Emergency Operations Plan Approved by Board of Supervisors

Posted at 10 a.m.

Emergency Operations Plan (PDF)The 2015 Emergency Operations Plan — or EOP — was approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, June 23. The approval fulfills Virginia’s requirement to prepare and keep a current EOP to respond to disasters or large-scale emergencies.

The county’s Emergency Operations Plan (PDF) is a multi-discipline, all-hazards plan that establishes the overall roles and responsibilities for emergency operations, as well as the concept of operations for the county. It is intended to be used in conjunction with established operational procedures, plans and protocols.

Dave McKernan, coordinator of emergency management, explains the purpose of the EOP.

 

The EOP is a result of the collective efforts of the county’s Office of Emergency Management, nearly 30 county departments and agencies with assigned emergency management roles and responsibilities, and the Towns of Clifton, Herndon and Vienna.

The plan establishes a framework for the management of major emergencies and disasters within the county. It is implemented when it becomes necessary to mobilize the resources identified within it in order to save lives, and protect property and infrastructure.

The EOP is not intended as a stand-alone document but rather establishes the basis for more detailed planning by individual departments and agencies.

For more on the Emergency Operations Plan, contact the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management at 571-350-1000.

Heat Advisory in Effect Today, Tuesday, June 23, from 1-7 p.m.

Posted at 10:30 a.m.

According to the National Weather Service, today, Tuesday, June 23, is expected to be the hottest day of the year (so far), with heat indices up to 105 degrees possible. And the weather service has issued a heat advisory, in effect from 1-7 p.m.

A heat advisory means that a period of high temperatures is expected. The combination of high temperatures and high humidity will create a situation in which heat illnesses for those without air conditioning or those outdoors for an extended period are possible.

Dave McKernan, coordinator of emergency management, encourages residents to find a cool spot inside to avoid the heat.

 

Our Health Department, Risk Management Division and the Office of Emergency Management offer the following tips to stay safe and cool:

  • Drink plenty of fluids: Drink two to four glasses of cool fluids each hour. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Keep cool indoors: If you can, stay in an air-conditioned area. Resting for just two hours in air conditioning can significantly reduce heat-related illnesses. Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as movie theaters, shopping malls and other community facilities. Several Fairfax County facilities also serve as cooling centers where you can go for respite from the heat. These include libraries and community centers, as well as the county Government Center.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but with temperatures in the 90s, fans do not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activities or reschedule them for the coolest part of the day, usually the early morning. Limit physical activity until your body adjusts to the heat.
  • Eat light meals.
  • Wear light-colored clothing, which helps reflect sunlight.
  • Wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn. Sunburn makes it more difficult for your body to cool off.
  • Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and window sills to keep the cool air inside. Also keep shades pulled down to keep extra heat out.

And please, never leave children or pets unattended in a car — not even for a few minutes. In addition, McKernan says that if you have elderly neighbors or people with special needs, take a few minutes and check on them to make sure they are okay.

 

Weather Forecast

Today: Showers and thunderstorms are likely, mainly after 4 p.m. Some storms could be severe, with hail and damaging winds. Partly sunny, with a high near 95. Heat index values as high as 102. Southwest wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Tonight: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly before midnight. Some storms could be severe, with hail and damaging winds. Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly clear, with a low around 70. Northwest wind 8 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

weather-forecast-june-23

Get more on staying safe in extreme heat and find the location of a nearby cooling center.

 

Thunderstorms and Lightning Safety

Posted at 11:50 a.m.

Summer is here, which means school is out, pools are open and baseball season is in full swing. Unfortunately, the summer months also bring higher possibilities for thunderstorms and other severe weather.

Although thunderstorms can occur any time of year, they are much more common during the summer, especially in the late afternoon hours. Besides just ruining your barbecue or golf outing, thunderstorms pose a real danger. In fact, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management reports that lightning kills over 60 people and injures over 400 more each year in the U.S. They can also develop very quickly — sometimes in less than 30 minutes — and with little warning, making it difficult to plan ahead and prepare.

when thunder roars go indoorsThe next time you see dark clouds rolling in over your picnic, party or day at the pool, remember these tips for staying safe during a summer storm.

