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Don’t Forget This Morning’s Tornado Drill at 9:45 a.m.

Statewide Tornado Drill

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


Emergency Preparedness: Don’t Leave it to Luck

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.

Learn more about emergency preparedness; and be sure to sign up for emergency alerts for your inbox and cellphone from Fairfax Alerts.

9 Things to Know for Upcoming Snow

Posted 11:22 a.m.

As you’ve likely heard, the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning from 4 p.m. Monday to noon on Tuesday with 6-8 inches predicted for most of Fairfax County. The latest snowfall prediction map is here:

Feb. 15-16 snow predictions

As the storm approaches, here are 9 things to know:

1.) Get Where You Need to Be Before the Weather Gets Bad: Snow is expected to start falling around 4 p.m. so there’s still time to prepare.

2.) VDOT Snow Plowing: The Virginia Department of Transportation is responsible for snow removal on most county roads. VDOT is aggressively pre-treating roads throughout Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties in advance of the snow. By 4 p.m., almost 4,000 trucks will be staged along interstates, major roads and neighborhood streets. You can visit to see the status of plowing in your neighborhood as the storm unfolds. VDOT has more information, including key tips to prepare.

3.) Neighbors: Please make plans to check in on elderly or other housebound people to make sure they are OK and have supplies. After the storm, help dig them out if you’re nearby.

4.) Hypothermia Prevention: If you see an unsheltered person who may be at risk of hypothermia, call the police non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.

5.) Pets: Don’t forget your pets — as conditions deteriorate, bring pets/companion animals inside; move other animals to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

6.) Fire Hydrants: Depending on how much snow we get, there may be a need to dig out fire hydrants. Please note their location near your home now. If you’re able and if we get enough snow, please help dig out fire hydrants when the snow ends.

7.) Fill Your Car: If you have a car, fill your gas tank before the snow flies. Here’s more information on winterizing your vehicle.

8.) Stay Informed: We have many ways you can choose to stay informed:

9.) Shoveling: Make plans to remove snow now. Check out our new resource page, “Take Your Snow and Shovel It” for more information, including this guide on who removes snow:

Snow removal responsibilities

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas from Emergency Management

Posted at 1 p.m.

Valentine’s Day is this Saturday, Feb. 14. Are you prepared?

Emergency Preparedness Gifts for Valentine's Day

There was a big snowstorm on Valentine’s Day last year, which caused a lot of problems for those last minute gift givers. While we aren’t expecting a major snowstorm this year (check the forecast), you still don’t want to wait until the last minute to get your Valentine a gift.

If you’re struggling for what to give, our Office of Emergency Management has some clever ideas for your special Valentine.

Learn more about emergency preparedness — and have a happy Valentine’s Day!

Register Now for Upcoming CERT Training Classes

Posted at 11 a.m.

If you have been waiting to take a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class, there are several upcoming training dates.CERT-logo

  • CERT 92 – At the Burke Conservancy. Classes are Monday and Wednesday from 7-9:30 p.m., March 4, 9, 11, 16, 23, 25, 30 and April 1. (Register for CERT class 92)
  • CERT 93 – At the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Academy. Classes are Wednesday from 7-10:30 p.m., March 4, 11, 18, 25, April 8, 15, 22, and 29. (Register for CERT class 93)
  • CERT 94 – At the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Academy. Classes are Monday and Wednesday from 7-10:30 p.m., April 29, May 4, 6, 11, 13, 18, 20. (Register for CERT class 94)
  • CERT 95 – At the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department. Classes are on Thursday from 7-10:30 p.m., March 5, 12, 26, April 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30. (Register for CERT class 95)


The CERT training program is designed to prepare you in the event of a disaster to help yourself, your family and your neighbors. Through CERT, you can learn about disaster preparedness and receive low-impact training in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, and disaster medical operations. This will enable you to provide immediate assistance and critical support before emergency responders arrive on the scene.

Classroom instruction also incorporates some hands-on skill development and experience in conducting a search and victim assessment.

If you have already taken a CERT class, pass along this information to your friends and family so that they can register for this valuable training and be ready too!

For more information, contact the Fire and Rescue Department Volunteer Liaison’s office at 703-246-4683, TTY 711.

