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by ARLnow.com September 6, 2017 at 8:55 am 0

September Is National Preparedness Month — Arlington is marking National Preparedness month by reminding residents to sign up for emergency alerts, create an emergency plan and maintain disaster supplies. [Arlington County]

Crash on Columbia Pike — A car veered off the side of Columbia Pike and knocked a light pole over on the sidewalk in front of Lost Dog Cafe. No serious injuries were reported. The aftermath of the crash was caught on video. [Facebook]

Wreck Closes Northbound GW Parkway — Northbound traffic on the GW Parkway was diverted onto Spout Run Parkway for part of the AM rush hour due to a crash this morning near the overlooks. [Washington Post]

Rainy Day Today — Arlington can expect 0.5-1″ of rain throughout the day today as a cold front passes through. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Chris Guyton

by Katie Pyzyk August 28, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

One of Arlington County’s safety departments has undergone a staff-led rebranding effort, complete with a new name and a new look.

As of July 1, emergency management employees and those in the county’s Emergency Communications Center work in the Department of Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management. Department staff voted for the name from several suggestions.

“While we do not often change the name of our departments, and not all departments have logos, in the past 15 years some have had name changes,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. Two examples are the current Department of Environmental Services and the Department of Parks and Recreation, which both underwent reorganizations.

At the heart of the Office of Emergency Management’s rebranding is an effort to be more inclusive of the entire department’s staff. The two initially had been separate divisions — OEM fell under the fire department and ECC under the police department — but they merged into the same department in 2004. Still, they kept their separate functions: Emergency management staff plan public preparedness campaigns and hazard and crisis mitigation, while communications staff run the 911 call center and dispatch first responders to the public.

The name, however, technically only covered the emergency management section, not the communications staff. Department director Jack Brown sought out a new name that more accurately represents both functions.

“The mission sets are a bit different, but bringing them together under one department makes a lot of sense,” said Brown. “The previous name only reflected part of the mission. We are on the same team, and our name now reflects that.”

Schwartz confirmed that these types of name changes should benefit both the county staff and the public. “Our goal is to ensure that each department’s mission and purpose is clear, both internally and publicly… We believe the new name makes the work of this critical team clear to all,” he said.

Instead of hiring an independent consultant for the rebranding, the project was fueled entirely by ECC and OEM staff, including the logo design. The logo incorporates elements representing various aspects of the department’s safety missions. For example, the radio tower represents communications, and the lightning and rain drops represent preparedness for weather events. The individual parts are encompassed within a pentagon shape.

“Our set of missions are within that pentagon. It’s a symbol, it reminds us why we’re here,” Brown said. “We’re here not just because of the Pentagon and 9/11. We’re here because really bad things happen and we want to prevent them from happening. If they do happen, we’re here to help the public get through it.”

That being said, Brown adds: “But these symbols are nothing without our people and their character. Our brand is our professionalism, our work ethic and our mutual commitment to public safety. I think these changes reflect that and I’m proud of this department and its future.”

(more…)

by Chris Teale July 18, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Arlington County will receive more than $1 million in federal grant money to prepare for future terrorist attacks, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced last week.

Arlington, home to the Pentagon and other key government and military offices, will receive just over $1.2 million from the Program to Prepare Communities for Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attacks grant program, administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A total of $35.9 million was allocated nationwide, of which Virginia received $3.8 million.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management will receive just over $2 million, and the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority will receive just over $595,000. MWAA is responsible for managing Reagan National Airport in the county as well as Dulles International Airport and the Dulles Toll Road.

VDEM will administer the money and coordinate a project to help enhance security and building safety to prepare for, prevent and respond to terrorist attacks. The agency will conduct an analysis alongside local and regional partners like Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management and its police and fire departments, to determine gaps in preparedness. Local first responders then will receive customized training to fill the gaps.

