Thursday, June 19, 2014

Try This One Simple Trick to Make Yourself More Prepared*

What's one concrete step Fairfax County residents can take right now to increase their emergency preparedness?

Sign up for free emergency alerts from Fairfax County's updated emergency alert system, Fairfax Alerts.

Rolling out today, Fairfax Alerts is the county's system for sending you alerts for severe weather, traffic, and other emergencies. And you can get them the way you want to receive them: text message, email, smartphone app, and even landline phone.
Fairfax Alerts logo
Fairfax Alerts replaces the previous CEAN alerting system; if you had alerts set up on CEAN (which is shutting down in October), you'll need to set up a new account on Fairfax Alerts. Here's the message they sent out:

Fairfax County has transitioned to its new and improved “Fairfax Alerts” system, as of today June 19, 2014. We encourage all CEAN users to visit to register for the new system.

Some Fairfax Alerts features include:

• Choose to receive traffic updates, emergency alerts and county government notifications.
• Choose automatic weather notifications for up to five (5) geo-targeted locations and the ability to set quiet periods for chosen weather alerts.
• Add up to ten (10) delivery methods such as email, cell phone, home phone and text messages.
• Mobile application available via iPhone or Android devices.
• Fairfax Alerts is FREE. You may incur charges from your cell phone company if you have a per-call or per message limit on your mobile device.

For additional information about Fairfax Alerts, please visit and share with family, friends and co-workers!

Fairfax Alerts: If we can’t reach you, we can’t alert you!
Questions about Fairfax Alerts click
Like the message says, you can customize your alerts for specific locations, as well as for the types of alerts you want to receive. For example, in the screenshot below, in my Severe Weather Alerts, I've skipped warnings and watches for excessive heat, freezes, and hurricanes (because we usually get a few days' warning from regular news), but kept thunderstorm and tornado watches and warnings (which can happen very quickly).

Screenshot of the Fairfax Alerts customization screen.

Check out answers to Frequently Asked Questions and register now for Fairfax Alerts.

Remember, the 3 steps for being prepared for emergencies are:

1. Make a plan
2. Have a kit
3. Stay informed

Setting up Fairfax Alerts is a great way to do #3, staying informed.

p.s. Sorry for the clickbait headline, but it's actually an adapted version of something I heard FEMA administrator Craig Fugate say at a preparedness conference: He asked us all to do one thing on the spot to increase our preparedness, which was download the FEMA mobile app. And we did.

Joe Loong, volunteer Social Media Specialist for Fairfax County CERT, is an editorial content and community engagement consultant. You can email him at

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