Health and Safety Podcast Transcript: Oct. 16, 2013


Hello, and welcome to the Fairfax County Health and Safety Podcast. I’m Jim Person, Fairfax County emergency information officer. Coming up, learn about carbon monoxide poisoning and what you can do to be safe, emergency preparedness presentations and Halloween safety. Links to topics mentioned in this podcast can be found online at


Carbon Monoxide – or CO – is an invisible, odorless, tasteless, toxic gas. It causes about 300 accidental fatalities in homes each year; thousands more are treated in hospitals for CO poisoning. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning exposure include headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and confused thinking. Without treatment, the victim will lose consciousness and possibly their life. Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete combustion of fuels. Common carbon monoxide causes include:

  • Faulty gas or oil furnaces and water heaters.

  • Using a generator inside or too close to windows.

  • Cracked chimney flues and closing the fireplace damper before the fire is completely out.

  • Indoor use of charcoal grills or use of a gas oven or range to warm a room.

  • Running a car in an enclosed area.

Be sure to install CO alarms to give your family a warning if CO is building up in your house. Carbon Monoxide alarms should be located on every floor and mounted according to the manufacturer's instructions. If the alarm goes off, everyone should get out of the house at once and call 9-1-1 from a neighbor's house. Do not ventilate your house by opening doors and windows. When first responders arrive, they will obtain CO readings in different areas of your home to determine the source of the leak. If you have questions about your gas furnaces or appliance, contact your gas company. If your CO alarm gives a warning signal, get out of the house and call 9-1-1. Learn more from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, online at

The Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management is available to deliver emergency preparedness presentations to community organizations and homeowners associations. If interested, contact OEM at 571-350-1000, TTY 711, or via email at for more information and to schedule your meeting.


Ghosts, goblins and ghouls will soon be coming out all over the area as the Halloween season is upon us. Traditional jack-o-lanterns with candles are a tremendous fire hazard.  A better way to light up your jack-o-lantern is to use a small string of holiday lights. Additionally, small battery-powered candles can be used. If your children are preparing to go trick-or-treating, take these safety precautions:

  • Make sure all costumes are flame retardant.

  • Make sure your children can see and be seen. Expand the eye holes in commercial masks to improve peripheral vision. Add reflective tape to costumes to make them more visible to motorists.

  • Ensure that each trick-or-treater has a working flashlight. Kids should never carry candles when they are trick-or-treating.

  • Tell children to remove their masks and look both ways before they cross a street.

  • Never let a group of children trick-or-treat alone. Adult supervision is a safety “must” during Halloween.

  • Stay away from candles and jack-o’-lanterns that may be on steps and porches.  Costumes could catch fire if children get too close.

Let’s keep this year’s Halloween celebration safe and make it a treat… not a trick!


Finally be sure to subscribe by RSS or email to the emergency information blog at You’ll receive the latest preparedness information as well as life-safety news during emergency events affecting Fairfax County.

That’s it for this edition of the Fairfax County Health and Safety Podcast, produced by the Fairfax County, Va., 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.

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