Health and Safety Podcast Transcript: Dec. 15, 2010
Hello, and welcome to the Fairfax County Health and Safety Podcast for Dec. 15, 2010. I’m Jim Person, Fairfax County emergency information officer. Coming up, learn about the importance of creating a fire escape plan, the dangers of winter weather and staying safe during the holidays. Links to topics mentioned in this podcast can be found online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov.
Imagine a fire burning in your home, with your family fast asleep. Smoke and heat intensify quickly. Every second counts. How will everyone escape? Without a plan, you may not know the best route to safety. Create an escape plan and make sure everyone in your home practices it. Plan two routes of escape from every room and designate a meeting place outside of the home. Remember: get out and stay out. For more info, visit the United States Fire Administration at www.usfa.dhs.gov.
While the danger from winter weather varies across the country, regardless of where we live, we’re likely to face some type of severe winter weather at some point. That could mean snow or subfreezing temperatures, as well as strong winds or even ice or heavy rain storms. One of the primary concerns is the winter weather's ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time. The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as “Deceptive Killers” because most deaths are related to the storm indirectly; people die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. It is important to be prepared for winter weather. Visit www.ready.gov/ and click on “be informed” then “winter storms and extreme cold.”
The holiday season is a festive and joyous occasion. However, it's also a dangerous time of the year. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, by taking some easy precautions, residents can greatly reduce their chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.
Here are some tips for holiday lighting:
- Look for the Underwriters Laboratories label on all holiday light sets to ensure UL standards are met.
- Buy lighting sets according to indoor use, outdoor use, or both.
- Before attaching lights, check for fraying wires, damaged sockets or cracked insulation. If defects are found, replace the entire set.
- To minimize fire and shock danger, make sure a bulb is in each socket. If a bulb burns out, leave it in and unplug the light set – then replace the bulb.
- Don't connect more light strings than the manufacturer recommends.
- Keep indoor extension cords and lights away from water.
- All outdoor cords, plugs and sockets must be weatherproof.
- Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heating vent.
- Do not leave your tree up for longer than about two weeks; and keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
- Never put tree branches in a fireplace or wood-burning stove.
- All decorations should be non-flammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heating vents.
- Never put wrapping decorations in a fireplace.
- If you are using an artificial tree, ensure it is flame retardant.
As a final precaution, make sure you have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home, and ensure that you have an escape plan – and practice it.
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.