To sign up for emergency alerts:
Emergency Alerts and Notifications
During a major emergency or disaster, Prince William County government posts information in the following places:
- County Emergency Information Portal
- Prince William TV Channel (Comcast Channel 23 and Verizon Channel 37)
- County Social Media Pages on Facebook and Twitter
- The Prince William Community Alert Network (PWCAN) is an emergency notification system used by Prince William County government to send emergency alerts, non-emergency updates, as well as automated weather notifications to you through voice calls, texts, and/or emails before, during, and after a major crisis. This highly customizable system allows you to receive only those alerts that you are interested in receiving (examples include: severe weather watches & warnings, active shooter, traffic alerts, etc.). You can stop receiving alerts by texting 'STOP' to 888-777 anytime. For more information and to register, go to www.pwcgov.org/pwcan. Please note that Prince William County Schools uses a separate alerting system.
You may also receive alerts from authorities in the following ways:
- Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are emergency alerts sent by authorities to wireless devices (predominantly cell phones).
- NOAA Weather Radios can be programmed to broadcast alerts about all types of hazards for your specific area
- Local television and radio stations often provide information before, during, and after disasters. WTOP (FM 103.5 and AM 1500), and WMAL (FM 105.9 and AM 630) are the designated Emergency Broadcast Stations for this area. Authorities will use these and other media sources to broadcast emergency alerts and test alerts through the EAS (Emergency Alerting System).
You should look for local, up-to-date information and follow instructions from local officials about:
- Weather watches and warnings
- How to safely stay where you are
- Evacuation orders
- Shelter openings and locations
- Where to get help
- Major road closures
Should You Stay or Go?
Depending on the situation, local officials may tell you to stay where you are and take steps to protect yourself, or you may be told to leave the area immediately. Being informed about your options is critical to being prepared.
If you are able to stay in your home:
- Gather your emergency supplies
- Check for damage to your home
- Look for fire or other electrical hazards. Spilled bleach, gasoline or other hazardous products can produce deadly fumes.
- Know how to shut off any damaged utilities
- Check in with your emergency contact
- Check on your neighbors
Officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk. If you have to evacuate the area:
- Listen carefully and follow directions
- Shut off water and electricity but leave natural gas on unless officials advise you to turn it off
- Wear clothing that will protect you such as long-sleeve shirts, long pants and sturdy shoes
- Take any special supplies you may need such as medications, special food, or assistive device.
- Take a collar, harness, identification tags, vaccination records, medications, veterinarian contact and food for your service animal or pet
- If you are driving, make sure you have local maps and a full fuel tank
- Listen to local radio stations for traffic information
- Lock your home when you leave
- Notify your emergency contact of your plans
Be Prepared to evacuate if:
- Your area is without power for an extended period of time
- Flood water is rising
- Your home has been severely damaged
Know the Threats and Hazards
All-hazards planning means being prepared for any kind of disaster that might strike your community. Common threats include natural hazards like storms and severe weather, human-caused hazards like civil disorders or terrorism and technical hazards like and industrial or transportation incident.
While technical and human-caused hazards are fairly unpredictable, Prince William County experiences severe weather events every year. Winter storms, flash floods and summer thunderstorms are common occurrences. Learn more by exploring the "Natural Disasters" and "Man Made Disasters" sections to the left.
Look around your community. Are you near an interstate or railroad crossing where a hazardous material spill could happen? Does your home flood every time it rains? Do you live near a dam? Take time to learn about the kinds of hazards you might face and take the necessary actions to protect yourself, your family, and your property.