Archive by Author | Fairfax County Emergency Information

If You See Something … Say Something

Posted at 3:15 p.m.

This weekend’s terrorist attacks in Paris, France are a stark reminder of the times we live in. But while terror attacks are horrifying, remember this guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“It’s not about paranoia or being afraid. It’s about standing up and protecting our communities…one detail at a time because a lot of little details can become a pattern.”

“See Something, Say Something” is more than a catch phrase. If you see something you know shouldn’t be there — or someone’s behavior that doesn’t seem quite right — say something. Because only you know what’s supposed to be a regular part of your everyday.

Learn more about what you can do in this NewsCenter article, as well as Homeland Security’s see something, say something Web page.

Remember to “Fall Back” for Daylight Saving Time

Posted at 3:00 p.m.

This weekend — like most in Fairfax County — will be a busy one. Perhaps you’ll be raking the leaves and working in the yard, or cleaning the house getting ready to host a Halloween party, or maybe you’ll be busy shopping and stocking up on candy for the treat-or-treaters who’ll be paying you a visit Saturday night.

Change the batteries in your smoke alarm every six monthsWhatever your weekend plans, remember that this weekend — officially at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 1 — is the end of Daylight Saving Time. It’s the time when we turn our clocks back an hour. Remember “spring forward, fall back.”?

So with this extra hour of free time, you might be tempted to just sleep that time away. But we’ve got a better idea.

With your new-found hour, take three simple steps to become better prepared for any hazard:

  1. Change the batteries in the smoke alarms in your home. According to our fire department, approximately 80 percent of all fire deaths in the U.S. occur in the home. Also, fatal residential fires most often occur at night when residents are sleeping. In most cases, the best way to survive a residential fire is early fire detection and rapid escape to a safe
    area. Learn more about smoke alarms (PDF).
  2. Check the supplies in your emergency kit. Make sure you restock any missing items and freshen up any existing stock.
  3. Sign up for Fairfax Alerts. You can receive emergency alerts and alerts about severe weather and traffic right on your cellphone and by email.

Every Saturday until Nov. 21, our firefighters are in neighborhoods checking and installing smoke alarms, providing seasonal fire and life safety tips, and offering escape plans for families.

This popular home safety check program began in 2013 and it has been credited with saving lives. In the three years of the program our firefighters have replaced hundreds of smoke alarm batteries and have installed thousands of smoke alarms. Read more about the program.

Today’s the Day to Drop, Cover and Hold On

Posted at 8:15 a.m.

In a couple of hours, don’t be surprised if you see folks around you start dropping to the floor, crawling under sturdy desks or tables and covering their heads. It’s all part of the annual Great Southeast ShakeOut earthquake drill that starts at 10:15 a.m.

Practicing these simple steps — drop, cover and hold on — is just one of the ways you can prepare for tremors.

Drop, Cover and Hold On for earthquake safety

  • DROP to the ground (before the shaking drops you).
  • Take COVER under a sturdy desk or table if possible, protecting your head and neck.
  • HOLD ON to the desk or table until the shaking stops.

Not to Late to Participate

Over 2 million people have registered to participate in this morning’s drill — including over 1.1 million in Virginia alone! But if you haven’t signed up, it’s not too late to do so. Just go to to register. And don’t worry if you’ve already got plans for this morning. You can conduct your own earthquake drill any time over the next two weeks to have your participation counted. So register now and drop, cover and hold on at 10:15 a.m.

Earthquakes in Virginia

Virginia experiences earthquakes each year, but only a few are felt. Since 1977, more than 195 quakes have been detected as originating beneath Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. Of these, at least 29 were large enough to be felt at the earth’s surface. This averages out to about six earthquakes per year, of which one is felt.

The Aug. 23, 2011 earthquake centered near Mineral, Va., was felt by one-third of the U.S. population from Georgia to Maine and it caused over $200 million in damage. Earthquakes like that one can cause sudden and intense back and forth motions of several feet per second. They can cause the floor or the ground to jerk sideways out from under you, while every unsecured object around you could topple, fall, or become airborne, potentially causing serious injury.

