It’s Not Too Late to Winterize Your Vehicle

Posted at 2 p.m.

Don’t hit the road without a jack or until your car is ready for winter weather. There are maintenance checks to keep you safe, your vehicle warm and your engine running — as well as specific emergency items to store in your car during the winter.

Check or have a mechanic check items, such as:

  • Antifreeze levels — ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
  • Battery and ignition system — should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
  • Exhaust system — check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
  • Heater and defroster — ensure they work properly.
  • Lights and flashing hazard lights — check for serviceability.
  • Windshield wiper equipment — repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
  • Install good winter tires — Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions.

You’ll also want to add winter items to the emergency kits in all your vehicles:

  • A shovel.
  • Windshield scraper and small broom.
  • Water.
  • Snack food.
  • Extra hats, socks and mittens.
  • Necessary medications.
  • Blanket(s).
  • Tow chain or rope.
  • Road salt and sand.

Learn more on how to make an emergency kit for your vehicle(s) in this short video from the county’s Office of Emergency Management.

Follow these tips and find more winter preparedness information at www.Ready.gov and at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/hazards/winter-storm-snow-cold.htm.

Reprinted from the Dec. 16 edition of FEMA’s “Individual and Community Preparedness” e-Brief email newsletter

Icy Road Conditions This Morning

Posted at 9:20 a.m.

As you and your family are waking up and looking to head out, please consider staying inside — and not out on the road — for a few extra hours to allow temperatures to rise and icy roadways to become more manageable.

The overnight rain/freezing rain and below freezing temperatures have caused numerous issues on county roads — and roads across the region. Multiple accidents have been reported.

The National Weather Service winter weather and freezing rain advisories have also been extended until noon today.

Don’t forget about icy sidewalks as well, so be careful as you take the dog(s) outside or to get the morning paper.

Some Fairfax Connector (@ffxconnector) bus routes/stops have been affected this morning. Even our Fire department (@ffxfirerescue) had a fire engine involved in a crash at Route 50 and I-66 East in the Fair Oaks area of the county this morning due to icy road conditions. The Police department (@fairfaxpolice) also has enacted its accident policy.

Get more on the forecast. And if you haven’t already signed up for Fairfax Alerts, do so here. Among the alerts you can receive on your cellphone and by email are customized weather alerts as well as severe traffic alerts.

Bottom line … stay off the roads until temperatures rise and ice melts. If you must be out, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) reminds you to slow down and allow plenty of extra time to reach your destination (PDF).

Winter Weather Advisory in Effect at Midnight Tonight

Posted at 11 a.m.

Winter Weather Advisory

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for snow, sleet and freezing rain from midnight tonight to noon tomorrow (Saturday). A winter weather advisory means that periods of snow, sleet or freezing rain will cause travel difficulties. Be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities, and if you must be out use caution while driving.

Accumulations of snow and sleet of less than 1 inch along with around a tenth of an inch of glaze ice are in the forecast. More on the winter weather can be found on the National Weather Service winter weather page.

The weather service is expecting snow and sleet will overspread the region after midnight tonight, then change to freezing rain before dawn tomorrow morning. The freezing rain will change to rain by noon on Saturday. Temperatures are expected in the mid to upper 20s later tonight, rising into the lower 30s tomorrow morning and above freezing tomorrow afternoon.

Weather forecast graphic for Dec. 16-19, 2016

With extreme cold and snow, sleet and freezing rain, the chance of getting frostbite or hypothermia increase dramatically. Check this blog article for more on frostbite and hypothermia, as well as additional information from the Fire and Rescue blog. Additional winter weather preparedness information also can be found on NewsCenter’s winter weather guide.

Extremely Cold Temperatures Are Here; Watch Out for Frostbite and Hypothermia

Posted at 6:50 a.m.

While the first “official” day of winter doesn’t start until next week — Dec. 21 with the winter solstice — the extremely cold winter temperatures are already here. Try and stay inside if you can, but if you must be out in the elements, remember to dress warmly.

dress warmly for winter weather

It’s going to be extremely cold today and for the next couple of days — in fact the coldest December temperatures in years. The National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts blustery temperatures with a high near 26° Fahrenheit today with a low tonight around 15°.

Friday it will be partly sunny with a high near 27°. Friday night’s forecast calls for a chance of snow before 1 a.m., then freezing rain and sleet likely, with a low around 25°. The chance of precipitation is 60 percent.

Weather forecast for Dec. 14-16, 2016

Frostbite and Hypothermia

According to the weather service, frostbite is damage to body tissue caused by extreme cold. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, earlobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately. If you must wait for help, slowly rewarm affected areas. However, if the person is also showing signs of hypothermia, warm the body core before the extremities.

Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops below 95°. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. Take your temperature and if it is below 95°, seek medical attention immediately.

Hypothermia Prevention Program for the Homeless

To help our vulnerable neighbors survive the winter, the county provides overnight shelter with a “no turn-away” policy at all emergency homeless shelters during freezing weather. Through the coldest months of the winter, we also provide the Hypothermia Prevention Program, a countywide community network of 45 overnight shelters. Through this program last winter, our nonprofit and faith-based community partners served almost 1,000 men and women with a safe, warm place to sleep.

hypothermia prevention

If you see someone at night who is unsheltered and you think could be at risk of hypothermia, call the county’s non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.