“Given our strategic location as a part of the national capital region, and our wide array of assets, including military infrastructure, we are at risk of experiencing these types of attacks and incidents,” said Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in a statement. “FEMA clearly recognized that risk and has awarded Virginia nearly 10 percent of the total funding allocated nationwide to develop programs and capabilities that will enhance public safety across the Commonwealth.”

Spokespeople for Arlington’s police and fire departments had no further details at this stage on how the money will be spent.

by Brooke Giles June 20, 2017 at 5:30 pm 0

Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management will host its new HERricane camp at Washington-Lee High School next week, with the goal of inspiring “the next generation of firefighters, meteorologists, epidemiologists and county managers.”

Lauren Stienstra, senior manager at OEM, said she was inspired to hold a camp after she and a co-worker had a hard time naming women in emergency management for Women’s History Month. Young women in particular often account for only a small percentage of emergency management professionals.

“We started to think about a summer camp to be a way to bridge the gap, to help girls to consider fields in emergency management and allied fields,” said Stienstra.

The week-long camp from June 26-30 will give participants hands-on training with firefighting equipment and CPR. Other activities include preparing meals from emergency kits and a scavenger hunt. Registration is closed, with the camp filling up after just two weeks.

In addition to the exercises at camp, the young women involved will be able to find long term professional development opportunities. Guest instructors from the Red Cross, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Urban Alliance and the Arlington chapter of Awesome Women Entrepreneurs will all participate.

Stienstra said it makes sense for such a camp to take place in Arlington, as the county was the first to have a woman work as a professional firefighter in the 1970s.

“[Arlington County] was on the front line of integrating gender equality for that field,” Stienstra said.

by ARLnow.com January 20, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

US Capitol prior to inauguration ceremony (Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin)

Reminder: Inauguration Closures Today — Many Arlington County facilities are closed today, Inauguration Day, and parking meters are not being enforced. Traffic is light around Arlington but drivers should expect closures and delays approaching the District. [ARLnow]

Arlington EOC Open — Arlington’s Emergency Operations Center is open and fully functional today for the inauguration. [Twitter]

Two Local Neighborhoods Among D.C.’s Hottest — Arlington Heights, between Columbia Pike and Route 50, and Yorktown in north Arlington, are No. 2 and 3 respectively on real estate firm Redfin’s list of the hottest Washington, D.C. area neighborhoods for 2017. [Redfin]

Schlow May Open Arlington Restaurant — Restaurateur Michael Schlow, the man behind Tico and The Riggsby in D.C., is “close to a deal” to open a new restaurant in Arlington. [Washington Business Journal]

School Bus Accident — There was a minor collision between two school buses at Randolph Elementary yesterday afternoon. According to initial reports more than a dozen students were evaluated by medics, but ultimately no injuries reported. [Twitter]

Schmuhl Sentenced for Home Invasion — Former lawyer Alecia Schmuhl was sentenced to 45 years in prison for her role in the home invasion attack on her former boss and his wife. Leo Fisher, a shareholder in Arlington law firm Bean, Kinney & Korman, was held captive by Schmuhl’s husband, who shot, stabbed and tased the couple during a three hour torture session. [NBC Washington]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

by ARLnow.com Sponsor November 25, 2016 at 12:00 pm 0

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This biweekly column is written and sponsored by the Arlington Office of Emergency Management.

What says “I care” more than fun gadgets and games that’ll help loved ones during an emergency?! Just in time for the kick-off of holiday shopping, we put together a list of some of our favorite preparedness items everyone on your holiday shopping list will appreciate!

For the Outdoor Enthusiast: Many preparedness items can serve double-duty for the outdoor enthusiast, and you don’t have to drop a lot of dough to get some quality items. Consider:Ready Arlington cell phone charger

  • Water filtration system: From tablets to personal filtration straws, there’s a huge variety to fit the needs of the hiker in your life.
  • Camp stove: These small, packable stoves can be either alcohol, or wood burning (or a combination of both). Just remember to always use them outside!
  • Multi Tool: With combinations of every tool but the kitchen sink, multi tools can help you saw down small trees, tighten screws, cut up your meals and open bottles.
  • Lights: From headlights to lanterns, your outdoor enthusiast will appreciate more (lights have a habit of walking away). Look for fun lights that are hands free and can be used hiking, camping or in the house when the power’s out!

