Posted at 8:50 a.m.
Updated at 9:33 a.m.
A Winter Weather Advisory from the National Weather Service remains in effect until 1 p.m. this afternoon (Thursday, Nov. 15). A Winter Weather Advisory means that periods of snow, sleet or freezing rain will cause travel difficulties. Expect slippery roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving.
Fairfax County Police are reporting numerous county roadways are impacted by the weather (9 a.m. update). Public safety officials encourage you to use caution and follow police direction.
The National Weather Service (forecast) reports mixed precipitation is expected, with total sleet and snow accumulation of up to one inch, and ice glaze accumulations of up to a tenth of an inch expected. Plan on slippery road and sidewalk conditions in some areas.
County Government Programs Affected
Fairfax County Government is open, however Fairfax County Public Schools are now closed, following an earlier announcement of a two-hour delay. This school closure affects some county programs/services, so please check before you drive to any location to ensure that it is open and operating.
At this time, Fastran has announced that they will transport dialysis, chemotherapy and radiation trips only. All other scheduled route services are canceled, including senior centers, adult day health care, Women’s Recovery Center, senior residence trips and charter services. For general information about Human Services Transportation, call 703-222-9764, TTY 711.
If additional closures or delays are announced by Fairfax County programs, we will announce them via social media and here on the emergency information blog.
Posted at 3 p.m.
Are you signed up for the Functional Needs Registry? If so, you might have received a call in late October asking you to verify the information you have entered into the Fairfax Alerts system.
Twenty volunteers from the Office of Emergency Management’s Volunteer Corps, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) worked to call over 700 residents who are signed up for the registry. If you did not get a call or still need to verify your information, please call 571-350-1015.
You can sign up for the Functional Needs Registry at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts. If you have any questions or need more information, call the Office of Emergency Management at 571-350-1000, TTY 711.
What is the Functional Needs Registry?
The Functional Needs Registry is a tool for Fairfax County in pre-event emergency planning, resource management and communicating with families and individuals who have identified a disability or access and functional need. The Functional Needs Registry has 12 functional need categories to select, as well as a “care provider” category for those who care for someone with a disability or access and functional need.
The registry is part of the Office of Emergency Management’s efforts to assist residents in preparing and planning for emergencies. For example, prior to or during a crisis emergency, Fairfax County staff uses this notification system to inform of potential dangers or emergencies that could affect those in our community and to provide timely updates to residents.
There is no guarantee that services will be provided, nor does registration guarantee that services will be received on a preferential basis. Residents should continue to follow emergency protocol by calling 9-1-1 in the event of a life-threatening emergency even though they have subscribed to this registry.
Posted at 3 p.m.
Daylight Saving Time ends in the U.S. at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4. Fairfax County reminds you to turn your clocks back one hour before you head to bed on Saturday.
Learn more about Daylight Saving Time from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Change Those Batteries
According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire. Every home needs working smoke alarms to provide an early warning.
- Test your smoke alarms once a month.
- Check that you have smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement. Be sure to have alarms close to and inside where people are sleeping, especially if you are hosting guests for the upcoming holidays.
- Never use an oven or stovetop to heat your home in the winter.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended.
There also are different types of smoke alarms. Read the Fire and Rescue blog for information on the types of alarms and guidance on when to change the batteries.
Check Your Emergency Supplies
The time spent changing your clocks and checking your batteries is also an opportunity to refresh the items in your emergency supply kits (at home, in the office and at the car). Items may have expired or been used and not replaced, so be sure to check those kits and make sure you’re prepared for any emergency.
Posted at 2:30 p.m.
Children dressed in costumes excitedly running door to door to trick-or-treat, festive decorations like glowing jack-o-lanterns, paper ghosts and dried cornstalks adorning front porches – these are some of the classic hallmarks of Halloween that make the holiday special for kids and adults alike.
Unfortunately, these Halloween symbols and activities can also present lurking fire risks that have the potential to become truly scary. But by planning ahead, you can help make this Halloween a fire-safe one. Taking simple fire safety precautions like keeping decorations far away from open flames and using battery-operated candles or glow-sticks in jack-o-lanterns can help ensure your holiday remains festive and fun!
Traditional jack-o-lanterns with candles are a tremendous fire hazard. A better way to light up your jack-o-lantern is to use a small string of holiday lights with yellow and red flashing bulbs. Additionally, small battery powered candles can be used.
Whether you’re lighting a jack-o-lantern or making costumes, use these tips from the National Fire Protection Association and the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department to make your Halloween safe and fun.
- Use flashlights or battery-operated candles for Halloween decorations.
- Keep Halloween decorations away from open flames, light bulbs and heaters. Decorations like cornstalks and crepe paper can catch on fire easily.
- Look for “Flame Resistant” or “Flame Retardant” labels on costumes because candles and flammable costumes can be a dangerous combination. If you make costumes at home, choose flame-resistant fabrics like nylon and polyester.
- Tell kids to stay away from candles and jack-o’-lanterns that may be on steps and porches. Their costumes could catch fire if they get too close.
- Never let a group of children trick-or-treat alone. Adult supervision is a safety “must” during Halloween.
- Use sidewalks when trick or treating. Cross only at street corners and crosswalks.
- Make sure your children can see and be seen. Expand the eye holes in commercial masks to improve peripheral vision. Add reflective tape to costumes to make them more visible to motorists.
- Tell the children to remove their masks and look both ways before they cross a street.
Meanwhile, the Fairfax County Police Department encourages drivers to pay attention and remember that excited trick-or-treaters are probably not paying attention to you and your car.
- Stay alert, as children tend to be preoccupied with Halloween festivities.
- Leave driveways and parking spaces slowly, and double-check that no one is in the way.
- Drive slowly, particularly through residential areas.
- Do not pass vehicles stopped in the roadway, as they may be stopped for pedestrians.
- Don’t let yourself get distracted by your phone – avoid distractions and stay alert!
And of course we shouldn’t forget our pets. Be sure to keep chocolate up and away from your pet(s) as it can be poisonous to them. Additionally, not all trick-or-treaters like dogs – so make sure to keep your pet on a leash or behind a gate away from the front door! And ensure that your pet has identification on in the event that they accidentally get loose.
Let’s keep all our gremlins, ghosts and goblins safe to enjoy another Halloween celebration next year.
Posted at 12:30 p.m.
Personal financial planning helps families prepare for emergencies. Take time to increase your level of disaster preparedness and especially your financial preparedness.
Saving can be a tall order for some, but in an emergency, a lack of financial preparedness could leave you and your family with fewer options for immediate relief.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Set aside money in an emergency savings fund for initial out-of-pocket costs including gas, food and hotel accommodations to provide safety, comfort and distance during a disaster.
- Keep cash on hand in the event of power outage when electronic payments are not available. It is important to have small bills on hand because ATM’s and credit cards may not work during a disaster when you need to purchase necessary supplies, fuel or food.
- Complete an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit and digitizing important documents (e.g. medical records, ID, insurance, etc.) in case they are needed following a disaster.
- Consider the cost of insurance deductibles. Obtain property (homeowners or renters), health, and life insurance if you do not have them. Review existing policies for the amount and extent of coverage to ensure that what you have in place is what is required for you and your family for all possible hazards.
Be ready for the unexpected. Create or add to your emergency savings and encourage others (family, friends, neighbors and colleagues) to save for a disaster too.
Being financially prepared should be incorporated in your personal preparedness plan.