Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More Power!

Ok, so the title of this posting is a bit deceiving. Today I am writing to discuss a problem occuring throughout the United States as ice storms wreak havoc on power supplies. If you find yourself without power here are a few things to bear in mind:

If you are staying in your home:
If you do not have heat, close unneeded rooms, stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors, and cover the windows at night.
Eat and drink. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration. Do not consume alcoholic beverages, as this can dehydrate the body and cause it to lose heat.
Wear layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing.
Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration, and subsequent chill.
Use flashlights or other battery-powered lights instead of candles, if possible. If you must use candles, place them in candleholders and away from anything that could catch fire. Never leave a burning candle unattended or sleep with candles burning.
When using a fireplace, wood stove or space heater for heat or if you are using a generator for electricity, practice fire safety and observe the precautions against carbon monoxide poisoning given below.

Protecting Against Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning
Fireplaces, wood stoves and portable heaters and generators are often used when power outages occur. These and other appliances produce carbon monoxide, which can be fatal if people are exposed to high levels even for a brief time. CO cannot be seen or smelled and can kill in minutes.
Tips to avoid CO poisoning include:
Never run a generator or any petroleum-fueled (kerosene, propane, gasoline) engine or appliance inside a basement, garage or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented.
Keep vents and fireplace flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
Never run a motor vehicle, generator or any gasoline-powered engine outside an open window, door or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
Regularly check and properly maintain fuel-burning appliances, especially when in use.
Carefully monitor household members for signs of CO poisoning.
Exposure to CO can cause loss of consciousness and death. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms.
Anyone who suspects symptoms of CO poisoning should go outside and seek fresh air immediately. If a person has collapsed or is not breathing, call 9-1-1 for emergency medical assistance immediately from a safe location.

Food Safety
Winter storms and power outages mean food safety issues require special attention:
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
Refrigerated foods should be kept at 40F or below.
Check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the appliance thermometer reads 40F or below, the food is safe and may be kept refrigerated. It is safe to refreeze the food, but the quality and flavor of the food may be affected.
If a thermometer has not been kept in the unit, check each package of food after power is restored. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook and use. Do not rely on appearance or odor to determine if food is safe.
Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4-6 hours and the refrigerator door was kept closed.
Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40F for two hours or more.
Remember: When in doubt, throw it out!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Tree Safety....

As I mentioned before, the holidays see an influx of fires throughout the country. Here is a short breakdown of some fires which occured over the last few days. If you are choosing to celebrate the season with a Christmas tree, again, please beware of the problems lights can have on your tree. If you are celebrating the holidays with lots of candles, please, never leave them alone.
San Antonio
Lights left running on a Christmas tree were blamed for a fire that damaged a home Monday on San Antonio's North Side. A passer-by called 911 after seeing flames shooting out of a home in the 1100 block of El Monte at 9 a.m.
District Fire Chief Robert Elizondo said that it appears the lights overheated and ignited an artificial tree. Elizondo said it's important that residents not leave Christmas lights on when they are away from their home.
"They can get significantly hot, sometimes overload," he said. "It may be good to make sure you put them on power strips, so that if they detect overheating ... (it can) turn off before it gets to the tree." Elizondo added that the best to do is unplug indoor decorations when you are out of the house.
The home suffered significant water and smoke damage.

Port Huron
Firefighters from Port Huron's three fire stations responded to the call at about 3:38 p.m., but said the damage largely was restricted to the immediate area of the tree.
Port Huron fire Battalion Chief Kevin Anderson said the fire will be listed as accidental, caused by a malfunctioning Christmas light.
"We think the tree may have fallen, and the weight of the tree sandwiching the lights (between the floor) and itself may have started the fire," he said.

New York City
A fire in a Bronx apartment building, apparently caused by faulty Christmas lights, left a man fighting for his life last night, authorities said.
Eleven firefighters and 13 civilians suffered minor injuries in the blaze at 2334 Boston Post Road.
The critically injured victim, a 58-year-old man, was found in cardiac arrest in the eighth-floor hallway. Neighbors said firefighters told them that lights on a tree were to blame for the 6:20 p.m. blaze

Chandler, AZ
Firefighters extinguished a blaze in a home Monday that began with unattended candles that ignited a Christmas tree, fire officials said.A woman who lives in the home told fire officials she left candles burning and left the home shortly before the fire, said Battalion Chief Dan Couch, a Chandler Fire spokesman. No one else was in the home.The fire, contained to the living room, began at 12:10 p.m. and created “a lot of smoke damage,” in the home, in the 1600 block of West Ironwood Drive near Dobson and Ray roads, Couch said. No one was injured, he said. “The lesson in this is, anytime you leave the house even if it is to walk to the mailbox, you've got to put out those candles,” Couch said.

Carpinteria, CA
A set of Christmas tree lights are being blamed for a fire in Carpinteria that killed an elderly woman.
It happened at the San Roque Mobile Home Park in the 5700 block of Via Real in Carpinteria. Firefighters say the Christmas lights that caused the Saturday blaze overheated, setting a pair of drapes on fire.
The lights were the big style bulbs, the kind that firefighters do not recommend because they produce a dangerous amount of heat.
A charred shell is all that's left of the Carpinteria mobile home. The blaze broke out Saturday morning and took the life of the 88-year-old woman who had been asleep inside.

Be sure to pay attention to any manufactuer recalls regarding lights which may be faulty.

You can also go sans tree, decorations, etc. as I am doing this every year.

Stay safe.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Holiday Fire Safety

As we close in on the holidays, please be sure to take steps to make your holidays “fire safe” this year. Statistics show the number of house fires increase during the winter holiday season – fueled in part by holiday decorations, candles and Christmas trees.

All told, house fires during the winter holiday season kill about 500 and injure about 2,000 people, and cause more than $500 million in damage.

Here are a few helpful hint so keep your house fire safe this year:

If you are celebrating using a Christmas tree, select a fresh tree that is kept in water at all times.
Needles on fresh trees should be green and should not fall off easily. Do not put your tree up
too early or leave it up longer than two weeks. Dried out Christmas trees can ignite easily and boost a fire by spreading it rapidly to nearby combustible materials!

Remember this video?

Place your tree in a safe place away from heat sources such as a fireplace or heat vent.

Maintain your holiday lights.
Inspect your lights before you use them to ensure they do not have frayed wires, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets or excessive wear. Do not do this while the lights are plugged in or else you run the risk of shocking yourself on any possible frayed or broken spots. Only use lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory and do not leave the lights on when you are not home.

Avoid overloading electrical outlets.
Do not link more than three light strands unless the directions indicate it is safe. Periodically check the wires. They should not be warm to the touch.

• Use only non-flammable decorations that are placed away from heat vents.
If you are using an artificial tree make, certain it is flame retardant. (FLAME retardant meaning it slows or inhibits the spread of fire. FIRE retardant pertains to something which delays or prevents combustion from occuring. These terms are NOT synonymous). Never put candles on a Christmas tree.

If you are celebrating the holidays with candles, ensure they are in a stable holder and place
them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Do not leave lighted candles unattended.
Never leave the house with candles burning. Also, never place fireplace askes in anything other than a metal container and only do so when the coals are completely cool. Never place the ashes in your basement, nor in your garage. If you do, you will probably burn your garage know who you are.

Please ensure your chimney is swept if not now, then certainly at the end of the season. If you are new to your house and do not know when it was last swept, call in the chimney sweep. Maybe if you are lucky you will have a Mary Poppins like sing-along as well as a clean chimney. Either way, a clean chimney is a safe chimney.

Personally, I say forget the tree, the decorations and spend all that money on a trip somewhere warm and splurge on something nice for yourself and block the holidays from your mind. Since I am afraid I am the only one thinking that, do as you will.

Remember, if you simply do as I tell you, there will be no problems.

For more information:


Twelve safe gifts for the holidays

Hi folks!