For the Gadget Geek: Searching for an item for the techie in your life? Try one of these gift ideas:Ready Arlington radio

  • Emergency phone charger: Today’s selection in phone chargers is huge. From a quick “pocket juice” to solar chargers, chargers are varied and priced for everyone.
  • Encrypted thumb drive: Encryption allows the safe storage of personal information that your tech-savvy friend will appreciate.
  • Weather radio: The weather radio deserves some new attention. With features like hand-crank and self-power, combined with Bluetooth technology, flashlights and solar charging, weather radios could be a surprise hit!

For the Commuter: Traffic and Metro delays. Rainy and snowy walk/bicycle commutes. Looking for a unique gift to ease the pain of commuting? Check out these fantastic preparedness items!

  • Hand warmers: The walker, biker or driver will appreciate these on a cold day. Perfect for the car emergency kit, they’re light and easy to pack into a commuting bag, purse or backpack.Ready Arlington whistle
  • Whistle: While more manufactures have incorporated whistles into the straps of backpacks, these are always great items to have on hand in your car emergency kit, or as a pedestrian.
  • Emergency hammer: For the driver in your life, these allow users to break the windows of cars, even when submerged under water.
  • Dry sacks: Available in an array of sizes from wallet to duffle bag, dry sacks keep the contents completely dry inside, even when dumped in water (they float too!).

For the Novelist: Have an avid reader in your life? Consider a book that’ll help them survive in the event of a disaster. Some of our favorites include:

  • SAS Survival Handbook: A basic handbook on survival skills, including weather, building shelters, finding food, first aid and more.
  • The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes — and Why: Award-winning journalist Amanda Ripley traces the responses of people through multiple disasters, including the World Trade Center during 9/11 and the Air Florida Flight 90 that crashed into the Potomac River, to determine how and why humans behave during a disaster and how we can improve our chances for survival.

Looking for more preparedness gift ideas? Follow ReadyArlington on Facebook/Twitter. We’ll be posting our staff’s favorite preparedness gift ideas throughout the month of December!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor November 10, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

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This biweekly column is written and sponsored by the Arlington Office of Emergency Management.

A message with a cause

slide4This month, helping some of Arlington’s most important causes just got a lot easier. To kick off the “Season of Giving,” the Office of Emergency Management has launched a special “Subscribe and Serve” campaign. This month, when you register for Arlington Alert using the new “EZ” form, you can choose to support one of four local causes, and we’ll make a donation on your behalf. If you want to fight hunger, you can donate a can of food to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). If you’re interested in helping to end homelessness, you can direct a pair of socks to the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN). Are animals your thing (and in Arlington, we know they are)? Then a can of pet food for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA). Finally, if you’d like to help develop the next Picasso, you can donate art supplies to Arlington Public Schools (APS).

A stronger community = a more resilient communityAFAC Feeding our Neighbors in need

In emergency management, we know that it takes a “whole community” to truly make emergency preparedness work. AFAC, AWLA, A-SPAN and APS are some of our essential community partners for responding to and recovering from disasters. Let’s take a look at how their work creates a resilience for Arlington:

  • Arlington Food Assistance Center: Not only does AFAC assist in providing critical nutrition for thousands of people in Arlington, they are also excellent logisticians. They know how to acquire, process and distribute food to large numbers of aspanpeople — a critical skill for serving those who might be impacted by disaster.
  • Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network: The homeless population is one of the most vulnerable — both during and after an emergency. By ensuring that these people’s basic needs are met, A-SPAN helps ensure that they don’t need to consume additional resources during an incident.aps
  • Arlington Public Schools: Children are another vulnerable population, and APS helps ensure that they are supported in all aspects of their life. During emergencies, APS provides critical facilities — like gymnasiums and cafeterias — with generators in case we need to establish emergency shelters. Crayons are also an important part of an emergency kit for anyone with kids — easy, battery-free entertainment!animal_welfare_league_of_arlington_color_rgb
  • Animal Welfare League of Arlington: You’ve heard us harp on it before, but pet preparedness is an important part of individual preparedness. After Hurricane Katrina, we learned that 44% of people did not evacuate for the storm because they refused to leave the pets behind. AWLA provides important services like microchipping (which aids in pet-family reunification after a disaster), as well as affordable vaccinations (which are a requirement in most emergency pet shelters). AWLA is the County’s main partner for opening and operating these shelters.

