It’s time to get prepared!
Twice a year — on April 30 and Sept. 30 — America’s PrepareAthon holds national PrepareAthon Days.
The goal is to build our nation’s resilience by increasing the number of individuals who understand what disasters could happen in their community, know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage, take action to increase preparedness and participate in community resilience planning.
Why is the Prepare-Athon Important and Why Participate?
Between 1900 and 2014, the U.S. experienced 38 earthquakes, 166 floods, 568 storms and 936 tornados. In 2014 alone, there were more than 300 fatalities and more than 2,100 injuries due to weather-related disasters.
Based on a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) national survey, 54 percent of the U.S. population do not believe their community will experience a natural disaster – and less than half of those respondents have a plan they have discussed with their family members.
Research shows that people are more prepared for a disaster if they are aware of community alerts and systems, talk about their preparedness plan with family and others, attend trainings and participate in a drill or exercise. What better way to get started than to participate in this month’s PrepareAthon?
Participation in America’s PrepareAthon is Simple
Everyone can participate including workplaces, schools, houses of worship, community-based organizations, institutions of higher education, as well as individuals and families. Also, participation in America’s PreparAthon can take place anytime throughout the year — just in case you can’t this Saturday.
Visit ready.gov/prepare to learn which hazards can affect your community, review the list of 10 actions and choose a preparedness activity that best fits your hazard. Next, register yourself to be counted.
Once registered, you can download a certificate of participation. Then – congratulations! You, your organization or group has now taken an important step toward preparing for disasters.
Posted at 3:30 p.m.
The second full week of April — April 10-16 this year — is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. It is a time to recognize and honor the thousands of men and women across the country who respond to emergency calls, dispatch emergency professionals and equipment, and render life-saving assistance.
We want to take a moment to recognize the hard-working staff of our 9-1-1 Center, Fairfax County’s Department of Public Safety Communications, which was named one of the top 10 9-1-1 Centers of 2015 by the editorial staff at 911DispatcherEDU.org, for going “above and beyond to provide outstanding service.”
That service is provided by the dedicated employees that work at our 9-1-1 Center, who take emergency calls calmly and professionally 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week.
These employees are truly the first of the first responders and proudly serve the residents of Fairfax County. They receive approximately 1 million calls per year requesting public safety service and they dispatch units of the Fairfax County Police Department, Fire and Rescue Department and Sheriff’s Office. In addition to Fairfax County, the 9-1-1 Center also is the designated 9-1-1 public safety answering point (PSAP) for the towns of Herndon and Vienna and the City of Fairfax.
The Fairfax County 9-1-1 Center is the largest public safety answering point (PSAP) in Virginia, one of the 10 largest in the United States and is nationally recognized as a “best in class” agency for its public safety telecommunications services, training, technology and policies and procedures.
Fairfax County 9-1-1 … always there … always ready … 24/7/365.
Learn more about 9-1-1 here in Fairfax County online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/911/.
Posted at 8:45 a.m.
This year’s statewide tornado drill begins at 9:45 a.m. Hopefully you are ready to take part.
The tornado drill is an important safety exercise to prepare for nature’s most violent storms. Our state has been hit hard in the past by multiple tornadoes, including several just last month, which have cost lives and left extensive damage.
The drill will start with a message from the National Weather Service. Our Fairfax Alerts will also send a message. If you’re not yet registered for Fairfax Alerts, do so here: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts.
What to Do During the Drill?
What should you do for the drill? Exactly what you would do if a tornado warning was issued for your area:
- When a warning is issued, immediately take cover.
- Move to a designated shelter such as a basement or windowless room.
- Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect head and neck — crouch as low as possible to the floor, face down and cover your head with your hands.
- If outdoors with no shelter, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Do not get under an overpass or bridge.
- Get out of vehicles and go to the closest shelter.
- Do not try to outrun a tornado in an urban or congested area.
Practicing these steps at least once a year will help you be better prepared when a tornado occurs near you. Because as you know, there isn’t a season for tornadoes — they can happen anywhere at any time!
And thanks in advance for taking part in today’s tornado drill.
Posted at 11 a.m.
The Feb. 24 severe storm system that spawned eight tornadoes, caused five deaths and inflicted damage to more than 400 structures is a stark reminder that tornadoes do occur in Virginia.
Since tornadoes can happen anywhere at any time, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service hold a yearly tornado drill, which is fast approaching — Tuesday, March 22, at 9:45 a.m. The drill is aimed to make everyone familiar with what to do in case a tornado were to strike your neighborhood or office building.
In this video, Sandi Fox of our emergency management office explains why you should be a part of this year’s drill.
Learn more about the drill and register to participate at www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/stayinformed/tornadoes, however, registration is not necessary to participate.
Metro will close the rail system all day Wednesday, March 16. What are some options to get around? Check out our Fairfax County Government NewsCenter for full details.
Daylight Saving Time Starts This Weekend — A Good Time to Check Smoke Alarms and Emergency Supply Kits
Posted at 4:30 p.m.
This weekend — specifically at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 13 — Daylight Saving Time begins. That means getting up to change the time on our clocks and watches, or if you’re like most folks, just change the time before you go to bed tonight.
Daylight Saving Time is often confusing. Just remember the old saying, “Spring forward, Fall back,” which means we lose an hour of sleep tonight as we move our clocks forward (spring) one hour.
It shouldn’t take too long to change the time — unless you’re a horologist with a huge collection of clocks — so we’d like to ask you to take a couple of preparedness steps along with changing your clocks.
For years, fire officials have encouraged us to change the batteries in our smoke alarms every six months, and what better reminder than Daylight Saving Time. And since it only takes a couple of minutes to change your batteries, go ahead and take a few more minutes and check your emergency supplies.
