Health and Safety Podcast Transcript: May 1, 2013

Hello, and welcome to the Fairfax County Health and Safety Podcast for May 1, 2013. I’m Jim Person, Fairfax County emergency information officer. Coming up, learn about grilling safely, this year’s hurricane forecast and how you can save money during Virginia’s sales tax holiday, and Arson Awareness Week. Links to topics mentioned in this podcast can be found online at

As the grilling or barbeque season arrives, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department wants to remind residents that grill fires cause an estimated $37 million in property loss each year nationwide, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Almost half (49 percent) of grill fires on residential properties occur from 5 to 8 p.m. Thirty-two percent of all grill fires occur in the months of May, June, July and August. Grills, hibachis and barbeques on residential properties continue to be a high fire risk and, on average, result in more injuries and slightly higher dollar losses when compared to all other fires. It is crucial that each person diligently practice fire safety when cooking or grilling outside. Please remember these safety tips:

  • Grills should be placed at least 15 feet from any home, building, or combustibles to ensure adequate air circulation.

  • Charcoal must be kept dry. Wet charcoal can spontaneously ignite. Spare propane bottles should be stored outside away from the home. A backyard shed is a good place.

  • Keep children and pets away from the grill. Grills continue to give off heat long after cooking has stopped.

  • Never place hot ashes in paper or plastic bags or containers. Only use metal containers for hot ashes.

  • Use Underwriters Laboratories (UL) approved electrical starters in place of lighter fluid.

  • Never use a gas or charcoal fueled grill on apartment or condominium balconies, doing so is against the law. However, electric grills listed by a recognized testing authority may be used on balconies.

Learn more from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department at


In their latest forecast, the Colorado State University Department of Atmospheric Science anticipates that the 2013 Atlantic basin hurricane season will have enhanced activity. They note that the tropical Atlantic has warmed over the past several months, the chances of an El Niño event this summer and fall are unlikely and they predict an above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean.


It’s smart to get ready for hurricane and flash flooding season, which arrives June 1. And it’s smart to save money. You can do both by shopping for such products as batteries, food storage containers, generators, first-aid kits, bottled water, radios and more during Virginia’s Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday May 25-31. When you do, you won’t pay sales tax on many useful products that cost up to $60 or on generators costing $1,000 or less. That’s a savings of 5 percent. A complete list of exempt items is available at Purchasing supplies is important, but it’s critical to make a family emergency plan. Protect your family now by making a plan. It’s free, it’s simple and it will make a big difference. Read more about hurricanes at and make your family plan at


This year’s Arson Awareness Week theme is “Reducing Residential Arson.” The goal for this year’s Arson Awareness Week, May 5-11, is to provide residents with strategies to combat arson in their neighborhoods. Check out important tools and tips to reduce residential arson online at

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 And remember, if you have a police, fire or medical emergency, call 9-1-1. For non-emergency needs, call 703-691-2131.

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

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