arlignton-community-fcu-logoThese organizations are an important part of our community both before and after emergencies. Another important partner is the Arlington Community Federal Credit Union. They helped sponsor this campaign because they know how important partnership strengthens the community. Additionally, they provide financial services that are an essential part of emergency planning. Don’t forget to think about banking, lines of credit, and insurance as part of your own personal preparedness plan.

Strength through partnership

Overall, communities that are strong before a disaster are typically strong after a disaster. Government agencies, non-profit organizations, and businesses and the partnerships between them create the network that creates that strength. Don’t forget that individuals are part of this coalition too- and don’t forget to subscribe and serve!

 

by ARLnow.com Sponsor October 27, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

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This biweekly column is written and sponsored by the Arlington Office of Emergency Management.

How much notification is just right?

Hello? Are you out there?

If you’re like us, data makes you giddy. In the world of emergency management, it can feel like we’re sending messages out into Ready Arlington Alertthe world without ever knowing if they’re being reflected back like the hot summer sun off a tin roof or absorbed like a Harry Potter book. But add a little data, and “POOF!” we can start to see if we’re having an impact!

Getting information to those who live, work and play in Arlington before and during an emergency is critical. We use Arlington Alert to notify you of imminent threats, hazardous weather, traffic delays, government office closures and special events that may affect your life. But striking a balance between sending enough and too much information is a line our office walks on a daily basis.

This summer we teamed up with Virginia Tech’s Social and Decision Analytics Laboratory (SDAL) to learn more about how we’re reaching you and how we can we improve the alerting system.

Where are you, Arlington Alert Subscribers?

No surprises to us here — a majority of registered users are in the densest residential and commercial areas of the County. Ready Arlington EnrollmentInterestingly though, our highest pockets of users are in neighborhoods that have long term residents and experience little turnover.

At first glance, this doesn’t tell us much — we’d expect to see more users in areas where there are more people. Digging a little deeper, however, it shows success from the Run-Hide-Fight trainings and outreach we’ve conducted in these areas of the county.

We also saw where our lowest enrollments were, and for the past month we have targeted many outreach activities in those communities. As a result, we have been able to increase enrollment in neighborhoods with lower enrollment rates.

Finding our Message Champions

We know that every single person who works, plays and lives in Arlington will not register for Arlington Alert. In order to reach Ready Arlington Common Wordsthe greatest number of people, we need Message Champions: those who will promote Arlington Alert and share our messages with their networks to help get critical information into the community.

Using personality traits, professions and communities, a psychologist associated with the study helped to build a profile of people who would be our best Champions. She found that those who work in education, training, counseling, facility management, healthcare, restaurants, entertainment and sports management are most likely to share messages in an emergency (note to the professionals above: expect to hear from us about how you can help us share our message during an emergency!)

Can We Still Be Friends?

One too many messages, and we all know what happens: “STOP MESSAGE!” It’s a delicate balance of giving you the information you want and need, but not overloading you with too much.

The study found that a majority of un-enrollments followed road closure and “Final” messages sent to notify you that streets had been re-opened (note: you can select to which type of alerts you would like to receive, such as weather or emergency alerts, and eliminate traffic alerts if they don’t apply to you). From this, we’re taking a look at how and when we send messages to better communicate with you.

