County Shelter Procedures: What to Do If You Are on The Road in an Emergency

Knowing what to do and where to go during an emergency is one of the basics of emergency preparedness. This is usually straightforward in an office setting, and knowing your evacuation routes, assembly areas, and sheltering locations is a great start. But what if your job involves fieldwork and you spend some or most of your day driving from one place to the next?  

Fires, other man-made disasters, natural disasters, and severe weather are all very real possibilities in Henrico County. Severe weather of some type is almost guaranteed during certain times of the year. However, planning for such emergencies can be difficult, especially for employees who work in the field. 

In this case, communication is vital. 

Always speak with your supervisor to ensure you know and understand emergency notification procedures. For groups using vehicles or handheld radios, that is usually the best and fastest way to communicate emergency information to an entire group. Also, for employees who don’t carry a radio but use a work mobile phone, group messaging can notify larger groups of employees at one time. Either way, make sure you know the procedures in your group.

Once the emergency information is sent out, what’s next? In some situations, the emergency may be restricted to a particular part of the county. For example, a tornado watch may be in effect for the entire county, but often a tornado warning (when a tornado is either physically seen or shows up on radar) might be only for a portion of the county. Employees working in Varina don’t usually need to shelter for a tornado warning in Short Pump. In these situations, listening to local news broadcasts can sometimes give specific information on the affected area. Summer thunderstorms often affect more extensive parts of the county. For mobile employees with outdoor duties, it’s usually best to seek shelter in your vehicle until you get an idea of the storm’s extent and direction. For supervisors, it’s sometimes best to bring these groups back to the shop or their central location for a while.  

What about a significant event – like a tornado – that often gives little to no warning and can bring devastating damage? The first priority would be finding a nearby sturdy building where you can shelter in a basement or on the ground floor, away from doors and windows. Unfortunately, finding an appropriate location during an emergency can be difficult or near impossible. 

Below are recommendations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

  • If you are outdoors, find safe shelter right away.
  • If you can safely get to a sturdy building, do so immediately.
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You’re safe in a low, flat location.
  • Watch out for flying debris that can cause injury or death.
  • Use your arms to protect your head and neck.

If no building is available, there is no single recommendation for how to protect yourself best. However, new research shows that larger, more stable vehicles can often be an acceptable “last resort” during weather emergencies. If you must shelter in your vehicle, always keep your seatbelt fastened, avoid bridges and overpasses, and protect your head and neck. 

If no vehicle is available, find a low-lying area like a ditch (as long as there is no flooding expected), lay down on your stomach, and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands. If one is available, protect yourself with a heavy jacket, blanket, or other similar items.

Because there are numerous county facilities, you may be near one and not even know it. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the location of fire stations, libraries, and county offices. While there is no formal procedure for seeking shelter in a county facility, in an actual emergency, you may need to. Regardless of the location, make sure not to block emergency vehicles or disrupt essential services.  

As with any safety issue, communication is vital. Before going out for the day, ensure you’re familiar with your group’s communication methods. Keep your eyes open for potential shelter locations where you frequently work. And if you are forced to shelter, let a supervisor know as soon as it is safe to do so.   

If you’re looking for additional information on severe weather and sheltering, check out, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, or the National Weather Service websites.

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Sun Safety: Protect Your Skin

Summer is full of outdoor activities. So, of course, you probably put sunscreen on yourself and your kids when you go to the pool or the beach. But do you know you should protect your skin with more than just sunscreen anytime you’re outside?

Sun protection is essential all year round, and it’s best to use several different kinds. When you’re working in the yard, watching a ballgame, or taking an afternoon walk, make sun safety an everyday habit so you can avoid sunburn and lower your chance of getting skin cancer.

Here are some tips to help make sure you and your family stay sun-safe:

Why is sun protection so important? Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays causes most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer. Protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning to lower your skin cancer risk. Here are some skin cancer fast facts to be mindful of:

  • Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and includes different types.
  • The sun’s UV rays can damage unprotected skin in as little as 15 minutes.
  • Even if it’s cool and cloudy, you still need protection. UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage.
  • Anyone can get skin cancer, but some things put you at higher risk.
  • The most common signs of skin cancer are changes on your skin, such as a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in a mole.

Publication Date: 4/25/2017

Last Updated: 5/23/2017

Attribution: Content provided and maintained by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Please see our system usage guidelines and disclaimer.


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Senior Safety Day

Attend EngAGE’s Senior Safety Day that will be hosted at the Henrico County Training Center on September 9, 2021 from 9 am until 2 pm. This event will include presentations from the Henrico Police Division, Henrico Division of Fire, Bremo Pharmacy, Virginia GrandDriver, and the Henrico Sheriff’s Office.

Topics will include self-defense for persons with limited mobility, medication safety, driving safety, cognitive safety in the community, fire safety, and how to avoid frauds and scams.

Registration for this event is required due to lunch being provided for all participants.

To register please contact Emily Hoyt, the Advocate for the Aging at (804)-501-5065 or [email protected]

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Statewide Tornado Drill

Virginia’s annual statewide tornado drill for 2020 will take place on Tuesday, March 17, at 9:45 AM EST. Every school, business, work place, and family across the state is strongly encouraged to participate in the statewide tornado drill.

Virginia 2020 Severe Weather Preparedness Week

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