September is Emergency Preparedness Month and the County’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is hosting several events to spread news on how to be prepared for the community emergencies. We’ve been lucky not to have any big storms or power outages so far this year, but it’s still open hurricane season through November!
OEM’s Emergency Preparedness Month offerings have something for everyone, including bar trivia, movies, trainings for those who want to be more involved, and a webinar and community exercise. Take a look at all of the events on the OEM website.
Many of the emergency events in Arlington are weather related, but the training webinar and community exercise will put you in a scenario of a regional blackout, unrelated to any storm. At this interactive session, you’ll work with other community members about how you can adapt without things we’ve come to count on, like electricity, and you’ll hear about some of what the County and utilities do to help the community prepare, cope and recover. With the scenario being a blackout, you will explore how much electricity is spread through daily activities we take for granted.
To help understand the situation and recover after an event, the County opens an Emergency Operations Center staffed with representatives for County services that will most be needed during that emergency. When there is an extensive power outage the energy team is called in. I work at this energy desk and help work with the utility. We pass along our knowledge of downed wires and power outages and highlight any areas for priority restoration. In return, Dominion helps to tell us their restoration schedules and more detailed work areas to help coordinate other recovery efforts.
Generators have been increasingly used in Arlington as one survival mechanism. The County uses generators so that the water pollution control plant can continue to treat wastewater in the event of a power outage and mobile generators can keep traffic flowing and prevent accidents at key intersections. I even have a friend who uses a generator at home to keep the internet running when the power is out. If you do choose to use a generator, make sure to follow safety precautions and local regulations when operating them. To stay in touch with family and friends, and get the latest updates on emergency situations, consider adding an extended battery pack or solar charger for your smartphone to your emergency kit, in addition to the other items you’ll need that you can find in this Arlington Prepares app.
By: Jeannine Altavilla