Posted at 1:30 p.m.
It’s all over social media, and it did over $54 million at the box office in its opening weekend. What are we talking about? The movie “San Andreas,” which chronicles the potential destruction from a magnitude 9 earthquake and subsequent, even larger, aftershocks.
The great thing about the movie — and all of the Hollywood special effects — is that after the movie is over and the popcorn is eaten, you get to go home safe and sound. However, the reality is that an earthquake can very well be a devastating natural disaster.
Reality vs. Hollywood
Prior to the movies’ release, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake last month, followed by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake, rocked the country of Nepal, with casualties in the thousands and tens of thousands left homeless; over 8,000 people have been killed from these combined earthquakes.
You also may remember the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Mineral, Va., in August 2011. It caused significant structural damage from central Virginia to southern Maryland and the Washington D.C. area, to include Fairfax County. The quake, with hundreds of aftershocks, damaged more than 1,400 homes and businesses in Virginia.
Now’s a great time — while the topic is fresh on our minds — to remind ourselves of the proper steps to take during an earthquake: “Drop, Cover and Hold On!”
There are simple actions we all should do to get prepared to survive and recover. Visit www.earthquakecountry.org/sevensteps to learn more.
- Preparedness and San Andreas Movie fact/fiction: www.earthquakecountry.org
- Earthquakes, Megaquakes and the Movies: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/topics/megaquakes.php
- Earthquake Facts and Earthquake Fantasy: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/topics/megaqk_facts_fantasy.php
Posted at 11 a.m.
Now is a good time to plan how to protect your family during these powerful storms in advance of the Atlantic hurricane season, which begins on Monday, June 1. The “How to Prepare for a Hurricane” guide (PDF) provides valuable information about planning for evacuation and shelter, and how to avoid flood waters and high winds during a hurricane.
Whitney Kazragis from our emergency management office also has some great advice on preparing — as well as how to save money on your preparedness supplies during the statewide hurricane preparedness sales tax holiday, underway now through Sunday, May 31.
Posted at 1 p.m.
The 2015 hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Though hurricanes don’t typically make landfall in Fairfax County, the effects of high winds and flooding can wreak havoc on our community and businesses.
To assist in preparing for hurricane season, Virginia will hold its Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness Equipment Sales Tax Holiday May 25-31.
During this time, items such as batteries, generators up to $1,000, chainsaws up to $340, smoke detectors, first-aid kits, flashlights and more will be tax-free. Check out the flyer below with details on items you can purchase — tax-free — or this list of tax-exempt items (PDF) from the Virginia Department of Taxation.
The hurricane preparedness sales tax holiday is part of the statewide Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week, May 24-30, that coincides with National Hurricane Preparedness Week sponsored by the National Weather Service.
Posted at 10 a.m.
Our Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is hosting several emergency preparedness volunteer opportunities this month.
Volunteers are invited to participate in a new outreach program — Be a Home HERO (Home Emergency Response Options) — that delivers emergency preparedness information and supplies to neighborhoods across Fairfax County.
Help your community get better prepared. Check out these events where you can be a Home HERO.
- Emergency Information Bag Packing – Volunteers are invited to pack emergency information bags from 5:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, May 7, at the McConnell Public Safety and Transportation Operations Center (MPSTOC), 4890 Alliance Drive, Fairfax. Volunteers will receive dinner, a t-shirt and a tour of the Fairfax County Emergency Operations Center. Register online at http://bit.ly/1DyowbK.
- STEP Program Bag Packing – The Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP) program brings emergency preparedness to Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) fourth grade classrooms. Volunteers are invited to help pack student backpacks with emergency flashlights, blankets, homework assignments and other preparedness information. Volunteers will be provided drinks and snacks. The STEP bag packing effort will be held on Saturday, May 9, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at MPSTOC, 4890 Alliance Drive, Fairfax. Register at http://bit.ly/1HfWj0y.
- Emergency Information Neighborhood Program – Saturday, May 16, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Oakton High School, 2900 Sutton Road, Vienna. Breakfast and lunch are provided! Register at http://bit.ly/1J6GxWu.
For more information about any of these events, contact OEM at 571-350-1000, TTY 711, or email email@example.com.
Posted at 10 a.m.
National PrepareAthon Day is tomorrow, Thursday, April 30. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, reports that millions of residents across the country will take an action to prepare for emergencies.
If you would like to participate, but aren’t quite sure of how, the above FEMA graphic provides guidance with 10 things you can do. Don’t worry. You don’t have to do all 10 immediately, but try to accomplish as many as you can so that you and your family will be better prepared for any emergency.
Posted at 11 a.m.
