Wednesday, December 31, 2008

CERT in 2009-a new year, with new roles. CERT Volunteers needed for the inaugural!

Red Cross NCR looking for partner support with Mass Care Volunteers

Hi folks and happy new year!
2008 was a great year for CERT, and 2009 is starting off well too. CERT members have been asked to help with the inauguration event!
The Red Cross needs our help.They need volunteers,hundreds of them to help during the inauguration. The Red Cross needs CERT members preferably with mass care and sheltering training. But, if you are not trained the Red Cross will train you. The time period where CERT members are needed range from January 15th to January 22nd. If you are interested in helping out, please contact Elliott or Andrew (a CERT 15 class graduate, incidentally).

your volunteer PIO

Here is YOUR opportunity to volunteer during Inauguration!

The Red Cross of the National Capital Region has been asked to perform a number of essential roles during Inauguration Week (1/15/09 through 1/22/09).These roles include sheltering local victims of daily disasters (e.g. fire victims) while there are no available hotel rooms within 200 miles. Another aspect of this massive operation is sheltering and feeding emergency services personnel coming in from across the country to help with the inaugural. Also, volunteers are needed to be on standby to shelter thousands of people should there be an unexpected event that interrupts the festivities.

If you would like to be trained to volunteer for Mass Care and Shelter Operations, please let us know!

Very much looking forward to your reply and to your support.

Elliot Harkavy, NGO Partner Services Lead
American Red Cross of the National Capital Region

Andrew Levy, NGO Partner Services Deputy
American Red Cross of the National Capital Region

Friday, December 26, 2008

Facebook ROCKS ! and an okie dokie for a new CERT brochure!

Hi folks!
I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday season! I've got a few things to toss out to the Fairfax County CERT family, so here goes.......
Hey, you haven't tried Facebook yet! Why not? Cathleen set up a Fairfax County CERT facebook page, but I haven't seen many people on it. C'mon, give it a try! Below is the Wikipedia description of the site.

Facebook is a popular, free-access social networking website that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc.[1] Users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school, and region to connect and interact with other people. People can also add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profile to notify friends about themselves.

I wasn't a big fan of these social networking sites,I always thought this sort of thing the province of the 18-25 crowd........until I tried it. I'll tell you, Facebook is actually quite interesting! You sign up for it (hey, it's FREE), you build a personal profile,put your own pictures on it, post your favorite youtube videos there,and connect with other people all over the world. You can throw a snowball,"poke someone"; learn of my love of punk rock and Wallace and Grommit; Micah and his love of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cathleen's always interesting game of Pirates.Not to mention Denise's always intriguiging posts. Some CERT members are already on there, and it's a really a lot of fun folks.

On a deeper level; Facebook is a way to easily connect with people....not only for the silly and mundane, but possibly in not so good times. In an emergency a facebook post could conceivably allow loved ones to know if you were ok-sometimes a text message or email gets out where phone lines may be overloaded or downed. THAT is the intriguiging part of facebook-It may be useful in that respect. Another thing-Facebook software is freely available for your Blackberry, I phone and a host of other PDA/smartphones. I "Face" on my blackberry,myself. Give it a try, you'll be glad you did!

On another subject, we have been allotted the funding to make a new CERT brochure!!!!! As those who have come out to work at our community outreach event (you have, haven't you?? Remember, participation in three community outreach events in a calendar year can count as your yearly refresher.) Fairfax County CERT uses a variety of handouts, one page sheets and the like to get the emergency preparedness and CERT message to the community. With this new brochure we can combine the hodge podge into one easy to hand out brochure.
But I need your help.................. What would YOU like to see in a CERT brochure? The target of the brochure is everybody-residents all over Fairfax County. Drop me a line at and lets all brainstorm on this. We have a substantial amount of funding for this project, I was told. So, if you have an idea please pass it on. This brochure will represent OUR CERT team to our neighbors. I've got some time (scratch that, LOTS of time- I was laid off from my job the week before Christmas-ho ho oh no! for me) to put this together and would like to finalize the layout before December 31st if possible.
On a final note, are there any CERT members that speak or write other languages? If you do, please let me know.

your volunteer PIO

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Resolve to be Ready…Take Time to Make a Plan

Here's a good article from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

For a New Year's resolution that's free and easy to do, consider this: take time to make sure your family has a plan in case of an emergency.