Now is a good time to check your home for unsecured objects that could move, break or fall as an earthquake shakes your home. Pay attention to tall, heavy or expensive objects like bookcases, home electronics, appliances and items hanging from walls, especially over beds, tables, desks or chairs. FEMA and our emergency management office recommends that you secure those items with flexible fasteners, such as nylon straps, or relocate them.

Measles Case Confirmed; Risk of Exposures in Fairfax County

Posted at 12:20 p.m.

The Fairfax County Health Department is investigating a laboratory-confirmed case of measles. The individual is a child who was treated at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus but is no longer contagious.

While the child was age-appropriately vaccinated with one dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, it takes two doses of MMR vaccine to provide full protection against measles. At this time there are no other documented cases of measles in the area.

The individual was at several locations in Fairfax County in the past week and could have exposed others to the measles virus. The Health Department is attempting to notify anyone who may have been exposed while the patient was infectious to prevent further spread of measles.

Persons who were at the locations below during the times listed may have been exposed to the measles virus and should call the Health Department at 703-267-3511, (TTY 711) to determine their risk for measles. Preventative treatment may be recommended for those who were exposed and are unvaccinated and who may be at high risk, such as pregnant women, infants younger than 12 months and people with severely compromised immune systems.

Measles Exposure Public Sites

Location Date and Time
JoAnn Blanks Child Development Center (CDC)5901 Taylor Road, Bldg. 1207
Fort Belvoir, VA 22060
Wednesday, Sept. 30
7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Pediatric Associates of Alexandria Springfield HealthPlex
6355 Walker Ln #401
Alexandria, VA 22310
Thursday, Oct. 1
1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Springfield HealthPlex
6355 Walker Ln #401
Alexandria, VA 22310
Thursday, Oct. 1
1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Costco Wholesale Club
7940 Richmond Highway
Alexandria, VA 22306
Thursday, Oct. 1
2:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
Pediatric Emergency Department
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
Sunday, Oct. 4
10:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
Emergency Department
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
Sunday, Oct. 4
1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus Women’s and Children’s Atrium (Lobby) & 5th floor
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
Sunday, Oct. 4
5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus Original Building, 1st-5th floor
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
Sunday, Oct. 4,  5 p.m. to Midnight
Monday, Oct. 5,
All hours


Measles is a highly contagious, serious respiratory disease. Symptoms can include fever greater than 101 degrees, runny nose, watery red eyes and cough, followed by a blotchy rash that appears on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. Measles is particularly dangerous for infants who cannot be immunized until they are at least six months old.

Persons who were present at any of the locations listed above during the exposure times should call their health care provider if they experience any symptoms of measles. Contact your doctor’s office or the emergency room and tell them that you may have been exposed to measles.

The last date when a person would develop symptoms from this exposure is Oct. 26.

The Health Department is experienced in conducting measles outbreak investigations and is implementing its response plan to prevent further spread of the disease. The last confirmed case of measles involving Fairfax County was in May 2015. There were no secondary cases.

More Information

A call center has been established to address concerns and answer questions about measles. Anyone concerned about exposure to measles is encouraged to call the Fairfax County Health Department at 703-267-3511The call center hours are:

  • Oct. 8, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 9, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 10, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 11, Noon to 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 12, Noon to 6 p.m.

Visit the Fairfax County Health Department at or the Virginia Department of Health at

More about Measles


  • Typically appear 7-12 days after exposure to measles but may take up to 21 days
  • Begin with fever (101 F or higher), red, watery eyes, cough and runny nose
  • Followed by a rash that is red, raised and blotchy. The rash begins on the face at the hairline and moves down the body.

How it is spread:

  • Measles is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing and is highly contagious. The virus can live on surfaces or in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed for up to two hours.
  • People with measles may be contagious up to four days before the rash appears and for four days after the day the rash appears.