Making the Reach

So we’re asking for your feedback and help in our continued efforts to improve the system. Text “Arlington Alert” to 703-454-8608 to tell us how you’re using the system (or not using the system), and what we can do to improve it, or even volunteer to serve on a focus group!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor October 13, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

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This biweekly column is written and sponsored by the Arlington Office of Emergency Management.

Nearly half of US adults had their personal information hacked in 2014 — not including the 500 million recently revealed hacked Yahoo accounts. 2015 saw an even higher rate of personal data breaches. That means that it’s likely either you’ve been a victim yourself, or know someone who has.

Communication is a critical infrastructure in today’s world. And just by using your phone or computer, you make yourself vulnerable. Just as you need to be aware and prepare for natural emergencies, you should take steps to improve your cyber preparedness. Join us during Cyber Security Awareness Month to enhance your awareness and preparedness!

Protect Your Personal Information

Your personal information includes your email; online banking, Pay-Pal and e-commerce accounts (like Amazon or I-Tunes); and accounts with sensitive information like your social security number, address, phone, etc. You’ll be surprised how many there are!

  • S=Secure in the HTTPS. A website without an “S” at the end of the HTTP may not be secure. Avoid shopping or sharing any sensitive information in sites unless it is an HTTPS.
  • Read the fine print. Know what data an app can access before you download it. Read the privacy policy before you download, and pass on apps that want to access personal information.

It’s all about the update

85% of security hacks could be prevented by updates, according to the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US CERT).

  • Always Update Your System. Update your security software, web browser and operating systems regularly. Updates include patches for security breaches. Without them, your systems are left vulnerable to hackers.
  • Back it up. Back up your information regularly. If your device is hacked, you will still have your information.

readyarl-pwEnhance Your Password Protection

You’ve heard it before, but a strong password is one of your best defenses for your personal information. Yet 123456 remains the most popular password in the US (followed by Password).

  • Mix it up. Use a combination of letters, numbers and characters. Try a phrase, like “Ih8sh$pping!” for increased protection.
  • Don’t be green. When it comes to cyber security, never reuse or recycle passwords, no matter how inconvenient it may be. If one account becomes compromised, then all of your accounts are vulnerable. Consider using a password manager to keep track of your passwords.

Be WiFi wise

Anything you do while online via public or insecure networks can be accessed. Use these networks carefully.

  • Nix the auto-connect. Turn off the WiFi auto-connect and Bluetooth on your devices, and only connect when you need to. This will save your battery as well.
  • Safe at home. Shop, access your bank accounts and email from your own device, and only on a network you trust.

readyarl-clickbateDon’t be click-bait

Nearly one million new malware threats are released every day, and attacks are quick. It takes 82 seconds from the time of release to the first victim, according to Verizon. Keep your home, contacts and business safe by clicking cautiously.

  • Stranger Danger. If an email is unexpected or you don’t recognize the sender, don’t open it before verifying.
  • MiSpelled.com. Check URLs before opening. Hackers will often slightly misspell the URL of a legit website. Verify any URLs you’re unfamiliar with before opening.
  • If it it’s too good to be true… It probably is. Avoid amazing, free or urgent deals. The more urgent, the higher chance of infection. Be wary of links with shocking or fake celebrity news.

While you’re reviewing your accounts to update passwords, don’t forget to review your www.ArlingtonAlert.com account to make sure you receive emergency, traffic and weather alerts from Arlington County!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor September 15, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

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This biweekly column is written and sponsored by the Arlington Office of Emergency Management.

Less than 24 hours into his temporary assignment as the Emergency Management Coordinator, Captain Mark Penn watched one, then two planes fly into the World Trade Center.

Still unsure of his new role, he headed to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) planning to keep County Leadership informed of events. As he drove up Columbia Pike, he looked up to see Flight 77 pass overhead on its collision course into the Pentagon.

Pentagon on 9/11 (photo via Arlington OEM)A New Chapter in Emergency Management

Little did he know it as he opened the EOC that day, but Penn was starting a new chapter in emergency management for Arlington County. In 2001, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) hadn’t been formed. This wouldn’t be done until 2004, after extensive research by County Leadership. The Emergency Communication Center (9-1-1) was still part of the Police Department; it wouldn’t come under OEM management until 2004.

