Jan. 15, 2020
Hello, and welcome to the Fairfax County Health and Safety Podcast. I’m your host Jim Person. Coming up, learn about some preparedness tips for the new year, the importance of smoke alarms, Wireless Emergency Alerts and Radon. Links to topics mentioned in this podcast can be found online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov.
Preparing for emergencies is not one-size-fits all! The reality is, everyone must be prepared to be their own “emergency manager” when disaster strikes. You may be on your own for three days, 72 hours, or more without access to power, food or transportation. Think about your situation and your needs. Here are some tips to consider:
- Be sure your emergency kit covers your everyday needs.
- Include your support network in your communications plan.
- If you need additional support, be sure to include others to ensure your needs are planned for in case of any emergency.
- If you need assistive devices or equipment, always have them charged and ready to go.
- Make sure you have access to important documents. Take the time and make sure you are prepared for anything that could happen.
For more information on preparing for emergencies, visit the county website and search for the Community Emergency Response Guide by searching “CERG.” Also, be sure to sign up for emergency alerts from Fairfax Alerts so you'll always be in-the-know! Register at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts. Meanwhile, you’ll want to create, update or finish your emergency plan or emergency kit; use the Community Emergency Response Guide (CERG) to help your journey. You can find this guide at www.fairfaxcounty.gov and search “CERG.” And plan for 2020 by hosting a drill such as the Tornado Drill on March 17 and the Great Southeast Shakeout on Oct. 15.
In less than 24 hours between Dec. 31, and Jan. 1, 2020, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department responded to two house fires. There were no working smoke alarms in both house fires! Please remember the importance of having working smoke alarms on every level of your home, in every bedroom, and outside sleeping areas. Fairfax County residents can get FREE battery-powered smoke alarms by contacting their local Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department fire station, by e-mailing email@example.com, or online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fire-ems/free-smoke-alarms.
FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, recently updated the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, known as IPAWS, to give authorities more capabilities when sending Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to cellular phones and other wireless devices. The updates include Spanish-language capabilities, an increase from 90 to 360 characters per message, and an expanded alert category that allows the public to opt-in to a test message category for state and local officials. The updates also include more accurate geo-targeting capabilities for alerts. The ability to receive alerts on television and radio via the Emergency Alert System is not affected by the WEA upgrade.
You can’t see, smell or taste it, but radon is considered second only to smoking as the leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that results from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It can seep into your home from cracks and other holes in the foundation. The highest levels of radon are typically found in the lowest livable areas of the home, such as basements or other rooms in direct contact with the ground. The higher the radon level and the longer a person is exposed to it, then the greater the health risk. And radon can only be detected by testing. Virginia residents can order a $3 test kit at www.vdhradon.org. You can also use that link to find certified radon professionals who can test and fix the problem. For more information on radon, please also visit www.epa.gov/radon or call the National Radon hotline at 1-800-55RADON (557-2366).
Finally, get emergency preparedness information and emergency news by email. Sign up for email updates from the emergency information blog at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/blog.
That’s it for this edition of the Fairfax County Health and Safety Podcast, produced by the Fairfax County, Va., Government. Thanks for listening. Additional information about health and safety topics and emergency preparedness may be found online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov. And remember, if you have a police, fire or medical emergency, call 9-1-1. For non-emergency needs, call 703-691-2131.