Preventing measles:

  • People are protected against measles if they have been adequately vaccinated or if they have had measles in the past.
  • Two doses of MMR vaccine provide full protection against measles. Children routinely get their first dose of the vaccine at 12 to 15 months of age and the second dose at four to six years of age.
  • Use this opportunity to review your vaccination status and talk to your healthcare provider or local pharmacy about the availability of MMR vaccine. The Health Department also has MMR vaccine available for both children and adults.


  • There is no specific treatment for measles. People with measles need bed rest, fluids and control of fever. Patients with complications may need treatment specific to their condition.

What to do if you were at one of the above locations at the time specified:

  • If you have received at least one dose of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in the past, your risk of being infected with measles from any of these exposures is very low. Certain groups of adults may be at increased risk for exposure to measles and should receive two doses of MMR, including college students, healthcare workers and international travelers.
  • If you or a family member has not received the MMR vaccination and you were present at one of the locations listed above during the exposure time, please call the Health Department at 703-267-3511 to be assessed for your risk of exposure.

What to do if you think you have measles:

  • Contact your health care provider by phone and let them know that you may have been exposed to measles.

The Great Southeast ShakeOut Earthquake Drill is Oct. 15

Posted at 11 a.m.

Great Southeast ShakeOut 2015 Earthquake Drill

For the fourth year, Virginia will participate in the Great Southeast ShakeOut, a multi-state simultaneous earthquake drill scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 15, at 10:15 a.m.

As of this morning, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management reports that more than 797,000 Virginians have signed up for the earthquake drill. Have you?

Learn more about what to do if there is an earthquake and then practice these easy-to-remember steps during the ShakeOut:

  • Drop
  • Cover
  • Hold on!

There are many ways for you, businesses, schools, faith-based organizations, community groups and others to participate in the Southeast ShakeOut and to get prepared for earthquakes. Visit to learn more and register to participate. And if Oct. 15 isn’t a convenient time for your organization to hold an earthquake drill, you can still participate in the ShakeOut — you can hold a drill any time between then and Dec. 31 and still be counted as long as you register your participation.

Prepare for Possible Power Outages

(Posted 4:09 p.m.)

You can lose power at any time for a variety of reasons.

Add in heavy rains + saturated ground + high wind gusts + potentially wobbly trees, and that’s a recipe for possible power outages.

Plan Ahead

  • Keep your digital devices charged!
  • Back up critical files on your computer.
  • Unplug electrical equipment. Spikes and surges could occur as power is restored, damaging equipment.
  • Make sure that your emergency supply kit can be found easily if the lights go out.
  • If you use well water, pre-plan by filling a bathtub with water for use with sanitation, etc.

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
  • Use a flashlight or battery-powered lantern for emergency lighting. Never use candles.
  • Unplug electrical equipment until a steady power supply returns.
  • If you have a police, fire or medical emergency, call or text 9-1-1. For non-emergency needs, call 703-691-2131.

Food Safety

Food safety is a big concern if you lose power for a long time. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. First use perishable food from the refrigerator. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours.  More tips:



Who to Contact If You Experience Flooding

(Posted 12:13 p.m.)

All of this heavy rain until Saturday may lead to some flooding in your home, business or other location.

We’ve provided 8 ways to prepare for potential floods, but in case you have to respond to a flood, here’s who to contact:

  • Rising water that threatens your safety, call 9-1-1.
  • Storm flooding during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.), call 703-877-2800, TTY 711.
  • For after-hours storm flooding emergencies that are not life threatening, call 703-323-1211, TTY 703-239-8498, and state that you are reporting a storm sewer emergency; this number is staffed 24 hours a day.
  • For sanitary sewer flooding, call 703-323-1211, TTY 703-239-8498.
  • If you have damp walls or floors, contact a water removal or restoration company.

If a Tree Falls: What to Do and Who to Call

(Posted 10:10 a.m.)