In 2001, emergency management was still one position in the fire department, primarily focused on preparing responders.

Emergency Management: Coordinating the Response Behind the Scenes

Pentagon on 9/11 (photo via Arlington OEM)While Public Safety personnel coordinated operations at the Pentagon, Penn’s initial hours, and next 21 days, were consumed in the EOC, supporting the responders.

Over 3,000 responders were working at the Pentagon, each requiring security clearance to do their job, as well as food, housing and communication with family members. Resources had to be requested and moved immediately cross-country, all while airspace was closed. A local emergency had to be declared.  The EOC worked behind-the-scenes to make sure the response went smoothly.

You Can’t See Us, But We’re Still Here!

Following 9/11, Penn’s “temporary” assignment was extended until 2004 as the Office of Emergency Management was developed. Today, OEM has grown from 1-84, including Emergency Management and Emergency Communication Center (9-1-1) staff.

And much of our work remains the same: behind-the-scenes support during a response.  During this winter’s “Snowzilla” our office opened the Emergency Operation Center and coordinated with public safety, health, transportation, finance and communication partners, as well as County Leadership and state and regional partners.

Moving Forward: A New Approach

Today, our focus on emergency preparedness includes all of Arlington County: both our response partners and residents. We continually plan and train with our partners to prepare for potential emergencies. Resident engagement and preparedness has also become a priority. The Active Shooter Awareness and Preparedness training program is an example of this.

Challenges still remain. As time fades from events like the 9/11 attacks, people become complacent.

However, September is National Preparedness Month, and the perfect time to get prepared! Complete item from below during September (or, be a Preparedness Champion and tackle one per month through December!).

  1. Register for ArlingtonAlert.com.
  2. Have at least 3 days of emergency supplies for your family at home.
  3. Develop a Family Communication Plan – try using ReadyNOVA.org‘s tool.
  4. Make a go-bag with essential items – for your home, car and work.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor September 1, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

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This biweekly column is written and sponsored by the Arlington Office of Emergency Management.

You and the Other 60% of America

The sky turns black. You hear the radio call out a tornado warning, and you spring into action. You’re family has conducted drills for this, so without a word from you, they all go to a safe room to ride out the storm. As you join your family, you smugly smile, knowing that you have all the food and supplies you need for your family for 72 hours.

No?

Less than 40% of Americans have developed an emergency plan and discussed it with their familyYou’re not alone. Although 80% of Americans live in a county that has experienced a weather-related emergency in the past 8 years, less than 40% have actually developed an emergency plan and discussed it with their family.

The burning question that remains is: “Why don’t people prepare for emergencies?”

I don’t have time

There are many reasons people don’t plan. When asked why, many people respond “I don’t have the time” or “It seems like a lot of work.” Preparing for an emergency can look overwhelming at first glance, but doesn’t have to be.

Use your resources: Online resources such as www.ReadyNOVA.org have fill-in-the-blank templates and quick reference guides to help you develop things like a family communication plan. You can then download and send it to all of your family members mobile devices (don’t forget to print a hard copy!)

Use your supplies instead of building a kit: Buying and storing an emergency kit can be expensive and take way too much space in many Arlington homes. Instead, take inventory of your family’s food & emergency supply needs, and then make sure you always have at least 3 days worth in your home. Remember, you may not have electricity, so make sure you are not counting on the food in your fridge or the use of your microwave or electric stove to cook!

Have a go-bag: Nothing is more stressful than having to leave your home quickly. Build a Go-Bag with essential items for your family in case you need to hit the road in a hurry.

Make it fun: Preparing doesn’t have to be all work! Challenge your kids to an Emergency Scavenger Hunt, square off against family members in a cook-Off as you rotate food out of your emergency supplies, use fire drills as a race for your children (so they can practice their evacuation route and also burn off that extra energy before bed.) It’s important to note that while students practice fire and other emergency drills multiple times a year at schools, adults have some catching up to do: 60% of adults have not participated in preparedness drills or exercises in the past year.

