Ready for winter? The ice storm earlier this week may have made for some great photographs, but caught a lot of residents unprepared for the impact. Coincidentally, last week was Winter Preparedness Week in Virginia, but with temperatures in the 60s, it was hard to imagine that winter would come so soon! While the National Weather Service predicts “normal” temperatures and precipitation this winter, we still need to be prepared – now.
Fairfax County’s Office of Emergency Management recommends an emergency supply kit, and a plan, for each family. The kit should contain:
• Three days’ food that doesn’t need refrigeration or electricity to prepare it (don’t forget to put a manual can opener in your kit);
• Three days’ water (a gallon per person per day);
• A battery-powered radio and extra batteries; a basic first aid kit (and a supply of prescription medications, if you take them);
• Food and food items for your pets;
• Extra blankets and warm clothing.
• Fuel up your vehicle in advance of a predicted storm event, and make sure you have enough windshield washer fluid under the hood.
• Charge up your cell phone and other electronic equipment. I find the phone charger for my car to be an enormous plus, especially in case of electric outages.
Make an emergency plan. Decide who your out-of-town emergency contact will be, and where you will meet up or connect with family members if you can’t return home. Share that information with everyone in your family circle.
Get connected with ways to stay informed about emergencies. In addition to local media, you can sign up for free email and text alerts from Fairfax County government via the emergency alert system http://www/fairfaxcounty.gov/cean. Road condition information is available at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/hazards/snow-plow-roads.htm.
As tough as our winter weather may be this week, it pales in comparison to the refugee camps in Turkey, where thousands of Syrians have fled to avoid violence in their home country. Leaving with little but the clothes on their backs, families are facing a frigid winter in the tent cities that have been created. Purcellville Mayor Bob Lazaro recently visited the refugee camps and brought back a plea to the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, which he also chairs. Blankets were needed desperately. Could Northern Virginia help? The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors issued a call, and county residents were enormously generous. In barely two weeks’ time, thousands of blankets were donated. In my office alone, we collected 26 large packing boxes of blankets – baby quilts, crocheted afghans, brand new throws among them. The cartons will be crated and shipped to Turkey via a non-governmental organization for distribution to the refugees. Thank you to all who responded to the call for assistance. It was a remarkable response, and deeply appreciated.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at email@example.com.