News to Use Podcast Transcript: November 28, 2012

Fairfax County Podcasts 

Good day, and welcome to the Fairfax County News to Use podcast for November 28, 2012. Coming up, learn about flu season, firewood and the emerald ash borer, a mental health first-aid class, properly disposing of fats, oils and grease and holiday shopping safety tips. Links to topics mentioned in this podcast can be found online at

As winter approaches, more and more people start to feel like they’re coming down with “something.” With flu season just around the corner, how do you know if you have the flu or the common cold? Both have similar symptoms, so it can be hard to tell the difference. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold. Symptoms such as fever, body aches, tiredness and cough are more common and intense with the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Your health care provider can give you a test within the first few days of your illness to determine whether or not you have the flu. If you have been diagnosed with the flu you should stay home. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about over-the-counter and prescription medications to ease flu symptoms and help you feel better faster. And remember, the best protection against the flu is the flu vaccine.


Having a roaring fire during the holidays can be fun, but remember that it is against the law to transport firewood outside quarantine areas. Use firewood from local sources; remember “Burn it where you buy it.” Firewood may carry the emerald ash borer, an insect that is a serious threat to ash trees in the county. These insects, while not native to this country, have killed more than 25 million ash trees in the U.S. For more on the emerald ash borer, contact the Fairfax County Forest Pest Branch at 703-324-5304, TTY 711, or online at


Mental Health First Aid is a two-day course that teaches a five step action plan to offer initial help to people with the signs and symptoms of a mental illness or in crisis and connect them with the appropriate professional, peer, social or self-help care. Anyone can take the 12-hour Mental Health First-aid certification course. There is a $25 fee for materials. Someone you know could be experiencing a mental illness or crisis. You can help them. Learn more at


FOG – or Fats, Oils and Grease – comes from cooking oil, meat, sauce, gravy, mayonnaise, butter, ice cream and soups – all those delicious things we love to eat during the holidays but are not good for our household drains. FOG may be liquid or solid and may become thick and sticky as it cools in the underground sanitary sewer. This can cause a blockage in the sanitary sewer line and a backup into homes and streets. Spend your time during the holidays with family and friends – not with a plumber. Save money and help the environment by disposing of all fats, oils and grease in a can. Allow the can and its contents to cool, add an absorbent like kitty litter or a paper towel and then throw it out with your regular trash. Your drains will appreciate it. Learn more at


The National Crime Prevention Council suggests having a personal safety plan for holiday shopping this year to protect your family and your purchased items:

  • Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or checkbook. An enterprising thief would love to “shoulder surf” to get your account information.

  • Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket to deter pickpockets.

  • Don’t buy more items than you can carry. Plan ahead by taking a friend or ask a store employee to help carry your packages to the car.

  • Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.

  • Do not leave packages visible in your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home.

  • If you are shopping with children, make a plan in case you get separated. Select a central meeting place and make sure they know they can ask mall personnel or store security employees if they need help.

Learn more at and

That’s all for this News to Use podcast. Thanks for listening. For more information about the topics in this podcast and for continuous news updates, visit You may also call 703-FAIRFAX, that’s 703-324-7329, weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. News to Use is produced by the Fairfax County, Virginia, government.  

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