"Making a plan can make a big difference in how your family survives a disaster," said Michael Cline, state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. "Resolutions are sometimes hard to keep, but making this decision could save the lives of your family members and protect your property."

Because families may not be together when an emergency happens, it is important to decide ahead of time how family members will get in touch with each other and where they will go and what they will do. People with written emergency plans are better prepared to handle emergencies and recover successfully from them.

Here’s what to do to make a family emergency plan:

  • Talk with your family about the hazards and likely threats for your area and what your family would do during an actual emergency.
  • Decide on a meeting place if your family cannot return home. Choose a neighborhood meeting place and another meeting place if you cannot get to your neighborhood. Also, if you have pets, choose a destination that accepts pets if you ever need to evacuate your home for any length of time.
  • Choose an out-of town friend or relative as an emergency point of contact. This is important because it may be easier to make a long distance phone call than to call across town. An out-of-town contact can help communicate among separated family members. Be sure everyone in your family has this person’s phone number.
  • If you are a parent, ask your schools and daycare providers how they will communicate with families during a crisis. Ask if they are prepared to "shelter in place" if needed and where they plan to go if they must leave.
  • Write down your family emergency plan. Get printable worksheets to make a plan at

    Ready Virginia is a statewide public outreach program to help residents learn what to do before and during emergencies. Visit for information on how to get a kit, make a plan and stay informed for all types of emergencies, including natural and human-caused disasters.

    In addition to a family plan, every Virginia family should put together an emergency supply kit with essential items to last at least three days. This includes – at a minimum – water, prepackaged and canned food, a working battery-powered radio and extra batteries, flashlights, and a first aid kit and medications, if needed.

    A companion Web site,, is available for those who speak Spanish.

    During an emergency, you will be better prepared to safely reunite your family and loved ones if you have a family plan. In 2009, resolve to be ready … make a plan now.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fairfax County CERT on Facebook

Hi all,

We are exploring utilizing different Social Media Tools to see if we can get the cool CERT word out about. We have set up a Facebook page about our CERT program at Fairfax County CERT. You must be a Facebook user to access.

Don't worry if you don't want to break into Facebook, we will still be putting up the best, important "need to know" information on this blog. However, if you are a Facebook, I have tied the blog entries into the Facebook page.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Fire Safety

With the onset of the holiday season, it is important to focus on fire safety and prevention. The celebration of the season brings with it increased usage of electric lights, decorations, candles, and the ever popular Christmas tree, all of which can be potential fire hazards. Additionally, cooking fires increase during the holidays as families and friends gather to celebrate. By following general fire safety precautions, potential holiday fires, deaths, and injuries remain preventable.

Christmas Trees
What’s a traditional Christmas morning scene without a beautifully decorated tree? If your household includes a natural tree in its festivities, take to heart the sales person’s suggestion – “Keep the tree watered.”
Christmas trees account for hundreds of fires annually. Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters or matches start tree fires. Well-watered trees are not a problem. A dry and neglected tree can be.

Selecting a Tree for the Holidays
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long and, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.

Caring for Your Tree
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

Disposing of Your Tree
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.

Holiday Lights
Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets
Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch.

Holiday Decorations
All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.

Artificial Christmas Trees
If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

Candle Care
If you use lit candles, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.

Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree
Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame – candles, lighters or matches.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!


