Posted at 1 p.m.
Even though the majority of Fairfax County residents say they feel prepared for a large-scale emergency, a significant portion of households do not have a communication plan for family members or an emergency supply kit at home, according to a recent survey.
Coinciding with National Preparedness Month, the county’s Health Department released the report today from its Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) conducted in June to see how ready county residents are for a variety of emergencies.
Volunteers from the Fairfax Medical Reserve Corps., American Red Cross and employees from the Health Department spent roughly 40 hours from June 4-16 going door-to-door in randomly selected neighborhoods within Fairfax County. A total of 1,227 households were approached and 253 interviews completed. The data obtained was then analyzed and compiled into a concise report that can be found at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/hd/ep/pdf/casper-final-report-2016.pdf (PDF).
According to the survey results:
- Roughly 60 percent of households have an emergency communication plan.
- 39 percent have a designated meeting place within the neighborhood. Only 19 percent have practiced the plan with all members of the household.
- About 54 percent of respondents reported keeping an emergency supply kit (with items like flashlights, non-perishable food and drinking water) in the home; only 45 percent have a similar kit in their vehicle.
The report also reveals that almost 85 percent of respondents would seek information from Fairfax County Government during an emergency, but less than half (47 percent) of households are enrolled in Fairfax Alerts or a similar emergency alerting system. Television and the Internet were cited by respondents as the most popular sources of information during an emergency.
- Nearly 17 percent of residents feel unprepared in the event of a large-scale emergency.
- About 91 percent of pet owners surveyed reported that they would take their pet with them in in the event of an evacuation but only 40 percent of pet owners have emergency supplies ready for their pets.
- In 40 percent of households, someone has taken training in CPR and in 36 percent of households someone has taken training in first aid.
- Nearly 30 percent of Fairfax County households do not currently have a working carbon monoxide detector in their homes.
Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER)
CASPER is a tool developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to enable government at all levels to rapidly assess a community’s health needs after a disaster, as well as to measure community preparedness for disasters or emergencies using a validated sampling methodology.
While Fairfax’s CASPER shows that many households still need to take steps to be more prepared, the information is valuable to emergency planners who must anticipate, mitigate, plan for and respond to the potential needs of residents prior to, during and after a disaster.
“The CASPER study is important because it provides us real data specific to residents of Fairfax County that can help shape and direct Fairfax County Government’s preparedness and response efforts,” said Jesse Habourn, a senior emergency planner with the Health Department’s Office of Emergency Preparedness.
Reinforcing the importance of having emergency supplies and an emergency plan, for both people and pets, will be of critical importance going forward.
Encouraging more people to sign up for text notification systems like Fairfax Alerts will also ensure residents are less vulnerable should there be widespread power outages or disruptions to telecommunication services.
Emergency Supply Kit
Everyone should have supplies on hand sufficient for at least three days following an emergency. The kit should be customized to individual and family needs and you should check supplies every six months. For a list of items to include, go to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/prepare/make-a-kit.htm
Make a Plan
If your family is in different locations when disaster strikes, do you know how you will contact each other and reunite at a safe location? ReadyNOVA.org has an online tool that can assist residents and business owners in Northern Virginia to develop a Family Emergency Plan or a Business Emergency Plan. The final plan can be saved as a PDF document and emailed to family, friends and colleagues.
Fairfax County’s Emergency Information Blog is the county’s main communication platform before, during and after an emergency. Residents can also sign up for important and timely weather, traffic and emergency alerts on Fairfax Alerts. To register, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts/.
For more information on emergency preparedness topics in Fairfax County, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/.
Posted at 10:30 a.m.
The Northern Virginia Hazard Mitigation Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from 19 jurisdictions, is in the process of updating the Northern Virginia Hazard Mitigation Plan and having it approved by February 2017 to comply with the five year update cycle required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The 2017 draft Northern Virginia Hazard Mitigation Plan is now available for public review and comment at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/oem/mitigation.
Email any comments to email@example.com no later than Friday, Oct. 2.
