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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.

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:



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.

Get a Kit, Make a Plan and Stay Informed

Posted at 1 p.m.

September is National Preparedness Month. In this video, Dave McKernan, our emergency management coordinator, encourages you to be prepared for any hazard. This includes getting the necessary training, plans and information needed to stay safe.

Take these simple steps to being better prepared: Get a kit, make a plan and stay informed — and sign up for Fairfax Alerts at

Text to 9-1-1 Launches in Fairfax County

9:25 a.m.

This morning, Fairfax County’s 9-1-1 Center began accepting text to 9-1-1 calls for service. Fairfax County is the first jurisdiction in Northern Virginia – and one of the largest 9-1-1 Centers in the country – to implement this service.

Text to 9-1-1 is available within Fairfax County and the Towns of Herndon, Vienna, Clifton and the City of Fairfax.  The service is set up to operate similar to the way 9-1-1 voice calls are handled.  A text to 9-1-1 call will generally route the same way a voice call to 9-1-1 is routed.

Text to 9-1-1 is intended primarily for use in three emergency scenarios:

  • For an individual who is deaf, hard-of-hearing or has a speech disability.
  • For someone who is in a situation where it is not safe to place a voice call to 9-1-1.
  • A medical emergency that renders the person incapable of speech.

In this video, Steve Souder, director of our 9-1-1 Center, explains what text to 9-1-1 is and how it benefits the residents of the county.

Voice calls are the best and preferred method for contacting 9-1-1. However, remember this important phrase: Call if you can. Text if you can’t.

text to 9-1-1 logo

If text to 9-1-1 is not available in your area, users should receive a message indicating that text to 9-1-1 is not available and to contact 9-1-1 by phone.

  • As with all text messages, 9-1-1 text messages can take longer to receive, may be delivered out of order, or may not be received at all.
  • Text to 9-1-1 is not available if you are in a “roaming” situation.
  • A text or data plan is required to place a text to 9-1-1.
  • Photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1 at this time.
  • Text to 9-1-1 cannot include more than one person. Do not copy your emergency text to anyone other than 9-1-1. Wait until you are safe to notify others of your situation.
  • Do not text and drive.

Learn more online at


National Preparedness Month Flood Safety Information

Posted at 2:30 p.m.

This is National Preparedness Month. During the month, our Office of Emergency Management is sharing news and tips about ways you can help stay safe during all types of emergencies.

Today, Dean Sherick, community outreach liaison, discuss flood safety. Flooding is one of those hazards that can happen at any time and anywhere, so this is an important video to watch.

Get more flood safety information on our emergency Web page and be sure to check out our 30 ways to prepare tips for some quick and easy steps you can take to be prepared for any emergency.

Free National Preparedness Month Webinar Series

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


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