  • Everyone knows to avoid open areas during a thunderstorm, but did you know that taking shelter under a tree is more dangerous? In Virginia, more deaths and injuries were reported from lightning strikes under trees than in open space from 1959-2000. When it’s raining hard our natural instinct is to find shelter, but unless you can get inside a building or car, you’d be better off in the rain than under a tree.

 

  • If you can hear thunder, you’re close enough to be struck by lightning. This means you need to take caution even if you feel like the storm has nearly passed, as lightning can still strike up to 15 miles from the center of the storm.

 

  • Contrary to popular belief, lying down in a thunderstorm is not a safe practice. The idea is that by getting as low as possible one might lessen their chances of being struck. In reality, by increasing the amount of the ground’s surface you are covering, you are actually much more likely to be struck.

 

  • Getting inside is a great first step, but be sure to avoid plumbing, like baths, sinks and faucets, and electrical equipment, like phones and computers, as well as windows, porches and concrete floors and walls.

 

  • In the event that someone is struck by lightning, medical attention will likely be needed immediately. Once medical assistance has been called try to move the victim to a safe place. Don’t worry about touching a victim of a lightning strike; they won’t hold a charge. There is a chance that the victim’s heart or breathing may have stopped as a result of the strike, in which case CPR or AED will be needed.

The warm, humid conditions of summer are a perfect recipe for thunderstorms. Keep these tips in mind for a fun, safe summer, no matter what Mother Nature has in store.

For more information on thunderstorm and lightning safety, visit our emergency information page or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s thunderstorm basics Web page or the National Weather Service lightning safety Web page.

Be Careful on Roads … Turn Around Don’t Drown

Posted at 9:30 p.m.

After heavy rain in Fairfax County, Richmond Highway in both directions is closed due to high water on the road. Other roads in the county also may be affected.

Do not drive through water on roadways and avoid small streams that may flood. Also, keep children away from creeks and streams.

Fairfax County remains under a flash flood warning this evening.

Sign up for Fairfax Alerts to stay in touch with weather watches and warnings.

Never Leave a Child in a Vehicle Unattended

Posted at 11:55 a.m.

Heatstroke is the number two killer of children behind car crashes. That’s why we’ve joined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to attempt to reduce these deaths by reminding you — especially parents and caregivers — about the dangers of heatstroke and leaving children in hot cars.

As outside temperatures rise, the risks of children dying from being left alone inside a hot vehicle also rises. According to safercar.gov, one child dies from heatstroke nearly every 10 days from being left in a hot vehicle. In 2014 there were at least 30 heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles. What is most tragic is that the majority of these deaths could have been prevented.

Please remember these three things:

  1. Never leave a child in a vehicle unattended.
  2. Make it a habit to look in the backseat every time you exit the car.
  3. Always lock the car and put the keys out of reach.

Don't Forget to Look Before You Lock

If you are a bystander and see a child unattended in a vehicle:

  • Always make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • If the child appears ok, you should attempt to locate the parents; or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over the public address system.
  • If there is someone with you, one person should actively search for the parent while someone waits at the car.
  • If the child is not responsive and appears in great distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child, even if that means breaking a window.

Never leave children unattended in vehiclesChildren’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than that of an adult, and heatstroke can occur in temperatures as low as 57 degrees. On an 80-degree day, a car can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.

Know the warning signs of heatstroke, which include:

  • Red, hot and moist or dry skin.
  • No sweating.
  • A strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse.
  • Nausea.
  • Confusion or acting strangely.

If a child exhibits any of these signs after being in a hot vehicle, cool the child rapidly by spraying them with cool water or with a garden hose — never an ice bath. Call 9-1-1 immediately.

According to safercar.gov, 59 percent of all vehicle-related heatstroke deaths in children are caused by a child accidentally being left in the car; 29 percent are from a child getting into a hot car on their own. Remember to “look before you lock.”Look before you lock

Heat Advisory in Effect Friday, June 12, Until 8 p.m.

Posted at 10:45 a.m.