Fairfax County is covered under the Northern Virginia Hazard Mitigation Plan that was adopted by the county’s Board of Supervisors in 2012. It has served as a guide for mitigation activities since adoption.
What is Hazard Mitigation Planning?
Hazard mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. It is commonly defined as sustained actions taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property from hazards and their effects. Hazard mitigation focuses attention and resources on community policies and actions that will produce successive benefits over time.
Developing hazard mitigation plans enables local governments to:
- Increase education and awareness around hazards, and vulnerabilities.
- Build partnerships for risk reduction.
- Identify long-term, broadly-supported strategies for risk reduction.
- Align risk reduction with other state, tribal, or community objectives.
- Identify implementation approaches that focus resources on the greatest risks and vulnerabilities.
- Communicate priorities to potential sources of funding.
Moreover, a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan is a condition for receiving certain types of non-emergency disaster assistance, including funding for mitigation projects. Ultimately, hazard mitigation planning enables action to reduce loss of life and property, lessening the impact of disasters.
Posted at 9 a.m.
Seeking accurate information for what is occurring in your area is an important part of being prepared. In this video, Seamus Mooney, coordinator of emergency management for Fairfax County, explains why staying informed is so important and he touches on a few of the means of getting information before, during and after an emergency.
There are a number of sources for the most accurate emergency information including:
- Fairfax Alerts (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts) provides notifications for severe weather, severe traffic, emergency events and a variety of non-emergency notices. You can receive messages via telephone, texts and email. Also, you can customize your Fairfax Alerts with the locations you wish to monitor as well as the type of advisories you wish to receive.
- The Fairfax County Emergency Information Blog (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/blog) is the main communications platform before, during and after an emergency.
- Social media accounts for Facebook (www.facebook.com/fairfaxcounty) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/fairfaxcounty) are staffed during emergencies and provide a means to interact and provide community support.
- Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are emergency messages sent to your cellphone that warn of severe weather, AMBER alerts for children, and threats to safety. The messages are sent to cellphones in the area affected by the emergency.
- Local radio and television stations are provided the most current information available during times of emergency so be sure to identify those sources that may be most involved in your neighborhood.
- Other sources include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (www.noaa.gov) for weather and the National Terrorism Advisory System (https://www.dhs.gov/national-terrorism-advisory-system) for terrorist threats
All of the listed emergency information sources are free but they do require that you have a device to receive the messages.
Be sure to have battery back-up or other means to keep your cellphones, radios and other communication devices available. During mass power outages, information may be delivered door-to-door, through information distribution centers or at community-level evacuation shelters.
Regardless of what your information source may be, make sure that you’re tuned in for the latest in emergency information.
Learn more at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency.
Posted at 2:15 p.m.
This weekend’s bombings in New York and New Jersey — as well as the discovery of several unexploded devices — remind us all that we need to remain vigilant and observant of our everyday surroundings.
As we go about our everyday lives, remember that if you see something suspicious or out of the ordinary, say something.
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.
It’s easy to take for granted the routine moments in our every day — going to work or school, the grocery store or the gas station. But your every day is different than your neighbor’s — filled with the moments that make it uniquely yours. So 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 in your everyday.
If there’s an ongoing emergency, call or text 9-1-1.
If you see something suspicious, here’s how to report it:
- Call 703-802-2746.
- Download an app for your phone to easily report something suspicious [iPhone // Android].
- Submit information through an online form.
- You may also call the Fairfax County non-emergency line at 703-691-2131, TTY 703-877-3715.
When reporting suspicious activity, it is helpful to give the most accurate description possible, including:
- Brief description of the activity.
- Date, time and location of the activity.
- Physical identifiers of anyone you observed.
- Descriptions of vehicles.
- Information about where people involved in suspicious activities may have gone.
Posted at 2 p.m.
As standard homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flooding, it’s important to have insurance for flood damage.
If you live in an area prone to flooding, be sure to take advantage of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Visit www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart for more details, including your flood risk based on address, estimate premiums and more. Also, you can find information and resources covering the different types of property insurance at www.usa.gov/property-insurance.