Disaster’s Won’t Happen to Me

Another reason people avoid developing emergency plans is the belief that “it won’t happen to me.” Emergencies don’t have to be large-scale catastrophes to have a big impact on your life. More than 50% of Americans have experienced an incident where they had to evacuate their home or live without utilities for more than three days- and some of the most common causes include simple things like broken water mains, downed power lines, and structural damage from trees. In fact, damage from frozen pipes, sewage backup and appliance issues actually causes more water damage to homes than weather events every year.

Tornadoes are rare, but not impossible in Arlington By definition,  emergencies are unpredictable. Certain hazards, such as tornadoes, may be unusual, but they still occur. In 1996 the Centerville Tornado almost caused a US Air Shuttle to crash during take-off at Reagan Airport. And in 2001 a F0-F1 tornado traveled 15 miles through Arlington and into Washington D.C., crossing the interstate three times during rush hour.

If A Disaster Happens, There’s Nothing I Can Do

While there are risks wherever you live, there are also steps you can take to lessen the impacts. On average, we save $4 for every $1 spent on

Less than 40% of residents living along the coast of NJ understood that their greatest risk during Superstorm Sandy came from water, not wind.Know Your Risks: Understand your risks, and protect yourself against them. Fewer than 40% of residents living within a block of the NJ coastline understood that the real threat from Hurricane Sandy was from water, or the storm surge that the hurricane would cause (over 60% believed the real danger was wind.) Only 54% had flood insurance.

Be Alerted: Register for ArlingtonAlert.com to receive emergency and weather alerts. Be sure to include the addresses of locations you live, work and spend time, so you’ll be notified if there’s an emergency in one of those locations.

Document It: Collect important documents, such as personal identification, property deeds, insurance policies, titles to vehicles, wills, etc., and store them in a safe place. Consider scanning them and placing the files on a flash drive. Following Hurricane Katrina, many residents of the Gulf Coast found themselves without even the most basic identification: identification, birth certificate and social security cards.

Set Your Meeting Spots: Determine where your family will meet and how you will reach one another after an emergency.

Join Us!

Every year, we dedicate a whole month to getting prepared (it’s September, which is why you’re reading this article now!) Join us as we celebrate and encourage people to get ready for the major disasters that could impact their lives. Test your preparedness knowledge, check your preparedness, tell your stories, and challenge your neighbors this month! For more National Preparedness Month details and a full schedule of events, check ReadyArlington.com, or follow #ARLPrep2016.

  • Tuesday, September 6, join us at the Sugar Shack Arlington to “Check Your Prep!” If you 3 out of 5 items completed on our preparedness checklist, you’ll earn at $5 Sugar Shack coupon!
  • Thursday, September 8, join us as the Emergency Preparedness Advisory Commission hosts a retrospective panel “9/11: Looking back and ahead”. Come hear how the County improved it’s preparedness after the events of that tragic day.
  • Be the most prepared Civic Association! Challenge your neighbors throughout September & register for Arlington Alert! The Civic Association with the highest number of registered Arlington Alert subscribers at the end of September will be deemed the Prepped Association with an annual plaque and ice cream social.

Sources:

by ARLnow.com July 21, 2016 at 10:15 am 0

A woman enjoys a cold drink in Clarendon during the heat advisory on Thursday July 14, 2016With temperatures soaring into the upper 90s this weekend, Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management is warning residents to take precautions to stay safe.

Officials say the “dangerous heat” could cause health problems for those who overexert themselves or don’t remain properly hydrated while outside.

From OEM:

With the extreme high temperatures this weekend and throughout the remainder of the summer, residents are asked to take extra precautions to stay safe, stay cool and to stay hydrated. Remember, all open county buildings are considered cooling stations.

