This biweekly column is sponsored by the Arlington Office of Emergency Management.
The start of many people’s morning routines includes checking their phone or listening to the weather report: Is it going to rain today? How warm will it get later? Do I need my umbrella today, or my sunglasses? We may not think of weather as something consequential here, but the weather has caused most of the disasters in the United States.
Did you know that:
- 98 percent of all presidentially declared disasters are weather-related
- Weather-related disasters lead to around 500 deaths annually nationwide
- Severe weather causes at least $10 billion in damages in the US every year
These are just a few reasons why the National Weather Service has created the StormReady program.
What is StormReady?
In order to be considered StormReady, a community must:
- Establish an emergency operations center and 24-hour emergency communications center
- Have multiple ways to receive and alert severe weather warnings to the public
- Create a system that monitors weather conditions locally
- Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars
- Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises
Arlington County is StormReady
The Arlington County Office of Emergency Management, in collaboration with Arlington Public Schools, has successfully satisfied all of the requirements necessary to be recognized as a StormReady community by the National Weather Service for the third time. The County has done its part to become StormReady. Have you done your part?
What can I do to be StormReady?
- Get a Kit
Arlington County has around 220,000 residents and only around 320 uniformed employees in its Fire Department. If severe weather hits Arlington and impacts a large portion of the county at once, it would be impossible for first responders to immediately help everyone in need. A good saying to remember is: “The first 72 are on you.” In the event of a large-scale emergency, there is no guarantee that first responders will be able to help you within the first 72 hours.
Every member of your household should make an emergency kit with at least three days’ worth of food, water, prescriptions, and additional supplies stored and ready to go. Keep in mind that you might not have electricity or gas to prepare food, so choose non-perishable, easy to prepare food.
- Make a Plan
Keep written contact information with you at all times in case of emergency. Have plans on how to contact each other if cell phone service goes down. What will you and your family do if you can’t reach each other during an emergency? Have predesignated meeting areas both in and out of your neighborhood- in case you can’t return to your home.
- Stay Informed
During an emergency, remaining situationally aware is key. Have a NOAA Weather Radio to keep informed of weather threats, listen to TV and radio for instructions and information. Make sure these radios have batteries, and keep spares in your emergency kit.
Stay informed of emergencies by signing up for Arlington Alerts, the County’s notification system that will alert you of emergencies, severe weather and traffic, and other important information via phone, text, email and/or fax.
Talk, prepare, and plan for potential situations now, so you are not scrambling later. Do your part to become StormReady. To learn more about making preparing for emergencies, visit ReadyVirginia.