When the power outage hit our home in Potomac Hills on June 29, we ran around frantically throwing everything we could into the car in search of an air conditioned hotel without thinking about what we really needed.
If we only had a list of essentials that we would need, oh how life would have been so much simpler.
Communication was difficult, if not impossible, as we tried to figure out where to go and how to get there. And we were hampered as we tried to prepare for any contingency plan.
There will be other outages and emergencies that will require fast action from every resident in McLean, and it's never too soon to plan for the next one.
What we know now, and didn’t know then:
Fairfax County public information staff used multiple methods to communicate to residents, including the emergency information blog (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/blog); Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN) messages – email, pager, cellphone – to residents.
Social media was especially helpful reaching residents without electricity, utilizing Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, allowing residents to access these messages on smartphones, tablets, etc., according to John Foust, the Dranesville District Supervisor.
“Make a kit: Everyone should have a survival kit in their residence consisting of canned food, water and medicines in order to survive at least three-days without assistance,” said Bruce McFarlene Sr., emergency inclusive planner, Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management.
Fairfax County’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) spearheaded a project that developed a website with a pre-formatted “Family Planner” and "Business Planner,” both specifically designed and developed to be accessible to people with disabilities. Check it out at www.readynova.org, he said.
Here are tips from public safety officers and my own experience to stay safe and secure especially if you have to leave your home in an outage or other emergency:
- Keep a landline in your home. Cell service was knocked out by the June 29 storm and subsequent blackout that lasted several days but landlines kept working
- Make sure you have plenty of light available from flashlights (keep lots of batteries in your home) and other kinds of remote lighting so you are not in the dark
- Don’t use candles. They are a safety hazard
- Print out relevant information from your computer because it won’t work if power is out. Include emergency numbers of family, neighbors and friends, doctors and prescription information.
- Keep a list of hotels on your refrigerator, including 800 numbers which might be easier to reach than a local number.
- Take your cellphone and charger with you. You’ll eventually get to a power source.
- Bring your laptop, iPad, smart phone, too.
- Take all your medicine with you and keep a list of what you take handy.
- Keep a full gas tank at all times in the event of an emergency.
- Don't forget about Fido and Kitty. Take your pets with you, too. Don’t forget their food and toys.
- Take some food with you and fill up some bottles of water
- Turn out the lights, turn off the air conditioner and keep the refrigerator plugged in
- Lock all your doors when you leave and make sure the windows are secure, too.
Next week: How to buy a generator