Downed trees may become an issue in the next few days with the combination of soaking rainfall and gusty winds in the forecast. We want you to be safe and know what to do if a tree falls:

If a Tree Falls Into Your Home

  1. Get everyone safely out of your house. Use your cellphone or go to a neighbor’s house and call 9-1-1.
  2. Stay away from the home until public safety employees can access your home for structural safety (as well as ensuring your utilities are OK or should be turned off.)
  3. Only after all of these safety measures should you then call your insurance company.

If a Tree Falls on a Road or Other Land

It does matter where a tree falls:

  • 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.

If a Fallen Tree Puts Downed Power Lines on Your Car

Always avoid downed power lines. However, if you are driving and a fallen tree causes downed power lines to come in contact with your car, you should take these safety steps:

  • Call 9-1-1 and stay in the car until help arrives.
  • However, if staying in the car puts you in physical danger, for instance the car is on fire, follow these steps:
    • Open the door and avoid touching the framework.
    • Jump out of the car as far as you can.
    • Use short shuffling footsteps until you are clear of the area.

And after the storm passes, avoid tree trimming scams that are rampant in our community.

8 Ways to Prepare for Significant Rain and Flooding

(Updated Oct. 2, 8:40 a.m.)

There’s a lot of rain on tap until Saturday, which could cause some serious flooding situations.

There are two storms to keep in mind:

  1. Friday to Saturday: The National Weather Service is predicting 2 to 3 inches of rain with likely flooding; flood watches are now in effect. The heaviest rain is expected between 2 and 8 p.m. Friday.
  2. Hurricane Joaquin: The path of the hurricane appears to be out to sea rather than on land; keep an eye on weather forecasts.

Here are 8 ways to get ready for the Friday to Saturday rain:

#1: Turn Around, Don’t Drown

If you’re out amid all of the rain that’s coming, we know this message may sound a little funny, but swift water rescues happen in our county when roads flood. Don’t drive through any flooded roads — “turn around, don’t drown.”

#2: Kids and Creeks

Do not allow children to play near creeks or other bodies of water that may rise rapidly. Many of our local waterways and creeks will likely experience some flooding, so keep kids away.

#3: Storm Drains and Gutters

It’s fall, so many of our storm drains and gutters are covered in leaves. Clear leaves from storm drains, gutters and other areas that, if clogged, could cause flooding.  If you live within a homeowner’s association or apartment complex check in to see if they plan to clear common areas.

#4: Move Valuables to Higher Ground

If you live in low-lying areas that have flooded before, move vehicles to higher ground. Try to avoid parking under trees when possible because the saturated ground may lead to downed trees. Move any valuables from the basement, especially if your basement has flooded before. Take pictures of your property before the storms to help validate any insurance claims.

#5: Sandbags

If you think you may need sandbags to protect your property from flooding, especially in areas that historically flood, please visit a local hardware store and get supplies there. Fairfax County does not provide sandbags.

#6: Fairfax Alerts and Wireless Emergency Alerts

Be sure to sign up for Fairfax Alerts and get the latest local watches, warnings and weather updates sent to your various devices. If you own a smartphone and if a dangerous situation warrants based on your location, then you will receive Wireless Emergency Alerts, which is separate from Fairfax Alerts. Wireless Emergency Alerts come with a distinct ringtone and vibration pattern in order to get your attention. Pay attention to these alerts, which are usually sent by the National Weather Service.

#7: Supplies and Gas

Get your supplies – water, medicines, canned food, cash, pet food and more. View suggestions for emergency supply kits. In advance of all of this weather, it’s always a good idea to get a full tank of gas if you own a car.

#8: 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.

National Preparedness Month: Hurricanes and Inclement Weather

Posted at 12:30 p.m.

Hurricanes can bring heavy rain, high winds and power outages can occur. Flooding, downed power lines, uprooted trees and flooded vehicles are all possible.

To stay safe, make sure you have an emergency kit prepared and listen to any and all messages from emergency response personnel.

In this video, Sulayman Brown with our emergency management office, discusses hurricane and severe weather safety.

To stay safe from hurricanes and inclement weather, be sure to sign up for severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts (

Learn more about preparing for hurricanes, as well as all hazards, on our emergency information Web page.


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