I know everyone is shopping for that perfect holiday gift for that special person. Here's some really great gift ideas, give the gift of safety! The following list is from the Canada Safety Council.
your volunteer PIO

The Twelve Safe Gifts for the Holidays

The perfect gift is sometimes difficult to find. Canada Safety Council has a dozen suggestions of gifts for this holiday season that are thoughtful, affordable and priceless.

  1. Three smoke detectors and batteries: The ultimate gift that shows you care. Change your batteries twice a year.
  2. Carbon monoxide detector: It may save a life. Install near the sleeping quarters so that the alarm can wake you up to get outside immediately.
  3. Quality all-purpose fire extinguisher: Always a necessity in the kitchen, workshop or garage. Regular maintenance is required.
  4. Winter emergency car kit with road flares: Great gift for anyone that owns a car. Be sure to add a high-energy snack, bottled water and a blanket.
  5. First aid kit: You may want to add the cost of taking a CPR class or First Aid course to this gift. This might be a “gift that gives back” if you ever need CPR or first aid care.
  6. Second floor escape ladder: A small investment for life saving potential.
  7. Flashlight and batteries: One of the most useful items to have in several areas of the house. Be sure to advise babysitters where they can find one.
  8. Bicycle flag, light and mirror: For the environment-friendly cyclist in your family.
  9. Window guards and balcony netting: For keeping the little tots in your life safe from serious falls. Make sure that you always supervise children and have at least one window in each room that can be used as a fire escape.
  10. Safety goggles: For the handy-person planning the next home renovation.
  11. Portable cordless telephone: (or phone message system) Great for making life easier when supervising children in the bath tub, in the pool or outdoors playing.
  12. Defensive driving courses: Wonderful for drivers of all ages. To reacquaint your loved ones with the newest safety tips and advice on road safety.

Holiday tag to attach to gift basket:

You mean so very much to me,
I want you safe and sound.
Accept this gift and you will see
you’ll thank me later on!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Fairfax County CERT mentioned in December Citizen Corps newsletter!

Hi Folks!
This month's national Citizen Corps newsletter mentions our participation in the October Boy Scout disaster drill camporee, and mentions our blog site as well. Check it out at:

your volunteer PIO

Monday, December 3, 2007

Winter is here! Prepare for it!

News Release Archive

VDEM News Release

Marc LaFountain, VDEM (804) 897-6510


Ready Virginia Focuses on Getting Prepared for Winter

Winter Preparedness Week: Dec. 2-8, 2007

Richmond, Va. - As temperatures continue to drop, the Ready Virginia campaign reminds Virginians that winter weather can cause downed power lines and slippery roads. There are simple, low-cost steps any resident can take to get ready for winter.

"Hurricanes and tornadoes are not the only weather-related hazards that can impact the Commonwealth," said Michael Cline, state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. "Every family should be ready to deal with the dangers that winter presents."

The Ready Virginia campaign is a coordinated effort to provide vital preparedness information to Virginians. It brings state government agencies together with private sector and local government partners in a statewide initiative to prepare residents for all hazards, including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.

The campaign's Web site,, provides links to winter-specific safety information from the Virginia departments of Emergency Management, Fire Programs, Social Services and Transportation, as well as the American Red Cross and the National Weather Service. Information includes heating safety, generator safety, fire safety tips, winter driving guidelines, types of winter weather advisories and how to respond to them, winter preparedness information for kids, and the VDSS energy assistance program for low-income Virginians.

"No one should be fooled by the mild forecast," said Bill Sammler, warning coordination meteorologist for the NWS in Wakefield, Va. "Even if the average temperature is higher, there is still the real possibility of severe winter weather."

Simple steps to becoming winter ready include getting emergency supplies, making a communication plan and staying informed about local weather conditions.

  • Emergency supplies for winter weather include, among other things, essential items to last at least three days in the event of a power outage, such as a battery-powered radio and extra batteries, food and water, flashlights, a first aid kit, blankets and medications.
  • Making a communication plan involves discussing the impact of severe winter weather in your area and what your family would do during an actual emergency. Decide on a meeting place if your family cannot return home due to closed roads, designate an out-of-town friend or relative as a point-of-contact and plan for the specific needs of your household. Always tell someone before you travel on snowy or icy roads where you are going and when you expect to arrive.
  • Before, during and after a winter storm, it is critical that you stay informed by listening for the most local, up-to-date information from emergency officials. Local media will convey instructions from local, state and federal government partners, such as details about road conditions, winter storm watches and warnings, and power outages.

Additional winter tips:

  • Plug space heaters directly into wall sockets and keep them at least three feet from other objects. Do not leave them unattended.
  • Install a smoke detector in every bedroom and one on every level of your home. Check the batteries monthly and replace them annually.
  • Make sure that outdoor pets have adequate shelter, unfrozen water and food.
  • Driving is most dangerous when the temperature is at or under 32° F. If the road is wet, ice is likely, especially on bridges, ramps and overpasses. Find current road conditions by calling 511 or visiting
  • Even when roads have been treated with salt and/or sand, drivers should reduce their speed and leave a safe driving distance between themselves and other vehicles on the road.

To see preparedness information for any hazard, visit For more information, contact the Ready Virginia partners listed below.


Sunday, December 2, 2007

32 pages of free disaster preparedness manuals and information

Hi folks!
If your'e interested, here is a link to a site with 32 ! pages! of disaster preparedness books/manuals and information. This site covers a dizzying array of different topics relating to disaster preparedness and mitigation, it's free to download and well worth taking a look at. The site is available at:

your volunteer PIO

Congratulations CERT 29!

Hi Folks!
I wanted to pass on a hearty CONGRATULATIONS to the graduates of the CERT 29 class, who went through their final exercise yesterday at the fire academy! You had lots of victims (47 I believe?) and a lot of heavy extrications to do; you learned how to properly use a fire extinguisher. You all got to deal with the exciting issue of disaster psycholgy; you all either met(or dealt with the consequences of ) CERT 19 graduate Patty Greek's daughter, SHE was the one pulling the tags off the victims!
Above all, you put all the training you've had together in one large, stressful and trying mass casualty disaster situation. You sweated, toiled, stressed and worked hard to find your victims and take care of them. (I can imagine each of you slept very well last night, too.......)
I would like to personally congratulate each and every one of the CERT 29 graduates; thanks to each and every one of you for taking the CERT class; and thanks to each of you for "standing up" and learning skills to make your homes, families and your community safer places. As Derek says, "YOU ROCK!!!!!" MANY thanks to the instructors that trained you; Derek, Mike, Steve, Jim, Donna, Cathleen, Jack, Susy, David, Lani ,Bob and all the prior CERT graduates who helped as victims during the classes and the drill. Combined, these folks must have over a million years of disaster mitigation experience :) Their high levels of professionalism,extensive knowledge and complete willingness to share their experience with all of us make Fairfax County CERT a truly unique and real world training experience.
We all hope that our CERT training will never have to be used; but there is great comfort in knowing that if we're ever needed, we have more CERT team brothers and sisters help shoulder the load.
I'll post some pictures of the exercise as soon as I can.

your volunteer PIO

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fairfax County Citizen Corps-A look back at 2007

Hi folks!
I just took a peek at the Fairfax County Citizen Corps blogsite (available at ) and saw some items of interest to CERT.
The first post on the site are slides from a presentation documenting activities of Faifax County citizen corps throughout 2007. CERT is VERY prominently displayed in the pictures; a lot of our activities this year are documented very well too. (WOW, CERT has participated in a BUNCH of community outreach events since earlier this year.)
The second post involves our county Citizen Corps chairman Andrew Levy. (He's a graduate of CERT 15, by the way). Looks like he walked off with Virginia's Citizen Corps volunteer of the year award at the recent VPSOC conference in Newport News, VA. Congratulations, Andrew!
Remember, this Saturday December 1st is the date of the final drill for the current CERT 29 class; hope to see you there!

your volunteer PIO

Monday, November 26, 2007

Fryer Fires in the news.....

Apparently nobody in Billings, Montana reads the Fairfax CERT blog..... this person not only left the fryer unattended, they also used it on a covered deck.

A turkey fryer is to blame for a fire that destroyed a Billings home Friday night.
Flames broke out shortly before 9:00 on Friday, when an unattended turkey fryer, on a covered deck, caught the home on fire.
The fire leveled the home, a detached garage and two vehicles. A neighbor's home was also damaged.
The Billings Fire department has ruled the blaze accidental.
No one was injured, but a neighbor, who arrived after the family escaped says two dogs were still in the home at the time of the fire. Neighbor Dale Sekora describes the scene, "When I got there, I could look under the smoke, but within seconds. The smoke was right on the floor. It was just too dangerous to go in the house. I called the dogs to see if they would come, but it was just too dangerous to go in." Four adults and two children made it out safely but a small dog died in the fire.

In St. John, Indiana, someone decided to place the fryer near a car in their garage......I believe we covered this as well.

ST. JOHN, Ind. — Firefighters blame a turkey fryer for starting a fire that destroyed a garage and a sport utility vehicle in St. John.

Fire Chief Jim Funk says firefighters from two departments were called to the home in the community about 10 miles south of Gary about 5:30 Thursday evening.
Funk says the fire began when oil in the turkey fryer boiled over. All the residents were able to get out of the house and no injuries were reported.
The fire destroyed the garage and an SUV parked nearby. The house had smoke and water damage.

And finally, someone in Freeman Township, Maine, who left the fryer unattended and was using it indoors.....

FREEMAN TOWNSHIP - Arlene Bubier prepared a turkey Friday for a second Thanksgiving dinner and was getting ready for work when someone came to the house and told her smoke was coming from the barn.Bubier's husband, Steve, was cooking the turkey in a propane-run turkey fryer in the barn and had just stepped into the house, according to Linda Brackley, the mother of Arlene Bubier. Fire Chief Scott Dyar said it was the turkey cooker that started the morning fire, but was unable to say if the cooker malfunctioned or specifically how it caused the blaze. The barn and a business it housed were destroyed, and the house was heavily damaged, he said. Firefighters thought they had saved the house, he said, but they ended up having to tear off half the roof on the back side to get at the fire.The Bubiers were able to escape uninjured and get the family's dogs out, Brackley said.About 45 firefighters from Strong, Kingfield, Phillips, Farmington, New Vineyard and Salem Township responded to the fire call at 10:45 a.m.They hosed down the structure to keep the fire from spreading into the house, but it got into the eaves and the walls, Dyar said.

No reports of drinking and frying.....

And you thought I was just being Chicken Little....or Turkey Little, as the case may be.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Fairfax County CERT talks to West Springfield Neighborhood Watch members

Hi folks!
Tonight Fairfax County CERT did a presentation on the CERT program for West Springfield's neighborhood watch monthly meeting. This was held at the Kings Park library in Burke, and was a good community outreach event.
We "tag teamed" the participants with information this evening; I was fortunate in having Kevin Mullins from CERT 20 and John Bauer from CERT 21? there to help with the talk. Both John and Kevin are members of neighborhood watch,John is also a member of our "sister" Citizen Corps organization, the VIPS program. VIPS is short talk for Volunteers in Police Service; and John is a tireless 160 hour per month !! volunteer in this program. Way to go John!
I gave the participants an overview and history of the CERT program,and a short session on emergency preparedness. We also explained what activities we would be doing in a disaster that might overwhelm normal first responder activities. Kevin, John and I went through the class schedule; and described what incredibly well organized training we go through to help our fellow citizens in times of disaster. The participants were most interested in how we would "self deploy" in our neighborhoods; and interested in our "fun with duct tape and sharpies" medical techniques. (Folks, peoples' ears perk up when you mention "duct tape" and "lifesaving first aid" in the same sentence...........)
Kevin wrapped up the talk with a detailed CERT gear demonstration. Kevin "walked" the people through the contents of his CERT pack; showing the use of the various items and emphasizing the importance of PPE when doing CERT activities. He did a great job doing this; and we ended up the presentation with a short question and answer session.
Thanks to John and Kevin for setting up this event; events such as this help further the ideals of personal emergency preparedness among the members of our community. Would you be interested in having CERT come out and talk about preparedness at your next community event? Hey, let me know; I'll be happy to do it. Just shoot me a short email to
your volunteer PIO

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanks Ed! Great radio classes!

Hi folks,
I just wanted to pass on a big THANKS to Ed Harris of CERT 8 for planning and producing the CERT radio classes earlier this week. They were well put together and very informative! If anyone would like the course materials from this most informative series of classes, please email me at and I'll make sure you get the info.
volunteer PIO

Friday, November 16, 2007

It's almost turkey time.....

With less than a week before Thanksgiving, have you thought about how you might be cooking your turkey? What the heck does this have to do with CERT, safety or anything other than a cooking class or something on the Food Network? Has Mike gone completely crazy? Who does he think he is, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse? Good questions all!

Over the past few years there has been a growing trend of people frying their turkeys. I have to say, fried turkey sure do taste good, this is a fact. Unfortunately, if you are novice, or even have experience frying a turkey, it is a serious and dangerous prospect. For example, the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has decided not to certify any turkey fryers with the UL sticker.

There are many reasons a deep fryer can be dangerous. Since turkey frying SHOULD NEVER BEEN DONE INDOORS (this includes a garage, even if is not entirely closed in), making sure you have the space and equipment to do this outdoors ins important. Also bear in mind, the weather; if it is raining or snowing this could affect your fryer.

In order to fry your turkey you will need to get the oil in the fryer up to at least 350 degrees (so says the Queen of Southern Cuisine, Paula Deen)...350 degrees, which, if you did not know, IS REALLY HOT! Working with an unstable product such as blazing hot oil over an open flame is dangerous, even if you know what you are doing.

Other safety issues include:
* If the burner is not on level ground, the units can easily tip over, spilling hot oil (3-5 gallons of hot oil at 350 degrees!!!) onto the burner and creating a LARGE, FAST fire.
* If the pot is overfilled with oil, the oil may spill over when the turkey is lowered into the pot. Oil will hit the flames on the burner and engulf the burner with fire. There are ways to measure out the right amount of oil, which is imperative to ensure you do not have the pot overfilled.
* Water and hot oil do not go together. Partially frozen turkeys contain water of course, so if you lower a partially frozen turkey into a fryer, expect an extensive fire. Heaven help you if you place a frozen turkey in the fryer; to help defrost it, of course....this will cause an explosion as the water expands in the hot (350 degrees ) oil. Don't do it.
* The outdoor fryers have no thermostat controls, so they can overheat quickly and cause the oil to boil over the sides of the pot before you can react.
* The pot and handles get extremely hot (remember, 350 degrees of boiling oil), posing severe burn hazards.
I am sure there is someone out there saying to themselves, "I won't let Mike yuck my yum, I am going to fry a turkey anyway". Fine, be that way. It won't be the first time someone did not listen to what I said and partially burned their house know who you are.

You still want to fry that turkey? Ok, fine. Please, bear these things in mind as you go about frying. These are not guaranteed to stop a fire or keep you from getting burned, but they may help in mitigating a larger disaster (such as burning your house down):

* Never use a turkey fryer on a wooden deck or inside a garage, home, or within any structure.
* Place the fryer a safe distance away from any building (bear in mind if you place it in the grass, the grass should not be overly dry, nor overly wet. Also count on the grass in that area dying and never growing back).
* Fryers should be used on a firm, flat surface to prevent them from tipping over. Try the middle of a parking lot....not the sloping driveway in front of your house next to your car.
* Once the pot is filled with the recommended 3-5 gallons of oil (probably peanut oil) and the burner is ignited, you should never leave the fryer unattended. This also means do not cook if you are under the influence. Please, don't drink and fry.
* Keep pets inside and keep children at a safe distance. A safe distance being somewhere where they will never see it because once they do, they will want to get close.
* Use well-insulated gloves or oven mitts and wear safety glasses (I think I know where you might have a pair laying around) to guard against oil splatters.
* Do not wear loose clothing as this might ignite if you get too close to the flame or the oil, or both. If your clothes do catch on fire, remember, Stop, Drop and Roll!
*Turkeys must be thoroughly thawed. While very tasty, be very careful of injecting marinades into your turkey. The extra liquid may cause the oil to spill over.
*Keep a portable dry chemical fire extinguisher nearby. I know, we have not had extinguishers yet, so, in this instance, pull the pin on the extinguisher, point it at the fire, squeeze the trigger, spray and pray. Never use a water type extinguisher to extinguish a grease or oil fire. Do not deploy the garden hose to assist with your turkey fryer fire, this will do MUCH, MUCH more harm than good.
* If your fryer does catch fire call 9-1-1 immediately!

Finally, remember the oil (3-5 gallons of it) inside the pot will remain hot for hours after your turkey has been removed. DO NOT bring it indoors and again, keep children and pets away from the pot.

For more information on some of the hazards of cooking fires (not just the turkey fryer fires), please visit the United States Fire Administrations website for a copy of: Behavioral Mitigation of Cooking Fires by going here:

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Reminder: Radio Workshops Tonight and Thursday

There is still room at Mason District tonight and lots of space at the Government Center Thursday.

The LA Times has a great example of tactical audio + photos of firefighter shelter deployment during burnover in LA. Outstanding example of good communications, accounting for personnel, which saved lives.

Monday, November 12, 2007

December is Winter Storm Awareness Month

It's time to be thinking winter-time thoughts. The temperatures are starting to plunge and fall is here full-force in Fairfax County. Before it gets too cold, it's time to prepare your home against winter storms. Helpful resources include:

Winter Storms and Extreme Cold - from

Winter Storms and Extreme Cold - from FEMA.

Winter Preparedness Reminder - from Fairfax County.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fire Safe Heating Systems

This list is from the Fairfax County web site ...

Cold winter weather brings snowball battles, cozy evenings, and an increase in the use of home heating equipment. It's probably time to give your heating system a safety check. Heating equipment failures or malfunctions are one of the leading causes of all home fires. We can reduce the occurrence of these types of fires with a little preventative maintenance and some good fire safety habits.

The following are some tips for safety around heating systems:

  • Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a covered metal container outside and well away from the house.
  • If you use a wood-burning stove or fireplace, have a licensed chimney sweep clean and inspect your chimney at least once a year.
  • Place a glass or metal spark screen in front of the fireplace and install caps on chimneys.
  • Never use a flammable liquid (gasoline, kerosene, lighter fluid, etc.) to start a fire or rekindle a small one.
  • Keep paper, clothing, trash, and other combustibles at least three feet away from your furnace, hot water heater, or wood-burning device.
  • Have a professional clean and check your heating system yearly. This may prevent a fire and will make your heating system more energy efficient.
  • Keep portable heaters away from curtains, beds, clothes, and children. Make sure there is at least three feet of clearance around the heater for proper ventilation.
  • Turn heaters off when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Never refuel the heater while it is operating or while it is still hot. Always refuel outside. Avoid overfilling.
  • Be sure your space heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Interested in Communications? Take it to the next level....

If you are interested in becoming a licensed Amateur Radio Service operator, you can help serve Fairfax County in another dimension.

The Amateur Radio Emergency Service® of Fairfax County, Virginia is an organization of licensed Amateur Radio Service operators who volunteer time and resources to provide communications support when disaster strikes. The organization provides support to citizens of Fairfax County and neighboring jurisdictions, as required, to serve the public interest. Its members train, prepare and work together to develop and maintain the technical and operational skills required to ensure individual and team effectiveness in communicating under adverse conditions. The organization demonstrates and improves proficiency through public service events, public safety exercises, and emergency operations.

To find our more, please visit

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Community Emergency Response Team Final Exercise: Call for Volunteers 12/1/07

You can participate in one of two ways ...

1.) Come as a CERT member -- you will need to provide a $12 check payable to the NCAC for food AND you will need to bring two victims to participate. This is a great way to freshen up your skills since your last CERT class. Your check will save your slot.

2.) Come as as a Victim. You know from your own training that having a large number of victims helps make the final realistic and fun. As a victim you will be expected to play your role as realistically as possible. You will receive "make-up" to show "wounds" and will have fake blood placed on your clothes. As such, please dress for the elements (we have the drill rain or shine) as you will be waiting outside to be found, in clothes that you can get very dirty, stained, and possibly even torn. Some of you may also be called upon to assist the rescuers in performing their duties. You may participate in any way you feel comfortable.
This is a very exciting opportunity to help your community. Live "victims" are essential to providing high quality training, and you'll learn quite a bit too! We'll even throw in lunch.

You need to arrive at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Academy (4600 West Ox Rd. Fairfax, VA) by 8:00am. The drill should be completed by 2:00pm. We’ll need you to participate for the entire time. However, if you need to leave early due to an emergency, just let a facilitator know so we can account for you. Due to limited parking, it is requested that you carpool as much as possible.
The schedule for the date usually goes something like this:
8:00am - Check in. You'll be registered and your contact information taken. You'll be given a card with a set of "injuries" you are to act out.
8:00am - 9:30am- You'll start in the makeup process. While this doesn't take much time, there is a wait to get through.
9:30am - 11:00am - Bruch will be served and the lead instructor will give you a brief presentation on safety issues, what to expect, etc.
11:15am - 11:30am - You'll be escorted to the area that you'll be "trapped" or laying.
11:30am - The Drill begins. The rescuers will search, sort the victims by severity, extricate those that are trapped, and transport all victims to a treatment area.
1:30pm - Victim checkout, debrief, and "thank-you's" from the students.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Radio Workshops: Pick Your Date 11/13 or 11/15

There are two scheduled radio workshops:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Mason District Community Room
6507 Columbia Pike
Annandale, VA 22003
Time: 7:30-9:30 pm

Thursday, November 15, 2007
Fairfax Co. Govt Center,
Conf. Center Room 10
12000 Government Center Parkway
Fairfax, VA 22035
Time: 7:30-9:30pm.

Contact Ed Harris 703-501-1400 to let him know which session you plan will attend, to ensure adequate handouts.

In this refresher participants will review operating characteristics of FRS radio, features and controls and simple operating procedures. New material will explain fundamentals of multi-channel operations used for communicating in complex incidents. In an exercise participants will receive an incident briefing, use a communication plan to determine a “working” frequency and practice using net operating procedures, prowords and phonetics.

Bring your CERT gear, FRS radio with batteries, flashlight, reflective vest, and suitable clothing for the expected weather.

Fairfax County CERT mentioned in VDEM's emergency management update

Hi Folks!
This article about the recent BSA "disaster drill camporee is in the November 7th issue of VDEM's emergency management update. The full newsletter ( sent weekly to emergency management personnel throughout the state of Virginia) is available at
Thanks to all who participated in and planned this super event.
your volunteer PIO

Virginia Department of Emergency Management, EM UPDATE, Issued Biweekly for the Virginia Emergency Management Community

Fairfax County CERT trains area Boy Scouts
Members of the Fairfax County Community Emergency Response Team trained Boy Scouts at the George Mason District BSA "Camporee," Oct. 13-14 at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Academy. The event focused on methods of effective disaster preparedness and mitigation, with a simulated hurricane recovery center that helped scouts earn emergency preparedness merit badges. CERT subject matter experts led scouts through various training and response scenarios and served as command and control staff, moulage technicians and logistical preparation staff.

CERT Radio Workshop: Tuesday November 13th from 7:30-9:30pm

The ability to effectively communicate in a disaster is a key topic that we have all grappled with during our CERT training. This in-depth class on radio operations provided by Ed Harris, CERT graduate. If you want tips on how to use your radio effectively or would like to learn more about communications, this is a great class to attend. Please contact Ed Harris for more information.

Mason District Community Room
6507 Columbia Pike
Annandale, 22003
Time: 7:30-9:30pm.
Questions contact Ed Harris 703-501-1400

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fairfax County CERT as a Wikipedia reference!

Hi folks!
One of our CERT members passed this link on to me yesterday. It's a link for wikipedia; a very popular online dictionary. Take a look at the references section at the bottom of the page. The "sample CERT blog" link and sample Citizen Corps blog links point to this blog and the Fairfax County Citizen Corps blogs respectively. Here's the link:

Thanks to our CERT 15 graduate and Citizen Corps Chairman Andrew Levy for passing on this most interesting link.

your volunteer PIO

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Email Subscription Services by a couple of Federal Websites of Interest

FEMA, DHS and US Fire Administration have all recently added functionality to allow users to subscribe to receive email updates when content is changed. It's an easy way to keep tabs on preparedness resources from the federal government.

Subscribe to DHS updates

Subscribe to FEMA updates

Subscribe to USFA updates (above pink box on home page)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery

As Terry mentioned, this Saturday we fall back, and as such, it is the second time this year we need to swap out our smoke alarm battery.

We all know smoke detectors can save lives when working properly. It is important to test your smoke detectors (PLURAL) each month to assure they are in working order. I am sure many of us do this most nights when cooking, but if not, get out the broomstick and give the little test button a push.

Unfortuantely many times fires start, smoke detectors are in place, yet the detectors never sound. Maybe someone took the battery for a remote control or some other device, or removed the battery to stop the chirping or maybe they were going to replace it and forgot. Maybe their cooking skills set the detector off one too many times. Whatever the reason, it doesn't matter when you have fire and don't know it because the detector sits upon the ceiling, silent and uncaring because someone removed the battery.

To combat this problem, every spring and every fall, when you change your clocks, change out the battery in your smoke detectors (PLURAL). There should be one on every floor of your house and for those in apartments, have at least two, one in your sleeping area, one outside it.

Like with so many other things in life, smoke detectors do not last forever. The life of a smoke detector is approximately 10 years. If your smoke detector is 10 years old or older, replace it. If you have recently moved into an older house or apartment, replace it. Do you trust your life with the previous owners/tenants?

For more information, please visit the United States Fire Administration's website:


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Disaster Preparedness Tip of the Week for you...

Hi Folks!
Daylight saving time ends this weekend; and it's a perfect time to set the clocks back an hour.(Either that or you'll end up being WAY too early for work! :) It's also a great time to check or replace the batteries in your smoke detectors.
As CERT's, lets add one more little step to this. Take a few more minutes and check on the items in your emergency kits. Are the batteries in your emergency kit flashlights still good? Are the foodstuffs in your kits beginning to culture bacteria on their own? Is there something you wanted to add to your disaster kits and never got around to doing it? Did you use something out of your kits and forget to replace it? NOW is the time to check and restock those kits; it's better to check them now than to find out problems with your emergency kits during a disaster. That would be disastrous! :)
So everyone; take a few minutes out of your hectic lives and do these easy to do little things. It only takes a little time to make sure your kits are up to snuff but can pay off BIG in an emergency.
your volunteer PIO

Fairfax County CERT Student Graduations In Press Conference

Take a look at the Fairfax County Citizen Corps blog ( where we are featuring high school student programs, including CERT - as part of America's Safe Schools Week.

Today, high school students who graduated from CERT, along with other Citizen Corps Council representatives, participated in a press conference with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Department of Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, and Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.

Tomorrow the blog will feature the recent camporee with the boy scouts.

For all of those that could not get me to be quiet during a CERT exercise, you should have seen me in action here. Total opposite :-)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fairfax County CERT at the Medical Reserve Corps dispensing exercise

Hi Folks!

On Saturday October 27th members of the Fairfax County CERT program helped with the Medical Reserve Corps dispensing exercise. This was held at George Mason University's Patriot Center. The Medical Reserve Corps is one of our sister Citizen Corps organizations; the MRC helps dispense medications when a health emergency is declared in the county. During a pandemic flu outbreak or bioterror event the MRC volunteers; in conjunction with the Fairfax County health department, will dispense needed medications to the residents of the county. You can get more information on the Fairfax County Medical Reserve Corps at
Saturday was the day for MRC's annual dispensing site drill, this year it was held under the framework of the Cities Readiness Initiative. The premise of the exercise was an airborne anthrax attack and our job was to utilize the "quick dispensing" method to get antibiotics out to the residents;well, um........, quickly. Under the quick dispense method needed antibiotics will be distributed to all 1.2 million Fairfax County residents within 48 to 72 hours of a health emergency declaration. People from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention observed the exercise as well.
CERT members helped with this exercise in different functions; I was there as part of the exercise management team, as a member of the transportation unit. (Basically I directed the volunteers to the proper parking lot and to the proper entrance for check in.). I wore my CERT vest; the traffic flow vests MRC issued didn't have enough "reflective stuff" on them. The CERT vests are very reflective when it's dark......Which was useful because it poured rain on me all morning.It was yucky the entire time I was outside at one of the parking lot's intersections ( from 6am to 10am). After that I helped in whatever role the MRC needed me in (I am a site assistant with MRC by the way). Patty from CERT 19 was there with her family as volunteer victims for the exercise, Debra was one of the incident commanders in the quick dispense center. One of our new CERT 29 class members was there as a victim volunteer,and I saw several other CERT's there as volunteers too. Thanks to those that came out!
We also had a CERT booth there, run by the "dynamic duo" of Jack and Susy; in a 2 1/2 hour timespan these folks had a fairly substantial list of people wanting to get more information on the CERT program. There were also booths put up by the county Office of Emergency management; the Red Cross, Volunteer Fairfax, the United Way and MRC itself. Jack and Susy always kept a crowd at the CERT booth; nice job folks!
All in all, it was a very good day. The "quick dispense" method of antibiotic administration is a relatively new method being being tried out (which is why the CDC was there to observe)and CERT members were there to help play a part in keeping our fellow citizens safe.

your volunteer PIO

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fairfax County CERT gets mentioned in Virginia VDEM emergency management update

Hi Folks! The following story is from the Virginia state department of emergency management's EM update. This is a weekly newsletter available to emergency preparedness managers all over the state, it's available at . It mentions our CERT involvement as victims for their exercise. Check out the "additional information" link too; it's a link with some good info on other programs here in the county.

your volunteer PIO

Alexandria CERT's first full-scale exercise

The Alexandria Community Emergency Response Team's first full-scale
exercise tested their response to a mass casualty event, working with
the Alexandria Office of Emergency Management. The exercise provided
refresher training for CERT members, developing their skills in disaster
management and managing a scene until first responders arrive.
Participants included members of Fairfax County CERT, Arlington CERT,
volunteers from the Red Cross and students in Fairfax County Public
School's Fire and Emergency Medical Sciences program.

Additional information is available at

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fairfax County CERT and the US army do it again!

Hi folks!
Andrew's post refers to the exercise we participated in last night. The exercise was held by the US army's 911th engineer company at the old Lorton Youth prison. We were victims for their full scale exercise, and needless to say we had a blast!
We were placed as victims in a room at one end of the old gym; the building is U shaped and the 911th rescuers had to tunnel through probably 400 feet of debris to get to us. They started tunneling at 12 noon on Monday, and "broke through" to us at 745pm last night. It took them 18 hours just to get through the debris; shoring up the collapsed building as they went.
When they finally broke through (the sounds of sawsall saws announced their presence) bedlam ensued! We were in a room and Patty was in the corner hollering, Kevin was screaming about his" broken leg"; Andrew was as usual offering to help the rescuers; Jack was walking wounded and Susy looked like a power cord was sticking out of her shoulder. Jon was confused and I had a wedge of wood in my chest and was hidden from the rest of the room.
The rescuers got the people out; they missed me the first time and their controllers YELLED at them on several occasions too. I mean bellowing at the top of his lungs!!! yelling; when somebody messes up in the army EVERYONE knows about it. Their entire radio net was a 3 minute harangue on missing a victim and buddies not staying together.( Sound familiar? Buddies being seperated in this place could potentially mean DEAD buddies) It was viscious; but those troops learned from it ( or lost their hearing from the yelling!)
They came right back in and found me; I had an impalement, and couldn't move my legs. I was also pretty well wedged in the spot where a simple extrication was impossible. (No "snatch and grab" here folks. ) I was wedged where they couldn't roll me over to slide a stretcher under without having my impalement hit the wall and I was paralyzed too. They were presented with a dilemma; after about 10 minutes of packing my wound and discussing how to get me out; they decided to use a partial backboard on me. (Their determination was "saving life over limb"; I would live but they had to move me risking more spinal damage.) It was a tough call on their part,folks. But, I got to see the reasoning and thought processes for making the decision and this was a really good education! Oh, the impalement got packed just like we CERT's do it.
They put the partial backboard on me (tight!!!!!! like a straight jacket) and pushed me forward and into a floor full of debris. They picked me up by my shoulders and feet; made me feel like a contorsionist getting out of the void space and got out to the main room. Here I was placed on yet another backboard and strapped down TIGHT!!!! . Then the fun part began............
The 911th rescue folks started by handing me down into the "tunnel" they made, head first. Two guys were stuffed in this first space; it may have been as big as a phone booth.These two guys grabbed me, they "fed" me into the hole and slid me onto the floor. Four MORE guys get into this telephone booth sized space and start to do a 6 man backboard carry. Talk about a wild ride folks. I was spun upside down, on my side, one rescuer tripped and fell on me, I was slid headfirst through small spots in the tunnel; at one point they had to negotiate a collapsed doorway with stairs leading upward. That space was barely big enough to get me through, so I was slid upwards, one guy jumped OVER me, got to my head and pulled me up by himself. The other guys got through the doorway (the rescuers looked like toothpaste squirting out of a tube, the opening was that tight!)and on my side, flipped me to one side and toted me up the staircase like I was a briefcase. (well, it was "another day at the office" for these guys).Finally we made it topside and all of the CERT's were there. Patty took a picture of all of us, with me still trussed to the stretcher. (Yeah, that's my feet in the picture :)
That was our part of the exercise; we were thanked again for coming by Lt. Branson AND the 911th engineer company commander! The company commander shook each of our hands; we were their only live victims and we gave them a touch of realism they otherwise would not have had. The commander gave me a 911th engineer company "challenge coin" for our efforts. For those who are army types; you know the prestige of being given one of these. For those that don't; challenge coins are given only to unit members; it's a gold plated "attaboy" on behalf of the unit and a HUGE honor. I accepted it on behalf of the Fairfax County CERT team; we're all CERT's and we;'re all honored by these folks. They honor us by asking us to come out, we are "citizen responders" and these guys wanted us to help them. We honor them by coming out and playing victim for them; by giving them an added touch of realism that they otherwise would not have.
For those who participated in the last 911th drill; Lt. Branson gave us some EXTREMELY nice certificates of appreciation; each one of us were also given a 911th engineer company patch as well. Very nice parting gifts, folks.
We left at this point; each of us dirty, a little more knowledgeable about the in's and out's of rescue, triage and extrication; and proud beyond belief. Things like this make our Fairfax County CERT program better; were you all aware that most CERT training around the country is a classroom only class, with an outside drill as a final exercise only? Think about our CERT classes; so how long did YOU actually stay in the classroom? (oh, one hour out of the 35 hours course, total.......) My point is; we are trained in the dirt,in the debris, in the burn building, in the multi purpose building etc... each time we come out for classes. Practice does make perfect; and Derek's "Less talk, more rock!" couldn't be more true. We've been trained at a level most CERT classes can only dream about. So yes; Fairfax County CERT is better. We're trained well enough to be able to be asked to come out and play with the "big boys", the real first responders.
Thanks to our instructors for making our training some of the best around; thanks to all of the volunteers who participated last night. I hope you all had as much fun as I did!

Your volunteer PIO

Fairfax County CERT is like no other.

Check out the article about what makes Fairfax County CERT different on the Citizen Corps Council blog ->

The pictures were taken at the Lorton training facility.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Roam Secure Network

Many of you belong to Fairfax CEAN Network where you can sign up for emails, text messages, and other alerts from Fairfax county. You can also sign up for alerts from the National Capital Region Text Based Emergency Alert and Notification System on a jusidictional basis. It includes Loudon, Prince William, Fairfax, Arlington Counties; City of Manassas, City of Manassas Park, City of Fairfax and City of Falls Church in Virginia; District of Columbia; Montgomery County and the cities of Gaithersburg, Tacoma Park, Rockville, College Park, Greenbelt and Bowie in Maryland. Prince Georges County is listed as coming soon.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


First of all, great job last night to everyone with last nights class. As you can see the exercises are putting together more and more pieces of what we have been teaching from day one. Some of the issues you are experiencing during our little exercises are the same ones occurring at the national level TopOff exercise. Simple things like communications are a problem across the country, but we can change that. Be sure to talk to your partner(s); talk to the other teams, tell them where you just came from and where you are going; talk to Command and enumerate your needs and the hazards you come across; write things down-don't rely on your memory.

Speaking of hazards, next weeks class will cover various hazards you might come across. This class is important because this is when we will really start getting on you about wearing all of your personal protective equipment (helmet, gloves [leather and rubber], eye protection, knee pads and masks). From this point forward, YOU could become the victim at any point if you are not properly protected.

Also, as we are building upon the classes that came before us so far, be sure to bring plenty of rags for bandages and some blankets to carry victims with. The victims are going to become heavier and more real (and might include YOU), so having the proper equipment to care for them is paramount.

Finally, please remember to get some batteries for your radios. We will spend a little time going over radio procedures next Wednesday, BUT YOU MUST BRING YOUR RADIO WITH THREE AAA BATTERIES INSTALLED! (I would recommend bringing another three for when you kill the first three).

Have a great week and I look forward to seeing everyone next Wednesday, same CERT time, same CERT location.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

TOPOFF 4 Exercise

The TOPOFF 4 exercise is this week (and yes, we do have CERT this week. I just can't go because of T4). To read more about it, visit the Secretary's Journal entry Exercising the Team. Derek is currently at the main Portland site participating in the event. I am sure he will come back with some nifty exercise ideas that we can implement into our own program.

Also, I bet Mike Forgy is enjoying the fact that he is not actively involved with TOPOFF 4 as he was extremely involved with the first three exercises.

Boy Scout Camporee

Hi all ...

Many thanks to those who came out to support the George Mason District's Fall Camporee on October 13-14th. For those who are going through the current CERT class, these are the fine folk who feed us during our final exercise! I believe that there were members of the press there so if and when any articles are posted, we will pass them on to you. For those who helped out, please share your experiences.

I was there for the set up so Jim Raba and I walked the grounds of the academy to mark off any unsafe areas with surveyors tape. I also conducted the safety briefings of the adults who would either be supporting as:

1.) Adult companions to the patrols to ensure two-deep leadership (a very important tenant of Scouting).

2.) Actors / victims.

I left before play started although I did hear that they were going to bedding down in the high bay (how cool was that??). I also saw that Safeway had provided a refridgerated truck for part of the exercise (to simulate a store).


Monday, October 15, 2007

Spend ANOTHER exciting night with the US army!

Hi folks!
I got a call from Lt. JB Branson of the US Army's 911th engineer company today. If you all may remember, he is the platoon leader that requested our help as victims for their last disaster drill exercise at Fort Belvoir a few weeks back.That exercise was a lot of fun to the CERT victim volunteers that participated.
Well, Lt. Branson has asked if we'd like to come out and play victim for them again, their next disaster drill takes place from October 22nd at 10 am until "mid afternoon" on October 24th. This is a disaster drill that involves assets from DC fire department, Arlington County Fire Department, the US army's 911th engineer company, the US Marines "seaburst" decontamination battalion, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Military District of Washington and "others".
The emphasis on this exercise is hazmat operations. DECONTAMINATION ACTIVITIES WILL BE AN INTEGRAL PART OF THIS EXERCISE....So, if you plan on attending they're warning us beforehand this time that we may be asked to get wet. Wear clothes that can get torn/dirtied/moulaged/potentially decontaminated and I'd bring an extra set of dry clothes to change into as well. Oh, cameras are OK this time!
Needless to say, this exercise is going to be MUCH larger than the previous disaster drill. That's why this one is being held at Lorton Prison this time. Our part of the exercise will take place on Tuesday, October 23rd from 6:30 pm until 10:00 pm. We'll meet at the Lorton Prison site (near the landfill) and will sign in, sign waiver forms and participate in the exercise. I'll send out an informational email and a map to Lorton Prison as the time gets closer to the event.
Here's a neat tidbit for you folks; based on the "strength" of our victim "performances" last time; Lt. Branson asked me to tell anyone who wants to participate in ANY part of this 2 day drill in addition to our part on Oct. 23rd, on ANY of the days of their exercise, come on out. Let the guard at the gate know your'e with Fairfax County CERT and are there to be a victim; you'll be escorted onto the site and used as a victim for as long as you'd like to be there. Apparently we've made a good impression on these folks!
Folks, this event does not count as a CERT refresher, but exercises like this give CERT members a really unique insight into first responder disaster response and mitigation activities at a level you don't normally get to see. Besides, its FUN to participate in these exercises!
Interested in participating? Let me know; please email me at the new CERT volunteer PIO address which is:
Volunteer PIO
PS: For those that participated in the last 911th disaster exercise-I'll be picking up certificates of appreciation from Lt. Branson next week. Also, he's made each of the participants a photo CD of the entire exercise for us! The pictures were classified as "unclassified" so he could share them with us. WOW !

Needless to


Hi Folks!

As your CERT volunteer public information officer, I get a lot of volunteer requests,details on events and the like in my email inbox. I also get LOTS of regular email; so my personal inbox was beginning to look like an email "warehouse".
So, in order to manage the flow of information a bit better I've got a spiffy new email address for public information tasks. (Many thanks to Jack for the idea, and Cathleen for the means to do it.)
If you have any emails regarding CERT volunteer events or other CERT public information officer related items; please send any emails to-
Folks, thanks for your help. This will help your volunteer PIO be more effective in the position.
your volunteer PIO

New Calendar For CERT

Hi all ... at the bottom of this page is a google calendar loaded with the CERT events that Terry has been managing as well as the current CERT classes. I would of preferred it up on the toolbar but it just wouldn't fit. :) Please check it out and help out where you can. Don't worry -- I'll remind you about periodically.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fire Prevention Week 2007

As Fire Prevention Week for 2007 slowly draws to a close, take a moment to see if you have done all you can to be fire safe, not only at home, but at work as well.

1- Did you update your home and work escape plan? Does it include two possible escape routes in the event of fire? Do you have a prearranged meeting place?

2- Did you practice your escape plan? The plan is no good unless you actually practice it to see if it works. When practicing your plan, be sure to imagine doing it in smokey conditions. Just because you can get up and walk out in perfect conditions does not mean you will be able to escape when the room is charged with smoke.

3- Did you complete a hazard hunt, both at home and at work? Make sure electrical cords are not frayed, exits are not blocked and nothing is stored too near fire sprinklers. When was the smoke detector last tested?

4- Many residential fires start in the kitchen, so be sure you keep combustible items away from open flames and have a fire extinguisher nearby. If you plan on recreating a flambe recipie you recently saw on tv, make sure you are not doing it under your kitchen cabinets.

5- With the cold weather starting upon us, make sure your chimney is clean before you use it for the first time. Once you have finished with your fireplace, dispose of the ashes properly in a metal container outside of your house. The ashes should be cool to the touch.

For more information on how to be fire safe, be sure to visit the United States Fire Administration Website:

For more information on Fire Prevention Week, visit the National Fire Protection Association Website:


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Calendar for CERT

Hi all ... I'm playing around with a calendar function for CERT. It's not working quite right but I know that. :)

Fairfax County Citizen Corps Website

Thanks to the success of the Fairfax County CERT blog, as part of National Preparedness Month, the Fairfax County Citizen Corps Council created a blog in September.

The blog can be accessed at

Check out the entry Fairfax County Citizen Corps Council New Website Launched. When you view the new website. You will see there is an updated CERT webpage as well.

even MORE !!! upcoming CERT volunteer oppurtunities!

Hi folks!
First off, I wanted to clarify some details regarding this weekend's camporee at the Fairfax County fire and rescue academy.
If you are interested in participating as a volunteer for the camporee, PLEASE email me at .Or, contact Charles Monts of CERT 12 directly at ; he's the organizer of this incredible event.

There is a specific reason for this; If you are NOT on the list to volunteer for this event and just "show up" at the fire academy expecting to help; you will be turned away.
Obviously, the event organizers would REALLY appreciate your help; but they do need to know who is coming out to help.

We've had even more requests for a CERT display presence at some local area events; CERT is getting lots of "face time" at events all over the county. We are getting the CERT "word"out in a big way. Our fellow residents are interested in disaster preparation, and it's showing!
I've just received some requests from the county Office of Emergency Management for a CERT display at two different events. These events are:

Wednesday, October 17th from 11am to 2 pm at Freddie Mac. Freddie Mac is located at 8100 Jones Branch Road in McLean, VA 22102. They are having an emergency preparedness "fair" and would like to have our CERT display there. Basically we would set up our CERT display; talk about CERT to the Fannie Mae employees and hand out disaster preparedness information to them. It's a good oppurtunity to "talk CERT" to these folks! I was wondering if perhaps we had some Freddie Mac employees among our CERT membership; this would be an ideal oppurtunity to help your fellow employees. If your'e interested in manning this display please email me at .

The other CERT display request is for:
Monday, October 22nd at Fannie Mae- There are two locations and two times for this event, which is the Fannie Mae emergency preparedness fair. Again, we would set up our CERT display, give out disaster preparedness information and "Talk CERT" to the fair attendees.

The first location is at 11600 American Dream Way in Reston-the fair at this location runs from 9am to 11am.

The second location (on the same day, Oct. 22nd) is at 13100 Worldgate Drive in Herndon. The emergency preparedness fair here will run from 2:30pm to 4:30 pm

Each of these events will afford us an oppurtunity to spread the very important message of disaster preparedness to an interested group of people. If you would like to represent CERT at any of these events please feel free to email me at .

Your volunteer PIO

For those that participated in the US Army's 911th engineer company disaster drill a few weeks back- certificates of appreciation and a CD of pictures from the event will be mailed to your homes within the next few weeks; per Lt. Branson. He sent me a very nice email thanking us yet again for our efforts; and he RAVED about the great job we did as victims. They truly enjoyed having us there. Being a victim is a good way to learn how to be a better CERT.

He also mentioned another upcoming drill, involving DC fire dept., the Marines, some other assets and the 911th engineer company. The upcoming drill promises to be even larger than the one we just participated in ( And it was pretty good sized!)
He asked if we would be interested in participating in it, the drill runs from October 22nd through the 24th. I will be posting specific details as soon as I get them.
Judy from CERT 29-sounds like a great oppurtunity to use those zip ties! :) Jack, sounds like a good time to start looking for your dog "Gunny" too :) Dirce, sounds like another oppurtunity to be slung over the shoulder of another firefighter :)

Fairfax County Launches Special Needs Registry

(The following is from the Fairfax County Weekly Agenda - Oct 11th)

The online Special Needs Registry (
encompasses two distinct categories - the Medical Needs Registry and the Social Needs Registry. The registry is for residents with medical needs and organizations assisting those with social needs to provide Fairfax County with information so the county can communicate information about emergency preparedness, response and recovery resources to vulnerable, at-risk and hard-to-reach residents.

The Medical Needs Registry will contain the names and addresses of individuals with medical needs who have a high-risk health condition that is either temporary or chronic and who cannot manage for themselves in a shelter or evacuation center; will require assistance in performing the activities of daily living; and/or will require care for and the monitoring of a health condition.
The Medical Needs Registry is voluntary and all information collected will be kept confidential and stored on secure Fairfax County servers.

The Social Needs Registry is a tool used by Fairfax County to facilitate access to groups in need of specialized communications and/or transportation during an emergency. People with social needs are individuals who are vulnerable, at-risk or hard-to-reach in the event of an emergency but are not medically dependent. This includes people with disabilities, limited language proficiency, public transportation dependent and/or household pets and service animals. The nature of the assistance provided will be determined by the individual, the emergency and the resources available to the county. Organizations assisting those with special needs should register with Fairfax County to ensure the safety and well-being of these individuals in an emergency.

The registries may be used for any emergency requiring evacuation, such as flooding, hurricanes, hazardous material spills and gas leaks. The information in the registries will be available to emergency planners and will facilitate the county's preparedness, response and recovery efforts. However, those who are on the registry should still call 9-1-1 in the event of a life-threatening situation.

To register online, visit Residents also may request registration materials and further information by phone or mail: call 703-324-9000, TTY 703-324-9001, or write to the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 565, Fairfax, VA 22035.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Virginia State Animal Response Teams

VASART is seeking volunteers to create local teams that can respond to the needs of animals during an emergency. VASART can coordinate training and resources in order to develop County Animal Response Teams, or CARTs, in every locality throughout the state. VASART is a private-public partnership of organizations, businesses, federal and state government agencies, and volunteers who help animals and their owners to prepare for, respond to and recover from natural and man-made emergencies.

For information about the VASART program, visit If your locality wants to start a local team, contact


Hi folks!
Here is the current list I have of folks who have offered to help with the boy Scout camporee THIS SATURDAY October 13th. Remember, the camporee is being held at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue academy at 4600 West Ox Road ; where we all train. The camporee runs Saturday and Sunday; but our part will be on Saturday only. Here's the current volunteer list I have for the camporee.

Cathleen Tracy
Betty Varholy
Jim Raba
Bob Greenwood

Cathleen, I know you mentioned being able to help from 9am to around 12pm or so. For Betty, Jim and Bob; what times will you be able to help? Charles has not mentioned this so far; but those who are volunteering; I would probably recommend bringing your CERT gear. Please remember folks, THIS CAMPOREE COUNTS AS A CERT REFRESHER TOO! Help the scouts and help keep yourself current as well.
Charles Monts of CERT 12, the event organizer is looking for help at any time on this Saturday; the critical need is for helpers from the 11am to 8pm timeframe. Am I missing anyone who has agreed to volunteer? I'm traveling today without my day planner and feeling a bit brainless.(more so than usual). Charles has been able to organize fire extinguisher training and a visit by the Fairfax county police chopper for the scouts through the efforts of Mike Forgy and Steve Willey,and has organized media coverage as well.
There's still lots of help needed, so if you are interested in helping; please email me at
Thanks !

Volunteer PIO

October 2007 Citizen Corps Newsletter Online ... Fairfax County CERT Mentioned!

The October issue is online in PDF format at it's on page three in the blue sidebar.

As part of National Preparedness Month, Fairfax County, VA, CERT members recently participated in the Fort Belvoir Emergency Response exercise. Members performed various victim roles. CERT members learned about disaster response
through observation and provided first responders with well-needed assistance.

Congratulations to PIO Terry for getting the word out!!!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

CERT's participate in Alexandria CERT's disaster drill

Hi folks!
Saturday a group of us participated in Alexandria City CERT's disaster exercise drill at John Adams elementary school. We all had a great time and learned a LOT about being a CERT. I encourage each of you who participated to share your experiences from it on the blog. Thanks for your help and thanks to our instructors for the training you provide!
Volunteer PIO


Hi folks!
Just a quick reminder that the BSA "disaster drill camporee is NEXT SATURDAY, October 13th at the Fairfax County Fire and rescue academy (where we take our CERT classes, incidentally). We NEED VOLUNTEERS, still for this event. We're going to help teach the scouts disaster preparedness and actually take them through some disaster drills too. We get to teach what our CERT trainers have taught us.
The times that volunteers are needed are from 9am to 8pm in the evening; but the most critical need is for CERT's between the hours of 11am to 8pm. Safety officers are needed, people to help teach various disaster related skills are needed, we need people to help with logistics. But, we need CERT's. CERT 29 classmembers, would you like to show off what you've learned so far? This is a perfect oppurtunity!
Could you spare a few hours out of your busy lives to help teach and train Scouts? If you can't stay all day; could you give us a 4 hour shift? The organizers of the camporee would be most greatful for any time you could give to help. Charles Monts of CERT 12 is organizing this; we need to give a fellow CERT a hand if we can.
If your'e interested in helping, please email me at Thanks for your help!
volunteer PIO

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Autism Awareness

As you go through CERT (or look to use your experiences and training in your neighborhood), please be thinking about those who may need more help or not necessarily fit well within your expectations. A good example of that may be children or adults in your community who have autism. Scott Campbell went through CERT a few classes back and has put together some resources about autism that every CERT should be familiar with ...

He made a presentation at the Fire Academy last year (I think) that brought up a number of good ideas about how to interface effectively with autistic citizens that I had never heard of ... their love of salt (pass those chips!), their drive to wander and love for water (thus, the constant fear of drowning that their caregivers and love ones have for them). Another key behavior is to warn them (similar to how small children need cues) of what is going to happen so they can prepare ... like how a doctor would show a child what is about to happen on their doll or stuffed teddy. I encourage all of you to learn about the special needs of your neighborhood or community.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

"CERT-ifiably" good volunteer events coming up

Hi folks!
Forgive the lame attempt at humor there; but I wanted to keep you up to date on upcoming CERT volunteer oppurtunities. October 6th is the date of Alexandria CERT's city wide disaster drill, here's the details. Please note that this exercise counts as a CERT refresher.

In case anyone is planning to victim, but did not rsvp, we do not have their contact information to let them know of the changes. Please re-send ASAP the following Invitation Update for immediate dispersal to everyone who got the victim invitations. Thank you.
Alexandria Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) 203, 205, and 207, in conjunction with the Alexandria Office of Emergency Management, request your participation as victims for a mass casualty exercise.
WHAT: The 615 Exercise is Alexandria CERT's first annual full scale exercise. It will be a chance to victim in a simulated mass casualty environment and an opportunity to meet and work with local CERT members.
WHO: 21 years of age minimum, unless otherwise approved; CERT graduates of any jurisdiction, Red Cross volunteers, AVB members, anyone with a public safety background.
WHEN: Saturday, October 6, 2007. Report between 8:45 and 9:00a.m. Please be prompt, as the schedule is very tight. The exercise should close between 12:30 and 1:00.
WHERE: John Adams School at 5651 Rayburn Avenue, one block off Beauregard Street, Alexandria-near the Mark Center. Report to the soccer field behind the school. Look for directional signs beginning at Beauregard.
WEAR: Clothes that you expect to get dirty, torn, cut, burned,and/or blood-soaked. Please dress appropriately for the weather and feel free to bring a blanket if you do not wish to be on the ground.
RSVP: If you have not already done so, please respond to the following email address:
Please provide your full name, telephone, and a list of any similar exercises you may have participated in previously. Please CC# me on the email you send, so I can keep track of who from our CERT is going.CC the email to

The next event is the Boy Scouts of America disaster drill camporee being held at the Fairfax county fire academy (where we train to be CERT's , incidentally)This event is on Saturday, October 13th and our part of it will run from 8am until 8pm (or as long as you can help).Here's who I have listed for helping at this event:
Betty Varholy
Jim Raba
This event counts as a CERT refresher and WE REALLY NEED TO HELP OUT AT THIS EVENT ! We need LOTS of CERT's to help......If you've completed CERT training this is an exceptional oppurtunity to teach others what you have learned and gain refresher points to boot! I know Charles Monts of CERT 12 has put a huge amount of time and effort to make this camporee happen; and I hope you can help him out. If your'e interested in helping please email me at .
Thanks for your help!
volunteer PIO
There are other upcoming volunteer oppurtunities, as I receive the information I'll post it here on the blog.