Posted at 10:15 a.m.
Did you know that nearly 70 percent of all U.S. businesses will lose power at one point in the next 12 months? Do you have a plan in place to keep your operations running? How will you rebuild your business if your employees are unable to report to work after a major disaster? Is your organization prepared to communicate quickly and effectively with each other when a crisis hits?
Having a business continuity plan is essential to establishing a successful and resilient small business. The cost of creating a disaster preparedness plan is small compared to the financial losses that may occur if there’s no plan in place.
You can get help with your own preparedness planning through a series of free webinars this month hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration and Agility Recovery. The series is presented in collaboration with FEMA’s Ready Campaign, during National Preparedness Month (NPM). The 2015 NPM theme is “Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make your emergency plan Today.”
The 30-minute webinars will be presented at 2 p.m. EDT each Wednesday in September.
- Sept. 9: “The Keystone to Disaster Recovery: Communications”
- Sept. 16: “Recover from the Most Likely Disaster: Power Outage”
- Sept. 23: “Protect Your Most Valuable Asset: Prepare Your Employees”
- Sept. 30: “If You Do Nothing Else this Year…” Simple tips to build your organization’s resilience
To register for any of the webinars, go to http://agilityrecovery.com/buildingblocks/#section-register.
Published at 11:30 a.m.
National Preparedness Month, which begins today, highlights hazard-focused themes leading up to the National PrepareAthon! Day on Wednesday, Sept. 30. During the month, FEMA and our emergency management office will be focusing on several specific hazards, encouraging us to be better prepared for them and offering suggestions on steps to take to be ready.
Over the course of the month, we’ll focus on flooding, hurricanes and power outages — all real events that can happen here and to any one of use at any time.
The overall theme for this year’s preparedness month is “Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.”
Throughout September, we encourage you to take part in preparedness activities and events, know what to do during an emergency and most importantly, make a plan. This means having an up-to-date contact list for those you may need to reach during a disaster and establishing alternate methods of communication in case traditional means are not available.
As we begin our focus on preparedness this month, one of the first steps you should take is to make an emergency plan. FEMA has emergency plan templates on its website that you can use. In addition, our emergency management office partnered with other emergency management agencies in Northern Virginia to create ReadyNOVA.org, a website where you can create your family emergency plan online, save it to your personal computer or mobile device and print it out and keep it with you so you’ll have it when you need it. And the ReadyNOVA site will not save any of your personal information.
We realize that there are special months, weeks and days celebrated and recognized every day of the year and that National Preparedness Month might get lost in all the advertising of other special months, like Eat Chicken Month, Happy Cat Month, National Honey Month, National Mushroom Month, Update Your Resume Month, National Coupon Month and Shameless Promotion Month.
However… and we recognize the fact that we’re a little biased… the importance of making an emergency plan to prepare yourself and your family in case of an emergency seems a tad bit more important than some of these other recognitions, although we do like honey, chicken, mushrooms and saving money with coupons.
So make your emergency plan today (if you have one, update it) and stay tuned throughout the month for more on being prepared for any emergency. And for you over achievers looking to do more, use the 30 ways in 30 days preparedness tips.
Posted at 1:45 p.m.
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and also trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.
With this training, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available.
- CERT Class 100 at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Academy
Monday, Wednesday, 9/14, 16, 21, 23, 28, 30 and 10/5 — 7-10:30 p.m.
- CERT Class 101 at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Academy
Monday, Wednesday, 10/14, 19, 21, 26, 28, 11/2 and 11/4 — 7-10:30 p.m.
- CERT Class 102 at the Old Firehouse Teen Center
Tuesday, 9/22, 29, 10/6, 13, 20, 27 and 11/3 — 7-10 p.m.
- CERT Class 103 at the Lorton Volunteer Fire Department
Wednesday, 9/23, 30, 10/7, 14, 21, 28, 11/4 and 11/11 — 7-10 p.m.
CERT training does not require any special physical strength or agility and is free. The CERT program also provides personal protective equipment for the training that students keep.
Those who go through CERT training have a better understanding of the potential threats to their home, workplace and community and can take the right steps to reduce the effects of hazards.
Posted at 10 a.m.
Our Office of Emergency Management is now accepting applications — until Aug. 21 — for its fall internship program.
The office offers several unpaid internship positions and is seeking applicants with the following skills and interests:
- Emergency training and exercises.
- Marketing and communications.
Internship positions are best suited for undergraduates, graduate students or recent graduates with a background in emergency management, homeland security, public safety, public administration, public relations or communications. The ideal candidate should also have a strong interest in the field of emergency management.
Interns are required to commit at least 15-20 hours per week during the regular business hours of Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Interns may be asked to work outside of normal business hours for special events or during a disaster response when the Emergency Operations Center is activated.
More information and position descriptions can be found at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/oem/internship.
Posted at 10 a.m.
Beginning this Friday, Aug. 7, and ending on Sunday, Aug. 9, Virginia will hold a sales tax holiday.
Back-to-school supplies such as clothes, backpacks, pens, pencils, binders and pads can be purchased tax-free, in addition to energy efficient appliances. Emergency preparedness supplies like flashlights, weather radios, fire extinguishers, batteries and first-aid kits also are available for tax-free purchase.
