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Security and law enforcement exercises such as Solid Curtain/Citadel Shield and the current HURREX give everyone an opportunity to plan for an emergency. Reviewing checklists on appropriate preparations is a good refresher for situations we don't often experience.

Communications, however, are a priority every day. Of all the advances that have been made over the years, perhaps communications have come the farthest. The term "breaking news" which used to require a telegram, radio announcement or television interruption now blasts straight to your cell phone via applications for thousands of news and weather organizations.

Most importantly, how do you stay updated on information that truly relates to you - road conditions, severe weather alerts and emergency situations that affect you and your family while at home or at work? Here is information on keeping yourself informed.

County Alerts

Charles County provides the Charles County Citizen Notification Service. Enrollment is free and offers the option of receiving messages by email, text or pager. Once you have listed all devices, you have the option of receiving alerts from Charles County Public Schools, the Charles County Sheriff's Office, Emergency Services, Fiscal and Administrative Departments, Health Department, Human Resources, and Public Works. Within each department are specialized categories that allow you to choose messages that provide you with the info you need.

Charles County alert is highly recommended for anyone who uses the Harry Nice Bridge on a regular basis, as they provide alerts to any traffic interruptions on the bridge. Visit www.charlescountycns.com to enroll.

King George County [bold] offers the KG Alert system. Enrollment is free and messages can be sent to email, Blackberry, cell and smart phones and pagers. Once device information has been entered, users can click the "My Alert" tab and choose to receive alerts directed at Dahlgren or King George residents; information on county meetings and county organizations such as Dahlgren Sharks Swim Team, King George Little League, L.E. Smoot Library, Parks and Recreation, Potomac Raiders Swim Team and the King George YMCA.

KG Alert users can also choose to receive information from King George County Schools, and there is an option to choose information from the King George County Service Authority directed to specific subdivisions.

Base employees can receive information from their specific command or alerts that affect all base employees. There is also the option to receive information on volunteer opportunities in the county. For King George community alerts, visit www.kgalert.com.

Base Alerts

NSASP provides emergency information updates to NMCI computer users through the Wide Area Alert Network (WAAN). You may recognize these alerts as pop-up messages that appear on your computer screen, often accompanied by some type of warning signal. These messages will be received by everyone logged on to an NMCI computer, but it's possible to expand the way you receive this information.

Naval District Washington has asked that all employees go into the WAAN system and register their work email and work phone numbers to receive messages. This can be especially important in the case of an emergent event, such as a tornado or a shelter-in-place order, in case there is a delay in the delivery of an on-screen message.

Users may also choose to register their personal email and cell phone number for text messages. This was especially helpful to many employees during the recent closure of the Williams Creek Bridge. Many employees received information on their personal cell phone that allowed them to travel a different route to work during water main repairs on Dahlgren Road.

To register your devices for the WAAN system, contact the Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP) Public Affairs office at (540) 653-8153 or (866) 359-5540 for a link to access the system.

It should also be noted that NSASP Public Affairs staff has the ability to post KG Alert messages, providing another opportunity for Naval Support Facility Dahlgren employees to receive base information promptly.

Base employees can also contact the base status phone lines for Dahlgren and Indian Head. These lines are updated when necessary with any changes to base status. At Dahlgren, employees can call (540) 653-3339 or (866) 359-5540. At Indian Head, employees should call (301) 744-4000 or (866) 359-5540.

Employees may also hear warning tones from the Giant Voice systems positioned at Dahlgren and Indian Head. The message from Giant Voice is always the same - if you're out, get in. Get inside, get notified. Seek shelter and use your communications devices to find updated information on the next steps to take. Don't ever go outside to hear Giant Voice - if it sounds, it means you should be inside taking shelter.

Employee Accountability

In the event of an emergency that requires an evacuation, the Navy developed the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS). NFAAS standardizes a method for the Navy to account, manage and monitor the recovery process for personnel and their families affected or scattered by a wide-spread catastrophic event. The NFAAS provides valuable information to all levels of the Navy chain of command, allowing commanders to make strategic decisions which facilitate a return to stability.

All military members are required and civilians are encouraged to visit https://nfda.navyfamily.navy.mil/index.jsp and verify that information listed for you and your family is correct. Click the "My Info" tab of each person's "Full Profile." Each of these steps should be performed on the "Contact Information" section and the "Family Member Info" section.

Review address and contact (email/phone) information (on the "Contact Information" Section and the "Family Member Info" Section). If everything is correct, click the "Verify Info as Current" button. Please complete this step for all family members. If the information is incorrect, please click the "Edit" button and correct the information and save it. (Please make corrections for all family members).

Ensuring that your contact info is correct in NFAAS will help your command know that you and your family are safe.

Having the opportunity to receive information that can protect the safety of you and your family is a great opportunity. Receiving it is up to you. Find the options that are best for you and enroll today!