  • Eliminate standing water on your property when possible. For standing water that cannot be eliminated, use a mosquito larvicide to reduce the chances that mosquitoes will breed in the water. Always follow label instructions when using an insecticide.

More information can be found at: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/hd/westnile/wnveliminate.htm

FEMA Resources

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a lot of hurricane information available online:

 http://www.ready.gov/america/beinformed/hurricanes.html

FEMA also has created a list of Twitter accounts posting updates about Irene:

http://twitter.com/fema/irene

Some other helpful tips from FEMA:

  • Irene may cause flooding or flash flooding – avoid flooded areas and roads. Turn around, don’t drown.
  • Safety tips on your phone available at http://m.fema.gov.
  • For severe weather watches/warnings in your area: http://www.weather.gov or on your phone at http://mobile.weather.gov.
  • Receive text message updates from Twitter accounts posting Irene updates. Text follow and your acct name to 40404 (Twitter’s number).

FDA Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is a good resource for information about food and medicine safety. The link below may answer your questions about:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Pets
  • Drugs Exposed to Water
  • Insulin Storage and Switching Between Products in an Emergency
  • Medical Devices
  • Vaccines, Blood, Biologics

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm269766.htm

Food Safety Tips

Fridge thermometerIn the case of an electrical outage, it is important to take careful precautions to ensure food safety. The risk of food poisoning is heightened when refrigerators and ovens are inoperable. Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more, and any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.

Remember, When in doubt, throw it out!”

You can practice safe food handling and prevent food-borne illness by following simple steps:

  • Always keep a thermometer in your refrigerator. The temperature should read 41 F or below. Eggs and other foods need to be stored in 41 F or slightly below. Do not eat foods that may have spoiled.
  • If the power is out for longer than 4 hours, use dry ice. 25 pounds of dry ice will keep a ten cubic foot freezer below freezing for 3-4 days. Handle dry ice with care and wear dry heavy gloves to avoid injury.
  • A full cooler or freezer will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled, so it is important to pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs to insure a constant cold temperature.
  • Fight cross-contamination, which is the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, cutting boards or utensils. Never place any type of food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure that food reaches a safe internal temperature.

 

For more tips visit: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/hd/alert/emerg/emerinfofood02.htm

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