Fairfax County Community Resilience Pilot Program Continues

Summit-LogoPosted at 3 p.m.

The next two events in the Community Resilience Pilot Program will be held in Chantilly (Sully Supervisory District), with a seminar next week and exercise in mid-February.

The seminar is scheduled for Tuesday, January 27, from 5-8:30 p.m. at the Sully District Government Center, 4900 Stonecroft Boulevard, Chantilly (register for the seminar). The exercise will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 17, also from 5-8:30 p.m., at the Sully District Government Center (register for the exercise).

Leaders and decision-makers at area community-based organizations, nonprofits, faith-based groups, homeowner associations, PTAs and first responders should attend. And the best part — both events are free (dinner is included).

The events are part of a pilot project that provides an opportunity for local community partners to meet and better understand how groups can work together in response to a disaster. The program is funded through an Urban Area Security Initiative grant as a means to prepare for and recover from disaster incidents.

The preparedness seminar provides a background on the interaction between first responders, emergency management and the community during disaster events and how the various community representatives can assist. The exercise provides an opportunity for the community members to see how their organization’s personnel and resources can assist during the recovery phase of a disaster.

Top Preparedness Gifts of 2014

top preparedness gifts 2014

Posted at 11 a.m.

Not sure what to give your stubborn sister or that hard-to-buy-for uncle for their birthday or during this holiday season? Give the gift of preparedness!

Our Office of Emergency Management is pleased to announce its top gifts of 2014:NOAA Weather Radio

  • Weather Radio – A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio is like having your own emergency siren in your home. It provides forecasts, watches, warnings and other emergency information around the clock. Cost: $20-$40.
  • Emergency Food – Get creative. Put together a refillable container with their favorite long-lasting high-calorie snacks and drinks. Label it as emergency food and include information about rotating its contents every six months. Suggest they store it at work, in their car or with their home emergency kit. Cost: varies.
  • Emergency Plan – Sit down with your family and develop an emergency plan with the easy-to-use template from Know a neighbor or relative who may need help? Spread good cheer and walk them through filling out the template too. Cost: free.
  • Can Opener – A good-quality handheld can opener will save frustration later.  We hear a can opener fits perfectly into a stocking – naughty or nice! Cost: $10-$14.
  • Emergency Vehicle Kits – You don’t want a loved one getting stuck without some roadside essentials. You could even make your own. Visit to learn more. Cost: around $30-$50.American Red Cross
  • First Aid, AED and CPR Classes – First aid, automated external defibrillator (AED) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills could save a life – maybe even yours. Visit to learn more. This would be a great family activity! Cost: $70-$110.
  • Emergency Blanket – These are great to keep in the glove box – especially during the winter season. Cost: $5 per pack of four.

If your friends and family are already prepared with the items from the above list, consider donating to a disaster relief organization in their honor. And for more on emergency preparedness, call emergency management at 571-350-1000, TTY 711, or email

Community Resilience Pilot Program Exercise Wednesday Night in Mason District

Posted at 12:30 p.m.

Community Collaboration for Community ResiliencyEarlier this year a community resilience seminar was held in Annandale, part of a pilot program funded through a UASI grant to Volunteer Fairfax to host an educational seminar and practice exercise in the Mason, Braddock and Sully Districts. These events are opportunities for local community partners to meet and better understand how we can best work together in response to a disaster.

The Mason District seminar was held in October; the accompanying exercise will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, Dec. 3, from 5-8 p.m. at the Heritage Center, conference rooms C & D,  7611 Little River Turnpike, Annandale.

Leaders and decision-makers of area community-based organizations, nonprofits, faith-based groups, homeowners associations and PTAs should attend. The event is free and dinner is even included!

In times of disaster, it will take everyone to ensure the full recovery of the community. If you can, plan on attending tomorrow’s table-top exercise and practice what was learned during the October seminar.

If you would like to attend or need more information on the exercise — or upcoming seminars/exercises in the Braddock and Sully Districts — contact Tracy Friend with Volunteer Fairfax.

Remember to “Fall Back” Saturday Night

Posted at 2:30 p.m.

Daylight Saving Time ends officially at 2 a.m. tomorrow (Sunday) morning, but most of us use bedtime tonight as the trigger to turn our clocks back one hour before going to bed.

