Posted at 9:45 a.m.
Tornadoes can happen anywhere and at any time of year, making preparedness for these potentially deadly storms even more important. For example, Fairfax County had a couple of tornado watches and tornado warnings in 2014.
To be better prepared, businesses and organizations, schools and colleges, and families and individuals can practice taking cover from tornadoes by participating in the annual Statewide Tornado Drill Tuesday, March 17, at 9:45 a.m.
Registration for the tornado drill is not necessary, but you can learn more and show your support by signing up at www.ReadyVirginia.gov.
The annual drill is a joint effort of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service (NWS).
To start the tornado drill at 9:45 a.m. on March 17, the NWS will send 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, simulating what listeners will hear during an actual tornado warning.
“Receiving a tornado warning as quickly as possible can make the difference between life and death,” said Bill Sammler, NWS warning coordination meteorologist. “One of the fastest ways for people to get a tornado warning is by NOAA Weather Radio, which provides warning information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. However, cellphone apps such as Ready Virginia are also available that quickly provide critical warning information at little or no cost. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) also provide tornado and flash flood warnings via text message to any compatible cell within the warning area, even if you are visiting or just traveling through an affected area.”
For help in conducting a tornado drill and to register for next week’s statewide drill, go to www.ReadyVirginia.gov.
Posted at 11:30 a.m.
The exercise is on Saturday, Nov. 15, from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Lorton training site, located at the former Lorton Juvenile Detention Center in Lorton. The exercise is perfect for drama classes, students needing community service hours, retired persons, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and anyone interested in disasters.
Victim actors must:
- Be 16 years of age or older.
- Wear closed-toe shoes (no flip-flops, Crocs, sandals, etc.).
- Dress in clothes appropriate for the weather and that you don’t mind messing up with fake blood, etc.
- Sign a waiver.
CERT will provide simulated wound makeup and give you symptoms to role-play during the exercise. And when the exercise is over, they’ll also feed you lunch.
To volunteer for the Nov. 15 exercise, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted at 2 p.m.
Volunteer Fairfax and Faith Communities in Action held a Community Collaboration for Disaster Resiliency Summit earlier this year. Organizations such as faith and community-based organizations, disaster volunteer groups, residential management groups, civic associations and representatives from the private, public and nonprofit sectors involved with disaster recovery attended.
We all know that in times of disaster, we can’t recover without community support. So in an effort to continue the conversation started earlier this year with the summit, Volunteer Fairfax received funding to conduct a pilot program in the Mason, Braddock and Sully Districts.
As part of this pilot, an educational seminar and practice exercise will be held in each of these districts as an opportunity for local community partners to meet and better understand how we can best work together in response to a disaster.
Mason District Seminar
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 29
Time: 5-8 p.m.
Location: Annandale United Methodist Church, 6935 Columbia Pike, Annandale
Mason District Exercise
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 3
Time: 5-8 p.m.
Location: Heritage Center, conference rooms C & D, 7611 Little River Turnpike, Annandale
Leaders and decision-makers at area community-based organizations, local nonprofits, faith-based groups, homeowners associations, PTAs and first responders should attend. There is no cost to attend and dinner is even included. If your organization serves this region, we welcome you to join the conversation and attend.
If you need more information — or if your organization serves the Braddock or Sully Districts — contact Tracy Friend with Volunteer Fairfax for more details.
Posted at 8:30 a.m.
Get ready… it’s almost time!
The Great Southeast ShakeOut earthquake drill begins today at 10:16 a.m. and you can participate where ever you might be. The earthquake drill is a great time to practice the actions you should take during a real earthquake — drop, cover and hold on:
- DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you).
- Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table.
- HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.
Earthquakes happen without warning, and the shaking may be so severe that you cannot run or crawl. So drop, cover and hold one immediately.
Posted at 2 p.m.
County emergency management, public works, public safety, human services, public information officers and related county agencies — along with the American Red Cross — will participate in an emergency exercise tomorrow, Thursday, June 26.
The exercise, called VERTEX 2014, is based around a weather scenario in which a category three hurricane makes landfall in Virginia, causing severe damage throughout the county requiring the opening of a shelter for displaced residents.
The exercise will be held in three locations:
You should not be alarmed if you see numerous public safety vehicles and county staff at either the library or the high school. This is only an exercise.
Public safety and public works staff will be exercising incident command principles including unified command and will be based in the library parking lot (weather permitting). This exercise will enhance the multiagency planning and response to the threats that face our community during a severe weather event.
Human services staff and volunteers, along with the American Red Cross, will be setting up a shelter at the high school to test the county’s shelter plan.
The exercise will be coordinated from the EOC and supported by additional county staff exercising from that location.
We’re preparing for the next emergency in our community. Are you ready? Take a look at these resources to get better prepared for the next emergency.
Posted 11 a.m.
Local, state and federal law enforcement, along with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and Virginia Department of Transportation, will conduct a multi-jurisdictional “HOV Reversal Exercise.” The exercise will begin promptly at 11 a.m. and should not affect routine traffic flow within the Northern Virginia region.
Beginning at 11 a.m., those traveling along Interstates 95, 395, 495, and 66 can expect to see an increased presence of local, state and federal law enforcement personnel and VDOT Safety Services Patrol personnel at various exit ramps and locations. The exercise requires law enforcement to report to their designated locations to test deployment practices along the interstate system between Northern Virginia and Caroline County, Va. In addition, this operation facilitates the interoperability of communications systems among the participating agencies.