Monday, December 8, 2008

Winter Fire Safety

During the winter months, residential fires are more prevalent than they are in the spring or summer. This is due in part to an increase in the number of cooking and heating fires.
With colder temperatures and the high cost of home heating fuels and utilities, many people resort to using fireplaces, wood stoves, space heaters, and other alternative heating methods to keep warm. All of these methods of heating are acceptable; however, they are also major contributors to residential fires. Many of these fires can be prevented! The following fire safety tips can help you maintain a fire-safe home this winter.
Wood Stove and Fireplaces
Wood stoves and fireplaces are becoming a very common heat source in homes. Careful attention to safety can minimize their fire hazard.
To use them safely:
* Be sure the fireplace or stove is installed properly. Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (36 inches) from combustible surfaces and proper floor support and protection.
* Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction, and design. Purchase wood stoves evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
* Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
* Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
* Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening, to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants.
* The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
* Don’t use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
* Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
* Keep flammable materials away from your fireplace mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite these materials.
* Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
* If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. NEVER break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.
It is important that you have your furnace inspected to ensure that it is in good working condition.
* Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition.
* Do not attempt repairs yourself: leave furnace repairs to qualified specialists.
* Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be required.
* Check the flue pipe and pipe seams. Are they well supported and free of holes and cracks? Soot along or around seams may be an indicator of a leak.
* Is the chimney solid, with cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.
* Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.
Kerosene Heaters
* Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup. * Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over.
* Never use fuel burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel (coal, kerosene, or propane for example) can produce deadly fumes. Use ONLY the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. NEVER introduce a fuel into a unit not designed for that type fuel.
Keep kerosene, or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well ventilated storage areas, outside of the house.
* NEVER fill the heater while it is operating or hot. Follow manufacturer’s instructions. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, avoid overfilling. Cold fuel may expand in the tank as it warms up.
* Refueling should be done outside of the home (or outdoors). Keep young children away from space heaters – especially when they are wearing pajamas or other loose clothing that can be easily ignited.
* When using a fuel burning appliance in the bedroom, be sure there is proper ventilation to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide.
Winter Storm Fire Safety
* Fire-Related Hazards Present during and after a Winter Storm.
* Alternative heating devices used incorrectly create fire hazards.
* Damaged or downed utility lines can present a fire and life safety hazard.
* Water damaged appliances and utilities can be electrically charged.
* Frozen water pipes can burst and cause safety hazards.
* Leaking gas lines, damaged or leaking gas propane containers, and leaking vehicle gas tanks may explode or ignite.
* Generators are often used during power outages. Generators that are not properly used and maintained can be hazardous.
* To safeguard yourself, your family, and your home from these potential hazards, please follow the safety tips listed below:
Chemical Safety
* Look for combustible liquids like gasoline, lighter fluid, and paint thinner that may have spilled. Thoroughly clean the spill and place the containers in a well ventilated area. Remember to keep combustible liquids away from any heat source.
Electrical Safety
If your home has sustained flood or water damage, and you can safely get to the main breaker of fuse box, turn off the power. Assume all wires on the ground are electrically charged. This includes cable feeds. Look for and replace frayed or cracked extension cords, loose prongs, and plugs; exposed outlets and wiring could present a fire and life safety hazard. Appliances that emit smoke or sparks should be repaired or replaced. Be sure to have a licensed electrician check your home for any damage.
Gas Safety
Smell and listen for leaky gas connections. If you believe there is a gas leak, immediately leave the house and leave the door open. Never strike a match: any size flame can spark an explosion. Before turning the gas back on, have the gas system checked by a professional.
Generator Safety
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines when using a generator. Always use a generator or other fuel-powered machines outside of the home. Carbon monoxide fumes are odorless and can quickly overwhelm you indoors.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008 fact sheets have been updated!

Hi folks!
Get a kit-make a plan-get involved........Does this sound familiar? Of course it does, these are the main points of information on the federal government preparedness website,
I was just informed that new and updated information is available on the website, the web address is below: is a 24/7 resource for information on learning to prepare, and how to stay prepared. Check it out!

your volunteer PIO