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Pledge to Prepare for National Preparedness Month Archived Discussion Room

Fairfax County, Virginia

Pledge to Prepare for National Preparedness Month

Fairfax County has experienced a variety of unexpected emergencies during the past 12 months – an earthquake, hurricane, tropical storm, tornado and a derecho storm all affected the area. September is National Preparedness month, which is the perfect time to prepare yourself, your family and your workplace. The Office of Emergency Management will be available to answer questions online about recent emergencies and to share best practices for emergency preparedness on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 10 a.m.

Marcelo Ferreira : Welcome to the National Preparedness Month's Ask Fairfax! Chat. This is a great time to prepare for an emergency!  I'll be here to answer your questions about local hazards and steps you can take to prepare for all-hazards. Thanks for joining!

Anonymous User : Is it safe to store tap water in plastic jugs, e.g., used juice contaiiners that have been cleaned? If so, for how long can the water be retainied safely? If not, what type of containers are recommended and for how long can tap water be stored in them?

Marcelo Ferreira : It is not recommended to store water in used plastic jugs.  FEMA recommends that commercially bottled water be purchased since it is the safest and most reliable emergency water supply. If you are using your own container, purchasing food grade water storage containers are recommended. For more specific information about water storage, visit

Anonymous User : What if one lives in a condo where items such as generaters are not allowed. What do you recommend to stay warm in an winter emergency? Are there battery operated heaters? Cans of Sterno? Thank you.

Marcelo Ferreira : Having an emergency kit with plenty of blankets and warm clothing is the best option for staying warm in the winter.  Emergency kits should be kept at home, at work, and in your vehicle to be assured that you are prepared in any circumstance.  Heat reflective emergency blankets are an inexpensive and effective option for your emergency kit. Due to the risk of fire, we do not recommend heating sources with open flames. For additional information, visit

ellen : What types of back up power does the county have to keep water available when there is a power outtage? What percent of the time or how often have the water pumps been without power after a storm? Should everyone make a jug of clean water to drink when a storm is approaching? Should we put a few inches of water in the tub for flushing the toilets? If people are on a forced main, is there back up power to the pumps?

Marcelo Ferreira : It is always a good idea to have a stock of clean drinking water that will last you and your family three to five days.  Each individual (and pet) needs an average of one gallon of water per day, which means that you should have at least three gallons of water per person. As a result of Hurricane Isabel in 2003, Fairfax Water upgraded the power feed to its largest plant by burying it underground and its other plant is now fed from the national grid.  In both cases, power has been uninterrupted. They also added generators to key pumping stations to provide power.  Fairfax County is serviced by multiple water authorities, for specific information about your water service, contact your water provider.

Anonymous User : I've heard a lot on the news lately about having an emergency supply kit. What should be in the kit besides a flashlight?

Marcelo Ferreira : Emergency Preparedness Kits are important to have at home, work and in your vehicle. Along with a flashlight, supplies should include water (one gallon per person per day), non-perishable food items, cash, first aid kit, medications, and other items that you will need to survive and feel comfortable after an emergency. For a list of items to include in your emergency kit, visit  

Paul Thorpe : Dear Sir, How would i seek out an available shelter, in the event of an emergency? This past storm and tornado warning was cause for concern.

Marcelo Ferreira : In the event of a tornado warning, it is important to seek shelter immediately until the warning has subsided. This location should be in an interior room that has few or no windows and is on the lowest-level floor. If you're not already registered, sign-up for weather alerts through CEAN (link below).

After a large-scale emergency, Fairfax County has pre-identified emergency shelters that may be opened if needed. This information will be publicized to residents through the Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN) at; the Fairfax County Emergency Blog; Fairfax County social media tools (Facebook and Twitter) and recorded messages on the Emergency Information Hotline.

Anonymous User : What plans do you have in place should an evacuation be necessary? With the sheer population in the National Capitol Region and the demonstrated failure during "Snowmageddon", it will most certainly be an issue in the future.

Marcelo Ferreira : There are evacuation plans in place for Fairfax County, Northern Virginia and the National Capital Region. Residents need to sign-up now to receive emergency alerts in order to stay informed, including evacuation routes or other protective measures that should be taken. Also, make sure that you have a hard-copy map of the local area with pre-identified routes and alternative routes. Another important tip is to always keep at least a quarter tank of gas in your vehicle.

Due to the number of residents and commuters in the region, the most likely advice will be to shelter-in-place and stay where you are. This will minimize congestion on area roads, allowing first responders and public safety officials to address the immediate hazards. Staying where you are is safer than going into a potentially hazardous situation.

Anonymous User : What's the best advice for somebody when they lose power? During the storm in June my power was out for 3 days and I had limited phone and internet service.

Marcelo Ferreira : The first step after losing power should be to contact your power company.  This can be done by phone (landline or cell) or via an Internet submission, which can be done though a smartphone.

Protecting you and your family is your major concern -- having an emergency kit in place will help you with the basic necessities. Options include staying with family or friends and checking into an area hotel until power is restored.

During the Derecho storm in June, many residents suffered power and phone disruptions.  Taking as many steps to prepare before an event, such as putting a cellphone charger in your car and downloading apps to your smartphone (like the Fairfax County app), can help minimize the effects of an emergency.

Marcelo Ferreira : Thank you for your participation in this Ask Fairfax! chat on emergency preparedness. I encourage you during September, National Preparedness Month, to make a committment to better prepare you and your family in case an emergency were to affect your neighborhood or work.

Take these three simple steps;
-Make a Kit
-Make a Plan
-Stay Informed

Be sure to follow the "Fairfax Prepares: 30 ways in 30 days" campaign at for easy actionable items. Also sign up for the "Emergency Preparedness" newsletter ( for monthly news and information.

The Office of Emergency Management delivers emergency preparedness presentations to homeowners associations, civic groups, businesses, and other entities.  Contact us at for more information.