A heat advisory is in effect from noon until 8 p.m. today, Friday, June 12. The National Weather Service issues a heat advisory when the heat index value is expected to reach 105 to 109 degrees within the next 12 to 24 hours.

As we start feeling the heat of summer — which doesn’t even officially begin until June 21 — remember these tips to stay cool and safe:

  • Slow down. Strenuous activities should be reduced, eliminated or rescheduled to the coolest time of the day. Individuals at risk should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
  • Dress for summer. Lightweight, light-colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight and helps your body maintain normal temperatures.
  • Foods (like proteins) that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.
  • Drink plenty of water or non-alcoholic fluids. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages.
  • Spend more time in air-conditioned places. Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces danger from the heat. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, spending some time each day (during hot weather) in an air conditioned environment affords some protection. Several Fairfax County buildings serve as cooling centers where you can get a respite from the heat.
  • Don’t get too much sun. Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation that much more difficult.

Don't Leave Kids or Pets in Cars

One of the most important things to remember … Never leave anyone, especially children and pets, in a closed, parked vehicle.

According to the National Weather Service, studies show that the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies have not developed the ability to efficiently regulate its internal temperature.

Get more on the weather forecast and sign up for severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts.

Hollywood Earthquakes versus Reality

Posted at 1:30 p.m.

It’s all over social media, and it did over $54 million at the box office in its opening weekend. What are we talking about? The movie “San Andreas,” which chronicles the potential destruction from a magnitude 9 earthquake and subsequent, even larger, aftershocks.

The great thing about the movie — and all of the Hollywood special effects — is that after the movie is over and the popcorn is eaten, you get to go home safe and sound. However, the reality is that an earthquake can very well be a devastating natural disaster.

Reality vs. Hollywood

Prior to the movies’ release, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake last month, followed by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake, rocked the country of Nepal, with casualties in the thousands and tens of thousands left homeless; over 8,000 people have been killed from these combined earthquakes.

You also may remember the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Mineral, Va., in August 2011. It caused significant structural damage from central Virginia to southern Maryland and the Washington D.C. area, to include Fairfax County. The quake, with hundreds of aftershocks, damaged more than 1,400 homes and businesses in Virginia.

Now’s a great time — while the topic is fresh on our minds — to remind ourselves of the proper steps to take during an earthquake: “Drop, Cover and Hold On!”

There are simple actions we all should do to get prepared to survive and recover. Visit www.earthquakecountry.org/sevensteps to learn more.

Learn More

2015 Hurricane Preparedness Week

Posted at 11 a.m.

It’s Hurricane Preparedness Week!

Now is a good time to plan how to protect your family during these powerful storms in advance of the Atlantic hurricane season, which begins on Monday, June 1. The “How to Prepare for a Hurricane” guide (PDF)  provides valuable information about planning for evacuation and shelter, and how to avoid flood waters and high winds during a hurricane.

Whitney Kazragis from our emergency management office also has some great advice on preparing — as well as how to save money on your preparedness supplies during the statewide hurricane preparedness sales tax holiday, underway now through Sunday, May 31.

Learn more online about the sales tax holiday, hurricane preparedness and being ready for any emergency.

Shop and Save During Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

Posted at 1 p.m.

The 2015 hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Though hurricanes don’t typically make landfall in Fairfax County, the effects of high winds and flooding can wreak havoc on our community and businesses.

To assist in preparing for hurricane season, Virginia will hold its Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness Equipment Sales Tax Holiday May 25-31.

During this time, items such as batteries, generators up to $1,000, chainsaws up to $340, smoke detectors, first-aid kits, flashlights and more will be tax-free. Check out the flyer below with details on items you can purchase — tax-free — or this list of tax-exempt items (PDF) from the Virginia Department of Taxation.

Hurricane Sales Tax Holiday 2015

The hurricane preparedness sales tax holiday is part of the statewide Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week, May 24-30, that coincides with National Hurricane Preparedness Week sponsored by the National Weather Service.

Learn more online or call our emergency management office at 571-350-1000, TTY 711 for more details on the sales tax holiday, hurricane preparedness or other emergency preparedness related topics.