So get ready for school – and be prepared for any emergency – during the Sales Tax Holiday weekend, Aug. 7-9.
Visit www.tax.virginia.gov for more on the tax holiday and what qualifies for a tax-free purchase.
Posted at 10 a.m.
Fairfax Alerts is Fairfax County’s way of sending you emergency alerts, as well as severe traffic and weather alerts, right to your smartphone and email inbox.
Check out this video showing just one way that Fairfax Alerts can make a positive impact in your life.
Sign up for alerts today at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts.
Posted at 1:30 p.m.
Did you know when you call our 9-1-1 center, that you are reaching one of the best trained centers in the country?
The county’s 9-1-1 Call Center, also called the Department of Public Safety Communications (DPSC), has met the training standards for the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International Agency Training Program Certification.
Only 52 of the more than 6,100 U.S. public safety communications centers have reached this plateau of achievement and excellence. This marks the second time DPSC has earned this distinction.
Public safety agencies utilize the APCO International training certification program as a formal way to ensure their training programs meet national standards.
In the video below, Steve Souder, director of the 9-1-1 Center, and Tammy Murcek, training and career development manager, explain the training program and the certification.
“The Department of Public Safety Communications has shown dedication to their community and those they serve by renewing their certification,” noted APCO President John Wright.
The APCO certification was effective July 2. The center will be recognized on Aug. 19 during APCO’s 81st Annual Conference & Expo in Washington, D.C.
Learn more about the county’s 9-1-1 Center.
Posted at 11 a.m.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a heat advisory from noon until 8 p.m. Heat index values are expected to be between 102 – 107 degrees. There also is a marginal risk for a strong or severe thunderstorm.
Wally Simmons of our Risk Management Division has some good tips for staying cool and safe outside, especially for those who have to work outside during high heat.
According to the weather service, heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year and even more heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion.
Heat Safety Tips
The best line of defense against these illnesses is prevention. The following tips will help you stay safe when the mercury rises:
- Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun. Should you need some respite from the heat, take in a movie or visit a nearby shopping center or mall. We also have several county facilities that serve as cooling centers — libraries, community centers and the Fairfax County Government Center — where you can get in out of the heat. Please check the operating hours to make sure the facility is open before arriving.
- Stay on the lowest level out of the sun if air conditioning is unavailable.
- Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
- Avoid doing strenuous work outside during the warmest part of the day.
When necessary, NWS issues heat-related alerts to help you prepare for extreme weather conditions. To learn more about these alerts and how they impact you visit www.nws.noaa.gov/om/heat/ww.shtml. And to sign up for severe weather alerts to you email inbox and by text on your smartphone, sign up for Fairfax Alerts.
Today is also a code orange air quality day, meaning air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups. Children and adults with respiratory and heart sensitivity should limit outdoor activity. In addition, everyone should take these steps to help our air quality:
- Refuel after dusk, use fuel-efficient vehicles.
- Avoid driving, use transit and telework.
- Avoid using aerosol products.
UPDATE: July 15
Thanks for the amazing response to our call for volunteers! As of today, all of our volunteer spots are now filled, but stay tuned, more programs and volunteer opportunities will be available in the future.
Posted at 11 a.m.
We need 30 volunteers (age 16+) to help stuff emergency information bags on Saturday, July 25, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Volunteer a couple of hours to help our Office of Emergency Management (OEM) prepare for upcoming outreach events.
In addition to the help you’ll provide in preparing emergency information bags, you’ll also get a sneak peek at the county’s Emergency Operations Center and learn about emergency preparedness. Plus, light breakfast snacks will be served!
Listen as Whitney Kazragis, community outreach liaison with OEM, encourages volunteering for the July 25th bag packing event.
Registration – 9:30 a.m.
Volunteer Briefing – 9:45 a.m.
Emergency Information Bag Packing – 10 a.m.
Emergency Operations Center Tour and Presentation – 11:30 a.m.
If you have any questions about the bag packing event, or to learn more about emergency preparedness, call 571-350-1000, TTY 711; email email@example.com. You can also request an OEM representative to attend your community event or give a presentation about emergency preparedness at your homeowners association or civic association meeting.
Posted at 1:30 p.m.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a hazardous weather outlook for Fairfax County and much of the National Capital Region, calling for thunderstorms likely late this afternoon and evening. NWS notes that some of the thunderstorms may become severe with damaging wind gusts; large hail and an isolated tornado are also possible. (complete forecast)
With recent rains, we have seen many flooded roads in the county making travel dangerous. Dave McKernan, coordinator of emergency management, encourages you to turn around, don’t drown.
It is often difficult to tell how deep water may be, especially at night. Just 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. It is never safe to drive or walk into flood waters.
In addition, please remember to keep children away from creeks and streams as the water may rise quickly. And if you are in a low area or near a small stream or drainage ditch, expect water to rise rapidly. Stay safe and head to higher ground if needed.
Finally, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) reports that property owners are responsible for the maintenance of drainage facilities, such as ditches and channels, on their property when the facilities are not part of a VDOT-owned drainage easement or a county easement. Property owners are responsible for keeping stormwater free-flowing through their land, by keeping grass clippings, leaves and other debris from accumulating. This will help to avoid water from ponding on the road, which could cause a major safety hazard and pavement damage.