By Darryl E. Conley
Emergency Manager, USAG Fort Belvoir, DPTMS
The Atlantic Hurricane Season is upon us and the exact dates are from June 1, 2021 to November 30, 2021. Continuing with our monthly community awareness and education article from the Fort Belvoir’s Emergency Manager, for July we focus on staying connected at home, at work and on the go. Staying connected at home at a minimum involves taking safety precautions, using social media and making a commitment to family and residential planning. Moreover, staying connected at work involves being cognizant of your protected population, colleagues and work place planning. Lastly, staying connected while on the go involves ensuing proper maintenance is conducted on your vehicle (s), knowing main and alternate routes to and from your place of business and commuter planning. Rather at home, at the office or on the go you must know your risk, stay connected and have a plan.
Staying connected at home involves taking safety precautions, recognizing alerts and making an emergency plan for you and your household. At a minimum, some safety precautions should include strengthening your home by de-cluttering drains, bringing outside furniture inside, parking your vehicles in your garage, using surge protectors and gathering supplies to include food and water for your entire household. Remember the recommended the amount of potable water is 1 gallon of water, per day, per person/pet. Additionally, households should stay connected to social media and recognize alerts and warnings applicable in and around their office or residence. Rather on or off post, staying connected to social media in and around Fort Belvoir will require you to sign up for community alerts and self-register in the mass warning notification systems on and off post…see self-registration links below for more details. Also, individuals should keep their cell phones charged and acquire backup charging devices to power electronics. Staying connected means making sure everyone in your household knows and understands your emergency plan. Your plan should be practiced and include your location, shelter-in-place information, evacuation location and communication procedures.
Staying connected at work means knowing what risks exists for you, your colleagues and having a plan to mitigate circumstances tied to hurricane preparedness. Staying connected at work requires you to ensure your office phone, cellular phone and/or email are able to receive weather watches, warnings and alerts. A major factor in hurricane preparedness is knowing the physical layout of your building; knowing your ingress and egress routes for each building you conduct business in, to include access control points for the post. Additionally, being prepared at work is not just for yourself but also being in a position to help other personnel requiring assistance; knowing where the fire alarms are located on each floor and knowing where the public announcement systems is located and who controls it is advantageous. Lastly, the use of a contingency plan will help mitigate some hazard specific circumstances. The minimum requirements should list the hurricane specific hazards, shelter location, evacuation routes and key communication contacts per building. In the interim, contact your facility manager, building manager or emergency manager and ask for a copy of your building emergency action plan.
Staying connected on the go means performing preventative measures on all your vehicles; knowing main and alternate routes between home, work and play; staying connected involves having a commuter plan in the event of unforeseen circumstances. In preparation for a hurricane while on the go, make sure you fuel up your vehicle (s), keep an emergency roadside kit in your vehicle along with life support items such as blankets, food and water. Try and keep none perishables food or at least food and water that have a shelf life of at least 72 hours. It may be a good idea to have a hard copy map to back up your cellular phone or GPS. Knowing the public transportation modes in and around your area of travel is an advantage. Ensuring your family and/or colleagues know your daily driving directions to include alternate routes. Ensuring you have access to local traffic and transportations information can help with situational awareness…see links below for details.
Ultimately, it is your responsibility to pay attention to emergency information and alerts for you and your household. To stay connected please download any number of weather apps, connect to social media, and create an account with Fairfax county Office of Emergency Management at: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/readyfairfax/stayinformed.
The Fort Belvoir Garrison uses the ALERT system for mass warning and notification messages. Sign up at: HTTPS://Alert.CSD.DISA.MIL Also check with your assigned command or agency to determine if there are other methods to receive warnings. Remember to check with surrounding jurisdictions if you live off-post or commute to Fort Belvoir.
NOTE: Remember, for Fort Belvoir power outages, residents should call the emergency maintenance (EM) number at 703-619-3880 or use the “Active Builder” App to enter work orders. In turn, the EM help desk employee will dispatch a technician to troubleshoot the outage and determine if the utility company need to be dispatched.
To register for Fairfax County Warnings at https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts
For additional preparedness resources, visit: https://www.ready.gov/be-informed
For Hurricane Infographics link: https://www.ready.gov/collection/hurricane-preparedness-graphics
CAC holders, to self-register for the ALERT Mass Warning and Notification messages. Sign up at: HTTPS://Alert.CSD.DISA.MIL
Links to local traffic and transportation information: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/trafficinfo/511.htm