Monday, November 29, 2010

Prince George County, MD looking for volunteer "hostages"

Prince George's County, MD will be hosting a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional drill on December 9, 2010, simulating a terrorist/hostage scenario. This will be the third drill in a series of three. Fairfax County public safety agencies have been involved in the previous drills and in preparing for the upcoming drill. They are looking for 20-30 more people to volunteer to act as "hostages" for the December 9 drill. BC Kenny Wolfrey (BC407-B) will be present as an evaluator as part of the COG LEEMS committee. If anyone is interested they can contact Ms. Melissa Rivord @ 202-962-3261.

Monday, November 22, 2010

To fry, or not to fry.....

Yes, it is the annual "be careful when frying a turkey" post! Yet again I have dug into the CERT archives to dig up and beat the dead turkey I have posted for the last three years. I know it is repetitive, but bear with me.
Have you thought about how you might be cooking your Thanksgiving 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? Has cooking with Emeril Lagasse gone to his head? 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.

There are many reasons a deep fryer can be dangerous. Since using the typical pedestal type turkey fryer SHOULD NEVER BE DONE INDOORS (this includes a garage or barn, even if is not entirely closed in), making sure you have the space and equipment to do this outdoors is important. Also bear in mind, the weather; if it is windy, 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 ...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....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 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 these 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. 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 Administration's website for a copy of: Behavioral Mitigation of Cooking Fires by going here:

For a short demo on a fryer fire, go here:
Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Winter Preparedness Week: Dec. 5-11

Several severe winter storms affected the Commonwealth throughout the 2009-2010 winter season, killing 14 and bringing multiple record-breaking snowstorms and cold temperatures to every part of Virginia. Power outages and blocked roads created a dangerous situation for many, and it could happen again this year.

Winter Preparedness Week, set for Dec. 5-11, is an opportunity to remind Virginians of the dangers that can come with colder weather and that taking three basic steps to emergency preparedness can make a big difference.
  • Make a plan. Closed roads can prevent you from going home. Decide on a meeting place outside of your neighborhood if your family is separated and choose an out-of-town relative or friend to be your family’s point of contact for emergency communications. With your family, write down your emergency plan – get a free worksheet at

  • Get a kit. Along with the basic supplies (three days’ food and water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio with extra batteries, and your written family emergency plan), add a first aid kit, medications if needed, blankets and warm clothing, supplies for special member of your household, and pet items.

  • Stay informed. Before, during and after a winter storm, you should listen to local media for information and instructions from emergency officials. Be aware of winter storm watches and warnings and road conditions. You can get road condition information 24/7 by calling 511 or checking

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hurricane Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: Be prepared, inform local authorities about any special needs before a hurricane strikes.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010



SAN DIEGO - Yesterday, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate took the stage at the 2010 TEDMED Conference in San Diego, Calif., to announce a new public challenge to come up with creative ideas on how we can prepare communities before disaster strikes. Fugate posed the challenge to the audience as he discussed how responding to disasters takes an entire team, not just the U.S. government, and how we must plan for the entire community before disaster strikes. Fugate, a former volunteer fire-fighter and emergency medical technician, drew parallels between treating a sick patient and responding to a community devastated by a disaster. Although Fugate announced the new challenge at the TEDMED conference, FEMA is encouraging all members of the public to participate and submit their ideas by visiting

"As individuals, we are always thinking about staying healthy and protecting our bodies from disease, whether through vaccinations, doctor appointments, physical activity or other ways. Shouldn't we be thinking about protecting our communities in the same way?" said Fugate. "We are always encouraging individuals to visit and take the steps to be more prepared before disaster strikes, but I'm here to ask for your help and to recruit you for your ideas on how we can better prepare communities, entire communities, for disasters."

TEDMED is part of the TED conference series, which brings together speakers from a wide variety of fields, including business leaders, journalists, entertainment figures, scientists, artists and authors, to share their diverse experiences and how their fields intersect with health and medicine. Other speakers at this year's conference included CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Magician David Blaine, among others. For more information visit

Since joining FEMA, Fugate has reached out to a wide variety of groups and organizations, to expand what he refers to as the "emergency management team." He has met with leaders representing Wal-Mart, Target, AT&T, Family Dollar, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, National Retail Foundation and others to improve disaster planning and coordination. Earlier this year, FEMA put together the first ever Technology Sector Day, as a forum to bring government and key technology innovators together to discuss how to work better together and how to leverage technology to improve the way FEMA does business. Participants included tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Verizon and others.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Follow FEMA online at,,, and Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

Monday, November 1, 2010

CERT 49 of Mt. Vernon Graduates 22

One of our largest CERT Level 1 classes to date, CERT 49 graduated Monday night. This marks the fourth class in the Mt Vernon area and is becoming very popular. The CERT Level 1 class has all the razzle dazzle of CERT Level 2 but without the patient carries and lifting/cribbing. This makes the class open to participants of all skill levels. Many of the students attended the CERT Level 2 Final at Lorton Prison October 30th as victims or as rescuers. This was a great group to teach. I look forward to many of them staying involved.