County Cooling Centers Offer Respite from the Heat

Posted at 10 a.m.

Extreme Heat Safety

Photo courtesy of CDC.

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.

Staying Cool

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.

National Safety Month: A Time to Focus on Unintentional Injuries

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.

Fairfax Alerts Will Offer Customized Weather Alerts and More

Posted at 10 a.m.

Fairfax AlertsFairfax AlertsFairfax County’s new alerting system launching on June 19 — will include several new features to enhance messages, such as:

  • 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.

In this video, Paul Lupe with our emergency management office, explains some of the features of the new system.

The system goes live Thursday, June 19. Learn more at

June is National Safety Month; Pay Extra Attention to Slips, Trips and Falls

Posted at 1:45 p.m.

National Safety MonthJune 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.


Pre-register for Fairfax Alerts During Celebrate Fairfax

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.

In the video below, Whitney Kazragis, outreach liaison with our emergency management office, explains.

Get more information on Fairfax Alerts at — 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.


Rip Current Awareness Week; Break the Grip of the Rip

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.

Rip Current Awareness Week 2014

Learn more online about rip currents.


Coming Soon: A New Alerting System for Fairfax County

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.

In this video, Sulayman Brown with our emergency management office, says that coming soon, the CEAN will be replaced by a new alert system called Fairfax Alerts.

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 — 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.


Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week and Sales Tax Holiday Begin Today, May 25

Posted at 3 p.m.

Our community is at risk for the damaging effects of coastal and inland tropical storm systems and widespread flooding. To emphasize the importance of preparing for hurricane season — which starts June 1 — Gov. Terry McAuliffe has recognized May 25-31 as Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week across Virginia.

“As we saw in years past storms like Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, these storms can result in tragic deaths and tremendous damage to homes and businesses,” said McAuliffe.

Our emergency management officials encourage you to have an emergency kit of supplies, starting with three days’ of bottled water and non-perishable food; a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio with extra batteries to hear emergency information. Other items to include are flashlights and extra batteries, a first-aid kit and an extra supply of prescription medicines.


Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

Also beginning today, May 25, through Saturday, May 31, the state is offering a Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. Shop during the sales tax holiday and you won’t pay sales tax on many supplies for protecting your home and business. Many useful items qualify (PDF).  Shop for items that have a price of $60 or less, such as:

  • Artificial ice, blue ice, ice packs, reusable ice.
  • Batteries, excluding car or boat batteries.
  • Portable self-powered light sources, including flashlights and lanterns and glow sticks.
  • First-aid kits.
  • Cellphone chargers.
  • Weather Band radios and NOAA Weather Radios.

You can also shop for items that have a sales price of $1,000 or less, such as portable generators and generator power cords; inverters and inverter power cables.

Retail outlets will have information about the tax holiday. You also can visit, and for more details.


Video: Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday is May 25-31

Posted at 3:55 p.m.

It’s smart to get ready for hurricane and flash flooding season, which arrives June 1. And it’s smart to save money.

You can do both by shopping for such products as batteries, food storage containers, generators, first-aid kits, bottled water, radios and more between May 25-31 during Virginia’s Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. When you do, you won’t pay sales tax on many useful products that cost up to $60 or on generators costing $1,000 or less. That’s a savings of 5 percent.

And gas-powered chainsaws that cost $350 or less and chainsaw accessories that cost $60 or less also are tax free — a new addition to this year’s sales tax holiday.

A complete list of exempt items available for purchase is online at

Potential Measles Exposures May 11-15

Posted at 11:30 a.m.

The Virginia Department of Health reports that “out of an abundance of caution, health officials are investigating potential exposures to a second person with measles in the National Capital Region.”

New potential exposure sites and times have been identified that occurred between May 11-15. The locations in Fairfax County include McLean, Herndon, Fairfax, Reston and more. Visit the VDH website for more details.

This new investigation expands the recent one of a measles case in late April in Loudoun and Fairfax Counties. The second case of measles was confirmed in a person who was a close contact of the first case. Regional health officials are mounting a coordinated effort to identify people who may have been exposed to this second case.

After you check the list, please share this information with your family, friends, co-workers and more.

Going Boating? Please Wear a Life Jacket!

Posted at 1:45 p.m.

You may head out on a boat to the Potomac River or other bodies of water in the coming weeks. We want you and your family to be safe.

Boating safety advocates are teaming up to promote safe and responsible boating, including consistent life jacket wear during National Safe Boating Week, May 17-23.

According to U.S. Coast Guard statistics, drowning was the cause of death in nearly 75 percent of recreational boating fatalities in 2012, and that 85 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.


Life Jacket Safety Tips

No matter what activity you have planned – boating, fishing, paddling or other water activities – always remember to wear a life jacket every time you are on the water. Accidents on the water can happen much too fast to reach and put on a stowed life jacket.

  • Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved.
  • Double check that your life jacket is appropriate for your favorite water activities.
  • Take the time to ensure a proper fit. A life jacket can be too large or too small.
  • Life jackets meant for adults do not work for children. If you are boating with children, make sure they are wearing properly fitted, child-sized life jackets. Do not buy a life jacket for your child to “grow into.”

Get more information from the safe boating campaign.

View List of Road Closures Today

Posted 8:12 a.m.

More than 30 roads (as of 7 a.m.) are closed due to flooding this morning.

As always, never drive through flooded roads. Turn around, don’t drown. Numerous swift water rescues have been conducted today.


Here are a few examples of flooded roads that have been tweeted today:


Heavy Rains Lead to Flash Flood Warning

Posted 7:37 a.m. // Updated 7:55 a.m.

Photo of car that did NOT turn around on a flooded road two weeks ago in the Chantilly area.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning until 10:15 a.m. because of all the rain we’ve received since last night. Excessive runoff from the heavy rain will cause flash flooding of small creeks, streams, urban areas, highways, streets, underpasses and other drainage areas and low lying spots.

UPDATE: List of road closures

Key safety tips to keep in mind:

  • If you’re driving, please do not drive through flooded roads. Turn around don’t drown. There have been some swift water rescues today.
  • Today is Bike to Work Day. If you’re still planning to bike to work, please be safe in areas with high water.
  • Please keep children away from creeks and streams as the water may rise quickly.



Severe Thunderstorm Watch in Effect Until 8 p.m.; Flash Flood Watch Beginning at 6 p.m.

Posted at 12:45 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch in effect until 8 p.m. this evening, Thursday, May 15.

In addition, a flash flood watch is in effect from 6 p.m. tonight through Friday afternoon for Fairfax County and the National Capital Region. A flash flood watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding.


Showers and scattered thunderstorms are expected with periods of heavy rain developing late this afternoon and continuing through midday Friday. The heaviest rain will be late tonight into Friday morning. Rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches are expected with locally higher amounts possible. This amount of rainfall has the potential to produce flash flooding, especially in urban areas and along small rivers and streams.

Huntington and Belle View/New Alexandria Residents

Based on the latest NWS forecast, county officials estimate that if we receive localized rainfall of 1-1/2 inches of rain within a one hour period, residents will likely experience minor street flooding in the Huntington area. As a precaution, residents in the Huntington area are encouraged to move vehicles to higher elevations.

County officials also believe that residents experience localized street flooding near the intersection of Olde Towne Road an Wood Haven Road and the vicinity of 6700 West Wakefield Drive in the Belle View/New Alexandria areas.  However, no structural flooding in the Huntington or Belle View/New Alexandria areas is anticipated based on the latest forecast.  Staff from the county’s Public Works and Environmental Services, public safety and emergency management offices will continue to monitor the storm and provide updates if the forecast or anticipated conditions worsen.

Current Forecast

  • This Afternoon: A chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 81. Southeast wind 14 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
  • Tonight: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce gusty winds and heavy rain. Low around 62. Southeast wind 13 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between 2 and 3 inches possible.
  • Friday: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. High near 71. South wind 9 to 13 mph becoming north in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between three quarters and one inch possible.
  • Friday Night: A chance of showers between 8pm and 2am. Cloudy, then gradually becoming partly cloudy, with a low around 48. Calm wind becoming northwest around 6 mph after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
  • Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 72. West wind 7 to 13 mph.

Severe thunderstorms and flash flood watch for Fairfax County

Continue to monitor weather forecasts and be prepared to take action should flash flood warnings be issued. You should also sign up to receive weather alerts on your mobile device, as well as by email, from the Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN). Sign up at


Today is National Animal Disaster Preparendess Day

Posted at 9:45 a.m.

Today is National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day. Kristen Auerbach with our Animal Shelter says pets are part of our families and we need to make sure our pets are prepared for emergencies. In this video, she offers some great tips to make sure our pets are ready in case of an emergency.


Prepare your pets for emergencies. In an emergency, you may need to stay in your home, or perhaps you’ll have to leave. If you evacuate, do not leave your pets behind. Pets most likely cannot survive on their own. Plan now where your pet will stay if you have to evacuate: a friends’ or relative’s home, a pet-friendly hotel or motel, or a kennel or veterinarian’s office.  Talk to your vet or local humane society about an emergency plan for your pet.

Ask Fairfax Online Chat at 11 a.m.

Staff from the Fairfax County Animal Shelter and our Office of Emergency Management will be available online at 11 a.m. to answer all of your questions to help you protect your pets when the unexpected happens. Submit a question now or join in the “Ask Fairfax” online chat about pet preparedness.

Pet Preparedness

There are five easy steps pet owners can take to drastically increase their pet’s resiliency to disasters:

  • Build a pet emergency kit.
  • ID your pet with a collar and tag or consider microchipping.
  • Practice evacuating in the car or determine where to shelter-in-place with your pet.
  • Create a buddy system with a relative or friend to help each other’s pets in case one of you is away from home during an emergency.
  • Download a preparedness app.

As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to protect your pet during a disaster.



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