How Residents Can Prepare
* Griffin said residents should prepare to be self-sufficient for three days. This means having a flashlight and battery-powered radio or TV, a three-day supply of nonperishable food, one gallon of water per person per day, medications, extra clothing and personal hygiene items. The Fairfax County Citizen Corps Web site, www.fairfaxcountycitizencorps.org, has more details on what to include in an emergency supply kit and how to put together a communication plan to stay in touch with loved ones.
* Residents should know the emergency plans for their children's schools so that in case of an event, residents are not driving to schools to pick up children who are safe. Driving would add to traffic, making it harder for emergency personnel to respond.
* If the county needed help during an emergency, it could turn to the Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region, which was established to plan and coordinate homeland defense and civil support operations in the region. Maj. Gen. Guy C. Swan III is commander of the Military District of Washington and the Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region. The region includes the District and the counties of Montgomery, Prince George's, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William, and the cities and towns within those counties.
Taking Care of People With Special Needs
Griffin said Hurricane Katrina affected many categories of people with special needs, underscoring the importance of including them in emergency preparedness planning.
These populations include people reliant on public transportation, people with disabilities, people for whom English is a second language, county residents who are economically disadvantaged, jail inmates, people without computers and medical patients.
* One solution was to publish the regional "Your Guide to Emergency Preparedness" in seven languages and put it on the Web (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/emergencyprep.pdf).
* The Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board has begun to discuss how to reach county residents who are economically disadvantaged and cannot afford cell phones, text messaging, pagers, Internet access or wireless devices.
* The Sheriff's Office has developed plans and conducted a drill to evacuate inmates in the event of a natural disaster, bioterrorism incident, terrorist attack or other emergency.
* The county's 30 kiosks, located in libraries and other government buildings, show the same information as the county's Web site and are available to residents without Internet access.
* State laws and regulations require that nursing homes, hospitals, licensed day-care centers and other private facilities have evacuation plans, Griffin said.
Planning for Pets
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita showed how pets are an important part of our lives, Griffin said, adding, "We realize that many residents will simply not leave their homes without their pets."
* The county has developed a draft Pet Protection Plan. In the event that emergency shelters are opened in Fairfax, county officials will make every attempt to use facilities where pets can be accommodated.
* According to the Red Cross, should an evacuation or emergency shelter become necessary, the most important thing to do is evacuate pets, too. Leaving pets behind is likely to result in their being injured, lost or worse, Griffin said.
* Hotels and motels outside Fairfax may accept pets, or you could ask if "no pet" policies could be waived in an emergency. Griffin advised people to keep a list of pet-friendly accommodations, including phone numbers, with other disaster information and supplies. If you have notice of an impending disaster, call ahead for reservations. Ask friends, relatives or others outside the affected area whether they could shelter your animals. Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency and include 24-hour phone numbers.
* Assemble an emergency supply kit for your pets, including medications and medical records; sturdy leashes and/or secure carriers to transport them safely; current photos of your pets in case they get lost; food, potable water, bowls, cat litter, litter box and can opener; information on feeding schedules and behavior problems; and a veterinarian's phone number in case you have to board your pets or put them in foster homes.