Remember the old saying… “spring forward, fall back.” It’s a great way to remember which way to turn the clocks.

And our fire and rescue and emergency management staffs also encourage you to use Daylight Saving Time as a standard time twice each year to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and to refresh the supplies in your emergency supply kits in your home, car and office.


Volunteers Needed for CERT Exercise

Posted at 11:30 a.m.

Fairfax County’s CERT – the Community Emergency Response Team – is seeking victim actors who can help trainees practice their skills.

CERT-logoThe 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

Seeking Faith Leaders for Community Chaplain Corps

Posted at 1 p.m.

Fairfax County Community Chaplain Corps We are in search of local faith leaders who have an interest in providing pastoral care and support to members of the community in emergency situations as part of our Community Chaplain Corps.

The Community Chaplain Corps works within our emergency management structure to administer to the needs of community members in distress. Community chaplains can be ordained leaders of any religion and must complete a series of five required training courses prior to receiving their certification and credentials from the Office of Emergency Management.

The next training series is scheduled to begin Jan. 12, 2015.

Interested faith leaders must complete and submit applications no later than Nov. 14. Additional information and application materials are available online.

Questions about the Fairfax County Community Chaplain Corps may be directed to the Community Interfaith Coordination Office at, or by calling 703-324-3452, TTY 711.


Seminar and Exercise Program to Address Community Disaster Preparedness

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.


Get Ready to ShakeOut!

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.

Get ready to practice at 10:16 a.m. and take part in the Great Southeast ShakeOut. Learn more at or

National Capital Region Ebola Update

Posted at 3:25 p.m.

There are no cases of Ebola in the National Capital Region. However, measures are in place to effectively deal with an Ebola infected person if one were to arrive in the region. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the top health officials in the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia have said the risk of Ebola spreading widely in the United States is low.

Enhanced Screening at Dulles International Airport to Begin on Thursday, Oct. 16

Travelers from the Ebola-affected countries entering the U.S. through Dulles International Airport and four other U.S. airports (New York’s JFK, Newark, Chicago-O’Hare and Atlanta international airports) will receive enhanced entry screening. Screening begins at Dulles tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 16. This screening means that travelers from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone will:

  • Receive information about Ebola, its symptoms, what to do if symptoms develop and information for doctors if travelers need medical attention.
  • Be asked to answer questions to determine their risk of infection, have their temperatures taken and be observed for other symptoms of Ebola.
  • If symptoms exist, be referred to CDC officials on site for further evaluation.

As a result of this process, CDC officials at the airport will determine whether a traveler:

  • Can continue to travel.
  • Should be taken to a hospital for evaluation, testing and treatment.
  • Is referred to a local health department for further monitoring and support.

This enhanced screening of those entering the U.S. from the affected countries in West Africa will support the surveillance and monitoring already in place throughout the region at hospital emergency rooms and other health facilities.

The Ebola virus is transmitted through close contact with an infected patient’s blood or bodily fluids.  For more detailed information about the disease, visit the CDC website,, and review the Frequently Asked Questions about Ebola on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments website.

facts about ebola (CDC)

Great Southeast ShakeOut Earthquake Drill is Two Weeks Away; Are You Registered Yet?

Great Southeast ShakeOut Oct 16, 2014

Posted at 1 p.m.

Wherever you are two weeks from now (home, school, work or play) – on Thursday, Oct. 16 – you can learn about earthquake safety by joining in the Great Southeast ShakeOut, a multi-state earthquake drill set for 10:16 a.m. Register now to participate in the ShakeOut and learn how to 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. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, drop to the ground in an inside corner of the building, and cover your head and neck with your hands and arms. Do not try to run to another room to get under a table.

Also, during an earthquake, don’t run outside. Trying to run is dangerous because the ground is moving and you can easily fall or be injured by falling bricks, glass and other building materials. You are much safer to stay inside and get under a table.

If you can’t participate Oct. 16, hold an earthquake drill for your family, workplace, organization or school anytime through Dec. 31, and you can still register your participation in the ShakeOut.

Last year more than one million Virginians took part in the Great Southeast ShakeOut. Learn more and sign up for the Oct. 16 earthquake drill at or



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