Health Officials Investigating Confirmed Measles Case

Posted at 5:35 p.m.

The Fairfax County Health Department and the District of Columbia Department of Health are investigating a confirmed case of measles in an adult with recent history of international travel.

The individual has been discharged from Inova Fairfax Medical Campus and is no longer contagious. Prior to diagnosis, the individual visited multiple locations in both Washington, D.C. and Fairfax County.

Public health workers are engaged in a coordinated effort to identify those who were in direct contact with the person with measles and are making the appropriate notifications. Out of an abundance of caution, the health departments are also informing people who may have been exposed during the time period prior to the diagnosis when the person was contagious, between May 10 and May 16, 2015.

People who were at the locations listed below, at the times indicated, may have been exposed to the measles virus and should call the health department in that jurisdiction to determine their risk for measles.

In Fairfax County, a call center has been established to address concerns and answer questions about measles. Anyone concerned about exposures in Fairfax County are encouraged to call 703-267-3511 between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. today and between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, May 20 and May 21.

For concerns about exposures in Washington, D.C., people should contact the District of Columbia Department of Health at 202-420-0199.

Preventative treatment may be recommended for those who were exposed and are unvaccinated and at high risk (including pregnant women, infants under the age of 12 months, and people with severely compromised immune systems). Please call the health department in your jurisdiction as soon as possible to be assessed for exposure risk.

Measles is a highly contagious illness caused by a virus that is spread through coughing, sneezing and contact with secretions from the nose, mouth and throat of an infected individual. While few measles cases are reported in the United States, the disease is common in many parts of the world.

Symptoms of measles usually appear within 7 to 21 days after exposure and can include fever greater than 101 degrees, runny nose, watery red eyes and cough, followed by a blotchy rash that appears on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. The disease is most severe in infants and adults.

People who have received at least one dose of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in the past are at very low risk of being infected with measles. Measles is easily preventable through safe and effective MMR vaccine. All members of the community who have not been vaccinated are encouraged to do so to protect themselves and others.

Residents who were present at any of the locations listed above during the exposure times should review their family’s vaccination history and call their health care provider if they experience any symptoms of measles. Please call ahead before going to the doctor’s office or the emergency room and tell them that you may have been exposed to measles.

If you or a family member has not received the MMR vaccination and you were present at one of the locations listed below during the exposure time, then please call either the Fairfax County Health Department or the D.C. Department of Health at the phone numbers listed.

For more information on measles, visit the Fairfax County Health Department at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/hd, the District of Columbia Department of Health at www.doh.dc.gov or Virginia Department of Health at www.vdh.state.va.us.

Locations in Washington, D.C.:

Location Exposure Time Health Department to Call for Questions/Concerns
Embassy Suites
900 10th St., NW
Washington, D.C.
Sunday, May 10 through
Friday, May 15, All hours
District of Columbia Department of Health
202-420-0199
IFC Building
2121 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C.
Monday, May 11
7 a.m.-2 p.m.
District of Columbia Department of Health
202-420-0199

Locations in Fairfax County, Va.:

Location Exposure Time Health Department to Call
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
Emergency Department
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, Va.
Tuesday, May 12
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Fairfax County HD
703-267-3511
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
North Tower (Floors 6-11)
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, Va.
Friday, May 15 at 3:30 p.m. to Saturday,
May 16 at 3 p.m.
Fairfax County HD
703-267-3511
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
North Tower (Lobby)
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, Va.
Friday, May 15, 3:30 p.m.-7 p.m.
Saturday, May 16, 7 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
Fairfax County HD
703-267-3511
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
Women’s and Children’s Bldg.
(Ground Level & Basement)
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, Va.
Friday, May 15, 3:30 p.m.-7 p.m.
Saturday, May 16, 7 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
Fairfax County HD
703-267-3511
Woodburn Medical Park Building #2
3289 Woodburn Road
Annandale, Va.
Friday, May 15, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Fairfax County HD
703-267-3511
The Shelby Apartments,
6200 N. Kings Highway Alexandria, Va.
Sunday, May 10, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday, May 15, 3 p.m.-7 p.m.
Fairfax County HD
703-267-3511
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