Top Five Summer Home Hazards Highlighted During Building Safety Week

Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
Contact: Merni Fitzgerald, Director of Public Affairs
703-324-3187, TTY 711, Fax 703-324-2010
Media Pager: 703-324-NEWS (6397)

April 28, 2008

Top Five Summer Home Hazards Highlighted During Building Safety Week

On May 5-11, Fairfax County, along with five other Northern Virginia governments, will bring safety home as part of International Building Safety Week. County, city and town officials will teach the public how to avoid the top five hazards around the home during the summer.

Officials will be at five Home Depot stores to take questions from residents on May 3-4. They will staff information booths from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the following stores: 12275 Price Club Plaza, Fairfax; 6201 Arlington Blvd., Fairfax; 3201 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax; 1651 Reston Parkway, Reston; 400 S. Pickett St., Alexandria; and 7710 Richmond Highway, Alexandria. They will answer questions about building permits, code requirements and safety in the home.

This is a collaborative effort by Fairfax County; Arlington County; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church; and the town of Herndon

These are the top five summer safety hazards, and residents should check to see if their homes comply with building codes to prevent injuries:

  • Pool and hot tub drains: Building codes require pool and hot tub drains to have a cover or grate to protect from entrapment or suction. Without the cover, hair or body parts may be trapped, causing serious injury or drowning.
  • Pool fences and alarms: There should be at least a four-foot-high fence around pools holding more than 24 inches of water. Gates must be self-closing and self-latching, and doors with direct access to pools must have alarms.
  • Decks: Decks can collapse if they are improperly built, repaired or maintained. Look for loose, missing or rusting hardware; missing, damaged or loose support beams and planking; and swaying or unstable decks.
  • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI): All outdoor electrical circuits require GFCI protection. GFCIs automatically turn off the power to the outlet when an electrical fault occurs, to protect against electrical shock from a faulty appliance or power tool.
  • Grills: Charcoal and gas grills shouldn’t be used close to combustible materials. Keep grills away from siding, deck railings, eaves, overhead power lines and overhanging branches.

Homes are the site for 50 percent of accidental injuries — and most can be prevented, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

With many swimming pools set to open in May, Fairfax County is also putting a spotlight on pool and hot tub safety.

Today, the county gave its 11th annual Building Safety Community Partnership Award to Nancy Baker of McLean. Her exceptional accomplishments led to changes in the building code and a new federal law that requires drains on pools and hot tubs be configured to protect swimmers from entrapment.

She became a national advocate for pool safety after her daughter drowned when the suction from a hot tub drain trapped her underwater. Virginia Graeme Baker was the 7-year-old granddaughter of former U.S. secretary of state James A. Baker III. The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act became federal law in December 2007.

As a kickoff to the safety week, Northern Virginia building officials are sponsoring a presentation on Friday, May 2, at 9 a.m. at the Lee Center, 1800 Jefferson Street, Alexandria. The public is invited to this free event, but reservations are required. A free continental breakfast will be served.

The theme is “Green Building Technologies,” and the event focuses attention on environmental sustainability. Three distinguished speakers will present: Corey Enck, U.S. Green Buildings Council; Richard Kuchnicki, International Code Council; and Chris Garwood, architectural firm of Davis, Carter and Scott.

For more information about building week activities, reservations for the May 2 presentation or to schedule a presentation about safe home construction or repair, call the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services’ Land Development Services Division at 703-324-1910, TTY 703-324-1877.


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