General heat-related precautions:

  • Monitor local radio, TV and on-line services to receive critical weather updates
  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day. Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, community centers and shopping malls
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities if possible
  • Take frequent breaks if you must be outdoors
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat
  • Check on your pets frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat

During heat waves people are susceptible to three heat-related conditions; heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. All of these conditions can be serious if left untreated. Know the signs and seek immediate medical assistance should you find yourself experiencing any of these conditions.

Visit https://emergency.arlingtonva.us/hot-weather-tips-for-keeping-cool/ for additional emergency preparedness tips during times of extreme temperatures.

The Arlington County Office of Emergency Management wants you to be safe!

Photo by Jackie Friedman

by ARLnow.com July 12, 2016 at 3:40 pm 0

Pokemon Go being played in Courthouse (photo via @ReadyArlington)Arlington officials have some seemingly-obvious advice to players of the hot new smartphone game Pokemon Go.

First of all, says Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management, don’t walk into traffic while playing the game. Also, don’t try to play the game and drive at the same time.

Beyond that, OEM and the Arlington County Police Department have other practical advice for game players to remain safe:

“Always be aware of your surroundings. Play with other people, there’s safety in numbers. Tell people where you’re going, especially if it is somewhere you’ve never been. Parents should limit places kids can go. Be considerate of where Pokemon are displayed and don’t trespass on private property.”

Even some public property may be off-limits. There have been recent reports of people playing Pokemon at Arlington National Cemetery (see below).

Spokesman Stephen Smith said players are asked to refrain from playing on cemetery grounds.

“In respect for those interred at Arlington National Cemetery, we do request and require the highest level of decorum from our guests and visitors,” Smith told ARLnow.com. “Playing such a game on these hallowed grounds would not be deemed appropriate.”

Photo via @ReadyArlington

by Buzz McClain January 20, 2016 at 11:05 am 0

911Arlington County and the City of Falls Church residents are getting closer to being able to text emergency messages to dispatchers at the 911 call center in Arlington.

County staff members are being trained this week on the long-awaited “text-to-911” capability and the service is nearly ready to go, said Office of Emergency Management spokesman John Crawford. “The only thing we’re missing is an exact launch date,” he said.

The technology was unveiled in 2010 during a press conference with then-FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and county officials. Refining the technology and coordinating implementation with other regional emergency systems delayed the launch.

Callers to 911 will be able to text SMS messages if their mobile phone carrier and their data plans allow SMS texting. Older phones, particularly the “flip” phone variety, most likely will not work with the system. Photo and video transmission capability will be launched later.

Even after the texting option is available, OEM still prefers old-fashioned phone calls. “The motto we’re using is, Call if you can, text if you can’t,” said Crawford.

Texting in emergencies is useful for those who are deaf and hard of hearing, unable to speak in an emergency or in a situation where calling is unsafe, such as an “active shooter” scenario.

Fairfax County Emergency Services began the service last September.

by Jennifer Currier January 14, 2016 at 3:00 pm 0

Pawprints of Katrina (via Turner Publishing)The Arlington Public Library and Arlington Office of Emergency Management are combing their resources and missions for a book talk and information session on pet preparedness next month.

The session will be held at the Central Library at 1015 N. Quincy Street on Wednesday, Feb. 24 from 7-8:30 p.m.

It will involve both a book discussion focusing on the need for pet emergency preparedness across the country, as well as a talk about ways residents can train their pets in case of an emergency, such as unusual or extreme weather events.

The discussion will focus on Cathy Scott’s book “Pawprints of Katrina: Pets Saved and Lessons Learned.” It’s a journalistic account of the aftermath of the hurricane that hit Louisiana more than a decade ago, telling the stories of pets who were separated from their owners because of the storm. The book recounts the rescues of these pets as well as the reunions with their families.

After discussing the book and the issue, participants will receive safety advice and a free pet preparedness starter kit. The kit will include a collar strobe light, a collapsible food/water bowl and a waste bag dispenser.

Copies of the book will be available to borrow from the Central Library reference desk starting on Jan. 25.

Photo via Turner Publishing

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