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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 in the past few years – 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. Bruce McFarlane and Whitney Kazragis from the Office of Emergency Management will be available to answer questions about recent emergencies and to share best practices for emergency preparedness on Wednesday, Sept. 17 at 11 a.m.

Whitney Kazragis : Good morning - thank you for joining the Office of Emergency Management for this live chat in honor of National Preparedness Month. One of our focal messages this month is encouraging all county residents to sign up for the new emergency alerting system: Fairfax Alerts. We're excited to take your questions now!

Anonymous User : What emergency or other procedures are in place to deal with potential pandemics, such as ebola?

Whitney Kazragis : The county is in constant communication with medical providers, the Northern Virginia Hospital Alliance (NVHA), the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It also has plans in place via the county Health Department Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP). These groups will provide coordinated communication to the public regarding any pandemic situation as necessary.

Whitney Kazragis : History has shown that an effective public response to a pandemic situation is social distancing. This includes staying away from public events, public transportation, keeping kids home from school and could possibly include telework options. It is a good idea to learn your organization's telework policy ahead of time in the event there is a pandemic. Learn more about the county Health Department here:

Anonymous User : I live in a small apartment. I always find it interesting that your advice is to fill large tubs with supplies. I can't move large tubs by myself. Plus, money is sometimes an issue, so the advice of get supplies and more supplies is not always practical.

Whitney Kazragis : Thanks for your question! Tubs are not the only option for storage. A backpack (or even a rolling backpack), small rolling cart or suitcase with wheels are other great options for storing emergency supplies. Emergency preparedness does not have to be expensive - many supplies can be found around your apartment or home. These items include extra toiletries, canned food items, hand can opener, blanket, first aid items, pet supplies, plastic bags, towel, flashlight and batteries, etc. If you need to purchase extra items for your kit, plan to purchase a couple new items each month until your kits are fully assembled.

Anonymous User : What would happen in a large scale event that requires many school evacuations?

Whitney Kazragis : All Fairfax County Public Schools have emergency plans which include plans for shelter-in-place or evacuation. Check with your child's school to learn more about that plan. In a large-scale event, the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management would activate the Emergency Operations Center and work closely with FCPS to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff. Make sure your whole family is signed up for Fairfax Alerts to be notified in the event of an emergency. Learn more at

Anonymous User : What is the best way to store water in case of emergency? How often do I need to replace it?

Whitney Kazragis : It is recommended to store one gallon of water per person per day. So, to be prepared to shelter-in-place for the recommended 72 hours, a family of four needs a minimum of 12 gallons of water. Don't forget to include water for your pets!

We recommend purchasing water and storing it in its original container in a cool, dry place. Bottled water typically has a sell-by or use-by date. Make sure to read those labels! An easy way to remember to rotate your emergency water supply (and food!) is to "spring forward, fall back" -- in other words, when you change your clocks and the batteries in your smoke detectors, rotate your water and food supply.

It's also a great idea to have some water that you rotate in your car and at work. You never know where and when an emergency will occur!

Whitney Kazragis : If you don't currently have an emergency plan for you and your family, head to to start making your plan. It will provide you with an emergency plan template that you can save, print or email to trusted family members. You can also add it to the emergency kits you have in your home, work and vehicle.

Whitney Kazragis : Thanks for joining us today! The Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management encourages you to "be your own hero" during September's National Preparedness Month and throughout the year. Having emergency kits, an emergency plan and signing up for Fairfax Alerts goes a long way toward being prepared for any emergency. If you would like additional information, check out If you would like a presentation for your civic group, homeowner's association, business, scout troop, house of worship and more, please contact the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management at 571-350-1000 (TTY 711) or email Happy National Preparedness Month!