Get Ready for Winter Weather
Fairfax County Office of Public
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935, FAX 703-324-2010
Dec. 6, 2004
Get Ready for Winter Weather
This year’s winter preparedness campaign from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management is “Preparedness: The Cure for the Commonwealth Cold.” The Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management’s “Storm Ready Program” is gearing up for the upcoming winter weather.
This year’s winter season could produce storms that cause power outages. Should this happen, many county residents will turn to a generator or non-electric heat source such as a fireplace, wood stove, or a kerosene or propane heater in order to stay warm indoors. However, residents should be aware of the potential hazards in using these alternative heat sources and follow manufacturer’s instructions, ventilate properly and guard against fire.
In the event of a power outage, persons who plan to use a generator or
alternative heat source should follow these recommendations:
• Fireplace and wood stove chimneys should be inspected annually and cleaned if necessary. They often build up creosote, the residue left behind by burning wood. Creosote is flammable and needs to be professionally removed periodically.
• Keep kerosene and propane heaters at least three feet away from furniture, blankets and other flammable objects. Never set the heater on a chair or table. It should sit only on an uncarpeted floor. Never substitute one type of fuel for another. Keep an eye on your heater at all times while it is running. Shut it off before you go to bed or when you leave the house. And, wait for the heater to cool before refueling it. Kerosene has a low flash point and might cause a fire if it comes into contact with a hot surface.
• Generators should always be operated outdoors. They produce carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas that is toxic and causes poisoning or death. Do not operate generators in any space that is enclosed or partially enclosed like a garage, crawl space or basement. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not provide enough ventilation to prevent the build-up of carbon monoxide gas. Portable generators should have a canopy-like cover to keep them dry and away from rain or snow. Use only outdoor-rated extension cords that are properly rated for the specific generator. Extension cords should be plugged directly into the generator.
The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department also reminds residents
that the improper use of candles can result in catastrophe. To avoid the
dangers of fire while burning candles, please follow the safety
• Never leave candles unattended
• Keep all combustible materials away from open flames
• Do not burn candles near windows or doorways
• Place candles in glass or ceramic containers
• Place candles on a flat, sturdy surface
• Never leave candles burning when children or pets are present
For more information about winter weather preparedness, including tips for winter travel and assembling a winter travel kit for your car, visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management Web site at www.vaemergency.com.
Additional emergency information, including telephone numbers and links to useful Web sites such as the National Weather Service, can be found on the Fairfax County emergency information Web page at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency. Fire safety information can be found on the county Fire and Rescue Web page at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fire or by calling the Fire and Rescue Department’s Public Information and Life Safety Education section at 703-246-3801, TTY 703-385-4419.
During times of emergency or severe weather,
residents may call the Fairfax County Government Emergency Information
Line at 703-817-7771, TTY 711, watch the county government cable Channel
16 or visit the county Web site (www.fairfaxcounty.gov) for updated