Worship Watch Meeting
Unfortunately, houses of worship are not immune to criminal activity. Common crimes targeted towards them include larceny, burglary, vandalism and arson.
Fairfax County Police are hosting a Worship Watch workshop, free of charge, tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28, from 6-9 p.m. at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 8304 Old Keene Mill Road, Springfield. RSVP to attend the meeting. If you have questions or need more information, call 703-360-8928, TTY 711.
Worship Watch encourages congregants to become more involved in reducing the opportunity for crimes to occur on facility premises. Workshop attendees will receive crime prevention training, facility security assessments, information on how to receive crime alerts and community information, and other valuable crime prevention tools.
Fairfax County Police implemented this new program in February, modeled after Neighborhood Watch, aiming to help keep houses of worship safe and crime-free.
Webinar: Preparing Houses of Worship for Emergencies
The Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are hosting a webinar to prepare faith-based organizations for disaster.
The webinar — “Preparing Houses of Worship for Emergencies” — will provide faith-based and community organizations with critical local, state and national resources that can help get communities better prepared for disasters and emergencies. Subject matter experts from emergency management, the faith-based and volunteer sectors, and the federal government will answer questions about engaging the faith-based community in disaster preparedness activities.
Preparing Houses of Worship for Emergencies will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28, from 2-3 (ET). Open this link to join in and watch the webinar.
Posted at 12:30 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for Fairfax County and portions of the National Capital Region for this afternoon and evening, with thunderstorms likely late this afternoon and evening. According to the outlook, a few of the thunderstorms may become severe with a threat of damaging wind gusts, large hail and an isolated tornado.
Our Office of Emergency Management has been in contact with the local National Weather Service office, which predicts the severe weather will move into our area between 4-6 p.m.
New Severe Thunderstorm Risk Categories
To help us better understand thunderstorms — like today’s risk — the Storm Prediction Center has worked closely with National Weather Service (NWS) offices, social scientists, communication specialists, FEMA, forecasters and the general public, to arrive at a new five-category description of severe thunderstorm risks.
Learn more about severe weather at www.spc.noaa.gov/misc/about.html#Severe.
In addition, remember to sign up for severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts, which can be sent to multiple email accounts as well as your cellphone(s).
Posted at 12:45 p.m.
Get ready for an exciting conversation on emergency preparedness for the entire family, presented by four women who have one title in common — mom.
These moms are well-known bloggers who will offer tips, actions and insights on how to get your family prepared for disasters. In addition, many of the preparedness actions discussed during the webinar will also qualify for participation in America’s PrepareAthon! (which, just like mom, wants you to be safe in case of an emergency).
Join the conversation on Thursday, April 16, at 2 p.m.
The webinar, “Easy Ways to Help Prepare Your Family for Disasters,” will feature preparedness information from:
- Shelle Wells, blogger for Preparedness Mama.
- Erica Mueller, blogger for Mom Prepares.
- Tanya Ferraro, blogger for Bigger than Myself.
- Shelly Lopez-Gray, blogger for Adventures of a Labor Nurse.
Register at http://bit.ly/1DuOd38. This webinar will offer closed captioning.
Posted at 8:30 a.m.
Today is the day for the annual statewide tornado drill. It happens at 9:45 a.m. We hope you’ve registered, although it isn’t necessary to do so in order to participate in the drill.
This morning’s drill begins with the National Weather Service (NWS) sending a test tornado warning that will trigger a tone alert and broadcast message on NOAA Weather Radio. The message will be picked up by TV and radio broadcasts via the Emergency Alert System, simulating what you would hear during an actual tornado warning. Fairfax Alerts will also send an alert to begin the drill. (If you haven’t yet registered for Fairfax Alerts, it doesn’t take long — go ahead and sign up now.)
When the test tornado warning sounds or when you receive your Fairfax Alert message, you should move as quickly as possible to a safe area in a sturdy building. Safe areas are basements and interior rooms on the lowest level of a building such as bathrooms, closets or hallways. Once in the safe area, crouch down or sit on the floor facing down and cover your head with your hands. Also be sure to stay away from windows.
Twelve tornadoes impacted Virginia in 2014, causing numerous injuries and more than $700,000 in property damage. Tornadoes can happen anytime, anywhere, with little or no warning, and you need to know the drill. Knowing what to do when seconds count can save lives.
For more information about tornado safety and to register for this morning’s statewide tornado drill, go to www.ReadyVirginia.gov.
Posted at 9:15 a.m.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17, is St. Patrick’s Day — a time to wear green and celebrate.
But as Whitney Kazragis from our emergency management office demonstrates, St. Patrick’s Day can also be a great time to save some “green” while getting better prepared for any type of emergency — and without having to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.