So before you go to bed tonight, here’s a checklist to make sure you’re prepared for any possible emergency — as well as not oversleeping:
- Change the batteries in your smoke alarms.
- Check your emergency supply kits (both in the home and vehicles) to make sure they’re fully stocked. If not, make a quick list of what you’ll need to do to get them ready — and then buy those supplies tomorrow or next week.
- Turn your clocks forward one hour before you go to bed.
For more information on smoke alarms, visit our fire and rescue department online. And for more on emergency supply kits and being prepared for all hazards, visit our emergency information page or our emergency management office.
Posted at 1:30 p.m.
Just last month (Feb. 24), four people were killed in Virginia during the state’s first deadly February twisters on record.
Did you know that registration for Virginia’s statewide tornado drill — Tuesday, March 22, at 9:45 a.m. — is now open. Have you registered yet?
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.
- There were 67 tornadoes in Virginia from 2011 to 2013.
- 12 tornadoes occurred in Virginia in 2014.
- Seven tornadoes were recorded in Virginia in 2015.
When 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. That’s the reason the March 22 tornado drill is so important.
Sign up today as an individual, or register your family’s participation, your school or your business.
Posted at 10:30 a.m.
A winter weather advisory for snow is in effect from 10 p.m. this evening to 10 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, March 4. The National Weather Service is predicting accumulations between one to four inches across the National Capital Region.
Precipitation will move in initially as a rain and snow mix early this evening before transitioning to all snow late tonight. Snow is expected overnight impacting the morning commute. Snow is expected to taper off by midday Friday.
This snow will cause slippery roads resulting in hazardous travel conditions.
A winter weather advisory for snow means that periods of snow will cause travel difficulties including slippery roads resulting in hazardous travel conditions. Be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving.
Get the complete weather forecast.
Fairfax County Government Open With Unscheduled Leave for Employees for Tuesday, Feb. 16; Schools Closed
Posted 5:52 a.m.; updated 6:12 a.m.
Government, Schools and Courts
- Fairfax County Government offices will be open on Tuesday, Feb. 16, however employees have been granted unscheduled leave. Emergency service personnel should report as scheduled.
- Fairfax County Public Schools will be closed on Tuesday, Feb. 16. School Age Child Care (SACC) centers will be closed.
- The Fairfax County Circuit Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court are open on time. General District Court will open at 9:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m. dockets will be handled at 9:30 a.m.)
Parks, Community and Recreation and Community Centers
- If you have questions about Park Authority facilities, contact the site directly, call the Parks inclement weather line at 703-324-8661, TTY 711, or visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks.
- For Department of Neighborhood and Community Services programs and events visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/ncs or call 703-324-4600, TTY 711.
- The Reston Community Center and the McLean Community Center may be affected by the inclement weather. Call RCC at 703-476-4500, TTY 711, www.restoncommunitycenter.com or MCC at 703-790-0123, TTY 711, www.mcleancenter.org for their current operating status.
Transportation: Connector, Fastran
- Fairfax Connector bus service may be affected by the inclement weather. Check the Connector Web page at www.fairfaxconnector.com for the current operating status.
- For information about FASTRAN, call 703-222-9764, press 8; TTY 711, or online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/ncs/fastran.htm.
Public Assistance Lobbies/SkillSource
The Department of Family Services employment/SkillSource centers and public assistance lobbies may be affected by inclement weather. Call 703-324-7500, TTY 711, for the current operating status.
- Library hours may be affected; call your local branch before visiting. For branch phone numbers, call 703-324-3100 or go to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library.
View the public meetings calendar at for any potential cancellations of public meetings of Fairfax County government Boards, Authorities or Commissions.
Posted at 2:45 p.m.
h…love is in the air. Valentine’s Day is almost here — Sunday guys in case you’ve forgotten the flowers and chocolates!
Not only is this weekend the time for love though, but brutally cold temperatures along with another chance of snow are in the forecast making this weekend one full of a variety of winter weather conditions.
First, let’s start with today. Snow chances actually start tonight. The National Weather Service (NWS) says there’s a chance of a small amount of snow accumulation tonight, anywhere from 1-2 inches possible between 6-11 p.m.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is encouraging motorists to finish trips by early afternoon and to use extreme caution during the evening rush hour. With below-freezing temperatures in place and snow showers expected, VDOT reports that they will have 1,150 trucks deployed across the region to continually treat roads.
A hazardous weather outlook has been issued as well as a winter weather advisory from 6 p.m. to midnight. In addition, a wind advisory is in effect tomorrow from 3 a.m. to 6 p.m. A wind advisory means that wind gusts of 45 to 55 mph are expected. You’ll want to secure any outdoor furniture and take care driving high profile vehicles such as vans and SUVs.
Saturday and Sunday
NWS reports that wind chill values below minus five degrees are likely Saturday night into Sunday morning. There also is an enhanced threat of a winter storm late Sunday night through Monday night.
Snow is likely overnight Sunday night (60 percent chance) with a low around 18 and into Monday (70 percent chance) with a high only near 32. Snow is expected until about 8 p.m. before turning to rain and snow.
Monday is the President’s Day Holiday for many — including Fairfax County Government — so hopefully that will decrease the number of cars that have to be on the roadways. Just remember … if you don’t have to be out in the inclement weather, don’t. Allow road crews the opportunity to do their jobs.
Keep an Eye on Others
This weekend, be sure to check on your elderly neighbors and help those who may need special assistance, including people with disabilities and children. And if you see someone at night who is unsheltered and you think could be at risk of hypothermia, call the county’s non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.
Pets, even those who typically live outdoors, should be brought inside; only take your pet outside for short bathroom breaks and do not leave your pet outdoors unattended. Also, make sure to provide access to non-frozen drinking water at all times.