As the emergency management community recovers from the recent false alert sent by Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency- here’s what your local emergency managers are doing to ensure the effectiveness of Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) across Fairfax County.
A message from the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management:
In order for the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management to send a WEA message to Fairfax County residents, one of our trained Duty Officers must initiate the message by manually entering two separate randomized passwords. The platform used to distribute WEA messages clearly states to the Duty Officer that the message is going to be delivered over the live system and requires the Duty Officer to acknowledge. Further, the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management has partnered with the City of Fairfax Emergency Management Agency to conduct refresher training and testing with FEMA on the use of WEA messaging. While we have taken further steps to ensure a false alert to Fairfax County residents will not occur, our office stands ready to utilize the WEA system in the event it is needed.
So what are WEA messages?
This system provides federal, state and local officials with the ability to send text based wireless emergency alerts (WEAs) to most mobile phone users in a specific location throughout the United States during an emergency.
Are WEA messages different from local alerts?
Yes. WEA messages are sent through your WEA-capable mobile device. Local alerts are managed by the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management and you can receive those messages by signing up for this FREE system: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts
Is my mobile device WEA-capable?
Many of the major wireless providers carry WEA-capable devices. Check with your wireless provider to confirm WEAs are available in your area and your devices is capable of receiving WEAs.
What should I do when I receive a WEA message?
Follow any action advised by the message. If needed, seek more details from local media or Fairfax Alerts.
There are three types of WEA warnings:
- Presidential Alerts: Issued by the president in the event of a nationwide emergency.
- Imminent Danger Alerts: Issued about civil danger, civil emergency message, evacuation, hazardous materials warning, local area emergency, radiological hazard warning,
shelter in place, etc.
- Amber Alerts: Issued about the disappearance of minors.
So what to do in case of a radiation emergency:
Rule of thumb: If you are safe where you are, stay where you are!
If you are indoors during a radiation emergency: Stay inside. Close and lock all windows and doors. Go to the basement or the middle of the building. Radioactive material settles on the outside of buildings; so the best thing to do is stay as far away from the walls and roof of the building as you can.
If possible, turn off fans, air conditioners, and forced-air heating units that bring air in from the outside. Close fireplace dampers.
If you are outside during a radiation emergency: Get inside a building right away. If you can get to a brick or concrete multi-story building or basement within a few minutes, go there. Carefully remove your outer layer of clothing before entering the building, if you can. Radioactive material can settle on your clothing and your body, like dust or mud. Once inside, wash the parts of your body that were uncovered when you were outside. Then put on clean clothing, if you can. This will help limit your radiation exposure and keep radioactive material from spreading.
- Fairfax County Emergency Management Website: fairfaxcounty.gov/emergencymanagement
- Fairfax Alerts: Fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts
- Twitter and Facebook: @fairfaxcounty