Health and Safety Podcast Transcript: Dec. 15, 2009

Fairfax County Podcasts 

Hello, and welcome to the Fairfax County Health and Safety Podcast for Dec. 15, 2009. I’m Jim Person, Fairfax County emergency information officer. Coming up, learn about holiday lighting, decorating safety and general preparedness information. Links to topics mentioned in this podcast can be found online at Links to topics mentioned in this podcast can be found online at 


The festive and joyous holiday season is also a dangerous part of the year; more than 400 lives are lost, more than 1,600 injuries occur, and there is more than $990 million in property damage. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, taking simple, common-sense, life saving steps can help ensure a safe and happy holiday and greatly reduce the chances of becoming a holiday fire casualty.

For holiday lighting:

  • Look for 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.

When decorating:

  • Don’t place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heating vent.
  • Do not put up your tree too early or leave it up for longer than about two weeks.
  • 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 you have an escape plan – and practice it. 

For more holiday safety information, visit the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Web page at


Nov. 30 marked the official end of the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane season that began June 1.  Although it was a quiet season along the Atlantic coast, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to urge residents across the country to stay prepared, as disasters are not limited to hurricanes or a specific time of year – they can occur anytime, anywhere.


Log on to to learn about the few simple steps you can take to get prepared for any emergency. Some of those steps include, gathering a preparedness kit including a three-day supply of food and water, blankets and first-aid kits for your home and car, ensuring your family preparedness plan and contacts are up to date; rehearsing your plan and learning about emergency plans that have been established in Fairfax County and Virginia.

For more emergency preparedness information, contact the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management at 571-350-1000 or 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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