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Friday, April 19, 2013

Tornado Watch Issued Until 10:00 pm

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930, mebrady@co.pg.md.us

The National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Watch for Prince George's County and surrounding jurisdictions until 10:00 pm tonight.  Strong storms with gusty winds and heavy rains are likely to occur during the late afternoon and evening hours.  Everyone should take precautions in the event damaging weather does occur.

One of our slogans we use when severe weather is forecast for our area or is affecting our area is to "Stay Informed-Stay Ready-Stay Safe."  To Stay Informed, the Fire/EMS Department provides you with easy to use methods to stay aware of events in your community in addition to monitoring TV, Radio, NOAA weather radio and Internet websites.

Would you know if severe weather was forecast and approaching your community??  Would you know where to go for shelter or when the all clear was given by government officials??  Deadly tornado's ravaged communities across several States killing dozens of people over the past few days.  The death toll could have been higher, however, early severe weather and tornado forecasts alerted residents to seek shelter early.  If severe weather was forecast for Prince George's County would you receive a early warning??

The Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department maintains Twitter and Facebook accounts that allow citizens and residents to follow and read weather alerts as well as Fire/EMS incident updates, safety messages, personnel profiles, access to department wide websites, contact information and much more.  During times of emergencies and local crisis the Twitter and Facebook accounts are constantly monitored and capable of responding to inquires from members of the County.

News and Weather alerts can also be delivered directly to you.  Notify Me Prince George will send you a text message in several formats and it's easy to sign up.  Notify Me Prince George's is a service provided to alert registered users during major events and/or local emergencies. Notify Me Prince George's will deliver important emergency information and updates to your registered devices:

  • email account (work, home, other)
  • cell phone (via SMS)
  • pager
Simply click here to get started.  

Administered by the Prince George’s County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, NotifyMe Prince George’s, allows enrolled county citizens and residents to be informed of real time events taking place such as amber alerts, severe weather, school and government delays and closings, severe traffic, utility interruptions and emergency preparedness measures.

“We highly encourage all Prince George’s County citizens to sign up for these alerts as we will provide instructions on where to go, what to do, and who to contact in the event of an emergency. These notifications will be very useful during a mass power outage or any type of natural disaster, such as major flooding, which our county experienced back in September,” said Prince George’s County Office of Homeland Securities’ Rhonda Jackson

Local government officials will provide registered participants with necessary information and instructions on a variety of issues. You must register on The Prince George’s County website to activate the alert system. It's free, and once registered, citizens can individually choose what information they would like to receive on their prospective devices.

To Stay Ready, prepare an Emergency Kit and keep it stocked with items recommended here.  

Stay Informed - Be Vigilant - Prepare

In the aftermath of this week's explosions at the Boston Marathon and the reported Ricin-tainted mail to elected officials, you may be wondering what you can do to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones. Officials in the National Capital Region encourage residents to take three simple steps:

1. Stay Informed
2. Be Vigilant
3. Prepare

Stay Informed

There is no information of any specific threats to the National Capital Region at this time. Here are numerous ways to ensure timely receipt when there is emergency information disseminated:

* Visit Capitalert.gov http://www.capitalert.gov/ to register for emergency alerts from your local jurisdiction. If you live in one place and work in another, be sure to sign up for alerts from both localities. You'll be able to get alerts delivered to your email account(s) and as text messages to your cellphone.

* Check your local jurisdiction's website; sign up for email news alerts or RSS feeds.

* Add links to the mobile versions of websites to your smartphone for example, your locality, FEMA http://m.fema.gov/, theAmerican Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/mobile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://m.cdc.gov/ (CDC) and theNational Weather Service http://mobile.weather.gov/.

* Follow social media sites for your local government, such as Twitter and Facebook.

* Add apps to your smartphone. Many jurisdictions have their own apps, as well as theAmerican Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/prepare/mobile-apps and FEMA http://www.fema.gov/smartphone-app.

* Bookmarkwww.CapitalRegionUpdates.gov http://www.CapitalRegionUpdates.gov/ for regional news and information, weather reports and links to valuable preparedness and response resources.

Be Vigilant

Always be aware of your surroundings from your workplace to your neighborhood to a mall to public transportation. Remember, If you see something, say something.  http://www.securetransit.org/
Write down or save the hotline phone number to report suspicious activities. If you cannot easily locate someone in uniform, call one of the following numbers:

* Washington, D.C.: 202-962-2121 tel:202-962-2121
* Maryland: 1-800-492-TIPS tel:18004928477 (8477)
* Virginia: 1-877-4VA-TIPS tel:18774828477 (482-8477 tel:482-8477)

For imminent threats, call 9-1-1.

You can also submit information through online forms through theFederal Bureau of Investigation https://tips.fbi.gov/

District of Columbia Police Department http://mpdc.dc.gov/page/iwatch-reporting-suspicious-activity,

Maryland State Police http://www.mdsp.org/Organization/FieldOperationsBureau/Barracks/BarrackIEaston/ReportSuspiciousActivity.aspx

Virginia's Fusion Center http://www.vsp.state.va.us/FusionCenter/Report_Suspicious_Activity.shtm.


Mobile devices are an important way to stay informed and connected before, during and after an emergency. Here are some tips to prepare yourself and your mobile device; more information is on line http://www.ready.gov/get-tech-ready

* Communicate with friends and family via text, email, Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Texting takes less bandwidth than phone calls and is often the best way to get through to each other in an emergency.

* Make sure your mobile phone has an electric charger, inverter or solar charger.

* If you lose power, you can charge your cellphone in your car. Just be sure your car is in a well-ventilated place (remove it from the garage) and do not go to your car until any danger has passed. You can also listen to your car radio for important news alerts.

* If you do not have a cellphone, keep a prepaid phone card to use if needed during or after a disaster.

* Save important phone numbersto your phone.

* Prepare a family contact sheet. This should include at least one out-of-town contact that may be better able to reach family members in an emergency.

You should also prepare simple plans http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan such as a Family Communications Plan http://www.ready.gov/family-communications and emergency contact card http://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/FamEmePlan_Child_Fields.pdf for your children. Virginia residents can also create a family emergency plan or a business emergency plan atReadyNoVa. http://www.readynova.org/.

Mail Handling Information

For businesses and organizations in the region that operate internal mail facilities or clearinghouses, the U.S. Postal Service has guidance online for handling suspicious mail or packages http://about.usps.com/posters/pos84.pdf. The Department of Homeland Security also has online an extensive guide, Best Practices for Safe Mail Handling https://www.fbiic.gov/public/2010/nov/safe_Mail_Handling.pdf.

Among the guidance:
* Train workers to recognize and handle a suspicious piece of mail.
* Identify a single point of contact to open mail.
* Screen all incoming mail.
* Do not open mail in an unauthorized area.
* Establish procedures for isolating a suspicious package.
* Conduct training sessions for mail room, security and management personnel.
* Conduct unannounced tests for mail center personnel.
* Have appropriate protective wear available for mail handler's use, such as gloves, masks and protective glasses.
* Know the phone number, location, time and response ability of the local HAZMAT team.
More information is online in the best practices guide and the USPS document.

Stay Informed, Be Vigilant, Prepare

This week's events should remind us all that emergencies can and do occur at any time and in any location. The best thing to do to ensure your safety is to take these simple actions stay informed, be vigilant and prepare NOW!