To minimize any impact on traffic, the exercise is timed to correspond with the regular, mid-morning HOV ramp closures. As soon as the first responders have confirmed their location and presence, they will be dismissed from that location.
“This is a ‘no-notice’ event, meaning that the first responders have not been apprised of the exercise in advance,” said Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker. “The purpose of this traffic management exercise is to test and evaluate the preparedness of first responder agencies throughout the National Capital Region. Geography, population and infrastructure make being able to execute a plan of this nature a critical necessity for the safety and protection of everyone living, working and visiting the region in the case of a manmade or natural disaster.”
Participating agencies include Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Emergency Management, City of Alexandria Police, Arlington County Police, District of Columbia Department of Transportation, Fairfax County Police, Metropolitan Police, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, Pentagon Force Protection Agency and Prince William County Police.
Posted at 8:35 a.m.
The Statewide Tornado Drill is this morning at 9:45 a.m. Our emergency management office will send a Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN) message announcing the drill so you won’t forget to participate. If you are not registered for CEAN alerts, take this opportunity to do so.
What You Should Do During the Drill?
- You should act as though a tornado warning has been issued for the immediate area or a tornado has been sighted near your home or office building. Move as quickly as possible to the nearest shelter or other safe place. Use stairs to reach the lowest level of a building; avoid using elevators.
- Make sure that any visitors to your office know that this is a drill, not a real event. Assist any visitors to shelter.
- In a real tornado emergency, once you reach a safe area, crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down and cover your heads with their hands. Ensure that everyone in your organization knows this. You can practice crouching down.
Tornadoes can happen anytime, anywhere with little or no warning. Knowing what to do when seconds count can save lives. How will you respond to a tornado warning?
Know the Terms:
- Tornado Watch – Conditions are favorable for a tornado and that tornadoes are possible.
- Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or has been indicated by National Weather Service Doppler radar and might be headed your when. When a warning is issued, take cover immediately.
Do You Know What to Do if a Tornado Approaches?
If a tornado is headed your way:
- Shelter immediately in the nearest substantial building. Go to the building’s basement.
- If there is no basement in your home or office, move to a small, windowless, interior room such as a closet, bathroom or interior hall on the lowest level of the building.
- If you are in a high rise building go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
- When shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area (do not get under an overpass or bridge).
For more information or assistance with emergency planning, contact our emergency management office at 571-350-1000, TTY 711.
Posted at 11:48 a.m.
It’s one month away! Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill is scheduled for Tuesday, March 12, at 9:45 a.m. The date also will be observed as Tornado Preparedness Day across the state.
The tornado drill is an important statewide safety exercise. In recent years Virginia has been hard hit by multiple tornadoes that have cost lives and left extensive property damage. Some communities continue to recover from devastating tornadoes.
In each of the past two years, some 1.2 million Virginians have registered to participate in the Statewide Tornado Drill. Registration for this year’s drill is now open. To register and to learn more about planning a tornado drill, go to www.vaemergency.gov and click through the rotating graphics at the top of the page, or go to www.ReadyVirginia.gov.
Additional help in planning a tornado drill is available through the county’s Office of Emergency Management at 571-350-1000, TTY 711. The Statewide Tornado Drill is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Ready Virginia and the National Weather Service in cooperation with local emergency management offices.
You may also want to go back and look at a recap article from the county’s three-day tornado exercise held last year, “Tornado Education, Engagement and Exercise.” It includes links to resources to know the difference between a tornado watch and warning, how to recognize the danger signs of a tornado, 10 questions to ask if a tornado strikes Fairfax County, and a daily recap of each day of the exercise that provides some valuable insight into what actions the county will be going through if a major tornado were to strike here.
If widespread severe weather threatens on March 12, the drill will be rescheduled for Wednesday, March 13, at 9:45 a.m.
Posted at 1:24 p.m.
On Tuesday, Oct. 9, you can expect to see an increase in helicopter traffic in the vicinity of Interstate 95, Exit 161 and the Lorton Training Facility due to Capital Shield 13, a National Capital Region emergency exercise. Helicopter flights are anticipated between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Residents should note that this exercise will simulate the movement and treatment of mock victims to area hospitals. This exercise will not impact your ability to be promptly seen at local hospitals, however, you may see people dressed up to look like they have been severely injured. Residents should not be alarmed. This is a planned exercise to test the region’s capability to respond to a mass casualty scenario.
The emergency exercise is an interagency emergency management exercise conducted throughout the National Capital Region (NCR). The annual exercise brings federal and local agencies together to realistically test interagency operability to an event impacting D.C., Va. and Md.
More than 50 participating agencies from the Department of Defense, local response agencies and local hospitals will perform mock rescues, triage, treat and transport victims by helicopter and ambulance to area hospitals. The goal of the exercise is to ensure that government agencies at every level are prepared to take coordinated action to protect the public in the event of an actual disaster in the NCR.
During the last 10 days, we’ve engaged you on this blog, Facebook and Twitter about tornadoes. In an effort to compile most of our posts in one place, here are the key entries we’d ask you to read, discuss and then take necessary preparedness actions so our whole community is better prepared in the event of any incident from tornadoes to floods to terrorism: