County Emergency Management Encourages Residents to Learn More About Tornadoes


Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935, FAX 703-324-2010

March 4, 2005


County Emergency Management Encourages Residents to Learn More About Tornadoes and Tornado Preparedness

The Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management encourages county residents, business owners, schools, nonprofit organizations, homeowners associations and others to participate in Virginia’s Tornado Preparedness Day on Tuesday, March 15. As part of the awareness day, a statewide tornado drill will be held at 9:45 a.m. that will allow an opportunity to practice tornado safety plans. At the same time, the National Weather Service along with state and local emergency officials test their public warning systems.

“Last year there were 86 tornadoes in Virginia,” said C. Douglas Bass, coordinator of Emergency Management. “One of those tornadoes struck in Fairfax County and damaged approximately 70 properties in the Pleasant Valley and Country Club Manor neighborhoods. We hope our residents will participate in the tornado drill on March 15, but if they can't, we encourage everyone to become more familiar with tornadoes, their warning signs and specific steps that can be taken to ensure personal safety.”

The Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management offers residents these tornado safety suggestions:

  • “Go low and stay low,” which means to go to the lowest level of a structure away from windows and crouch in a low position with your head covered.
  • Mobile homes and cars are extremely unsafe during a tornado. Take cover inside a nearby sturdy building. If that’s not possible, lie down in a ditch away from your mobile home or car and cover your head with your hands.
  • Know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A watch means current weather conditions may result in a tornado. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted. When a tornado warning is issued for your area, take cover immediately.
  • The majority of tornadoes occur between 3 and 9 p.m. Think of where you would normally be during that time – at school, at work or in the car. You may only have a few seconds to react. Decide now where you would go if a tornado warning was issued.
  • Tornadoes can also occur with little or no advance warning. It’s important to have a weather radio nearby so you can listen for tornado watches and warnings. If the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning for your area, your weather radio will sound an alert, indicating you need to move to a safe area immediately.
  • Most of the tornadoes in Virginia last year occurred in August and September and were associated with the remnants of Hurricanes Gaston, Ivan and Jeanne. However, tornadoes can occur any time of the year and often strike with little or no advance warning.

The Office of Emergency Management also encourages residents to sign up for the Community Emergency Alert Network, or CEAN. The CEAN will be used by county officials to deliver important emergency alerts, notifications and updates to county residents during a major crisis or emergency. Messages will be delivered to e-mail accounts, cell phones, text pagers, satellite phones and wireless PDAs registered on the system. In addition, residents may also register for any or all of the additional CEAN alert categories including severe weather 24/7 and severe weather 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday, both of which would include alerts for tornado watches and warnings. To register, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/cean.

For more information about tornado preparedness, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency or call the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management at 703-324-2362, TTY 711. Additional information is available on the Virginia Department of Emergency Management Web site at www.vaemergency.com/05torn.

FAIRFAX COUNTY IS COMMITTED TO A POLICY OF NONDISCRIMINATION IN ALL COUNTY PROGRAMS, SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES AND WILL PROVIDE REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS UPON REQUEST. TO REQUEST SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS, CALL 703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935. PLEASE ALLOW FIVE WORKING DAYS IN ADVANCE OF EVENTS IN ORDER TO MAKE THE NECESSARY ARRANGEMENTS.

 


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