Health and Safety Podcast Transcript: Dec. 1, 2010
Hello, and welcome to the Fairfax County Health and Safety Podcast for Dec. 1, 2010. I’m Jim Person, Fairfax County emergency information officer. Coming up, learn about cooking safety, keeping your family safe around holiday decorations, the Atlantic hurricane season and alternative heating sources. Links to topics mentioned in this podcast can be found online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov.
Many families gather in the kitchen to spend time together, but it can be one of the most hazardous rooms in the house if you don't practice safe cooking behaviors. Cooking equipment – most often a range or stovetop – is the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries in the United States. Cooking equipment is also the leading cause of unreported fires and associated injuries. It's a recipe for serious injury or even death to wear loose clothing (especially hanging sleeves), walk away from a cooking pot on the stove or leave flammable materials, such as potholders or paper towels, around the stove. Whether you are cooking the family holiday dinner or a snack for the children, practicing safe cooking behaviors will help keep you and your family safe.
As we approach the holiday decorating season, data from the U.S. Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Association estimates there are 250 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 170 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting each year. Together, these fires resulted in 20 deaths and 45 injuries. If you’re putting up a holiday tree, do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. And be sure to keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. More information is online at the U.S. Fire Administration website, www.usfa.dhs.gov.
According to NOAA the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, which ended Nov. 30, was one of the busiest on record. In the Atlantic Basin a total of 19 named storms formed – tied for third highest on record. Of those, 12 became hurricanes – tied for second highest on record. An average Atlantic season produces 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. While this hurricane season may be over, disasters are not limited to hurricanes or a specific time of year. Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere, ranging from natural disasters such as flooding, tornadoes and hurricanes, to events such as power outages. If you haven’t taken the steps yet to be prepared, visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov to learn more, including how to put together an emergency supply kit, develop a family communications plan and stay informed about local hazards.
Finally, cold weather is upon us, and these cooler temperatures cause many of us to seek out alternative sources to heat our home and keep warm. Alternate heating sources are a major contributing factor in residential fires. Remember these safety tips:
- Keep at least 3 feet of clearance between your heat source and anything combustible.
- Do not keep or store combustible materials in closed areas or near a heat source.
- Never leave a heater on when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep, and never leave children or pets unattended near heating sources.
- If you use an electric heater, be careful not to overload the electrical circuit.
- Avoid using electrical heaters in bathrooms as they may come in contact with water.
- Only use heaters that have been tested to the latest safety standards and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). These heaters will have the most up-to-date safety features, such as automatic shut-offs.
- Do not use a range or oven as an alternate heating source.
- Do not use fuel-burning appliances without the proper room ventilation.
- Never fill a kerosene heater while it is in operation or hot. Avoid overfilling.
That’s it for this edition of the Fairfax County Health and Safety Podcast, produced by the Fairfax County, Virginia government. Thanks for listening. Additional information about health and safety topics and emergency preparedness may be found online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov. And remember, if you have a police, fire or medical emergency, call 9-1-1. For non-emergency needs, call 703-691-2131.