Transcript Health and Safety Podcast

Fairfax County Podcasts

Feb. 13, 2019


Hello, and welcome to the Fairfax County Health and Safety Podcast. I’m your host Jim Person. Coming up, learn about space heater safety, jury duty scams, the “Sink It or Soak It” campaign, fireplace ashes and pet safety during winter. Links to topics mentioned in this podcast can be found online at


According to the United States Fire Administration, space heaters cause one-third of home heating fires and four out of five home heating fire deaths. Protect your family. If you are heating your home with a space heater, remember to keep space heaters on a solid, flat surface and keep them at least 3 feet from things that can burn. Check your space heater for cracked or damaged cords and plugs. Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets, don’t use an extension cord or power strip. For more information and free fire-safety resources, visit


Jury duty scam artists are calling around. Here’s how they work and what you should know. The scam: A caller identifies themselves as either a Sheriff's deputy or a local police officer. They inform you that you missed jury duty and that you now owe a fine of several hundred dollars. You are then threatened with arrest if you do not pay the fine. They may even ask you to obtain a Green Dot Money Pak Card and then call back in order to pay the fine. Please remember — this is a scam! Fairfax County courts, police or sheriff’s officers will never call you and ask you to give your bank account number, credit card number, Social Security number or any kind of money card. If you have any questions or concerns, please call the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s office at 703 246-4111 or the police non-emergency line at 703-246-2131.


Fairfax County’s Fire and Rescue Department urges all residents who smoke to “Sink It or Soak It!” and prevent careless fires! Please keep in mind these safety tips for the proper disposal of smoking materials.

  • Never dispose of cigarette butts in potted planting soil. The soil, when it gets too dry, can become highly flammable.
  • Never flick cigarettes into mulch or shrubbery. Dispose of them in a suitable ashtray or bucket with sand. Ensure designated outside smoking areas have an appropriate fireproof container, ashtray or bucket.
  • Completely douse butts and ashes with water before throwing them away, as they can smolder and cause a fire.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Provide large, deep ashtrays with a center support for smokers. Check furniture for any dropped ashes before going to bed. Empty ashes into a fireproof container with water and sand.
  • Keep smoking materials away from anything that can burn (i.e., mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture, draperies, etc.).
  • Never smoke in a home where oxygen is being used.
  • If you smoke, choose fire-safe cigarettes. They are less likely to cause fires.
  • To prevent a deadly cigarette fire, you must be alert. You won’t be if you are sleepy, have been drinking or have taken medicine or other drugs.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of children’s sight and reach.


Recently, fire investigators determined that an accidental Herndon area fire was caused by the improper disposal of fireplace ashes in a trash bag. Please remember to be cautious and keep safety in mind when handling fireplace ashes. First, do not discard your ashes into any combustible container such as a paper or plastic bag, a cardboard box or a plastic trash can. In addition:

  • Do not place ash containers on decks, porches or in garages.
  • Put ashes into a non-combustible metal container with a lid.
  • Pour water into the container to make sure the ashes are cool.
  • Keep your can outside the home, away from your fireplace or stove and anything combustible.
  • Teach all family members to be safe with ashes from your fireplace or wood stove.
  • Ashes can stay hot for several days. Follow the steps above even when you wait several days to remove the ashes from the fireplace.

Get more life safety information from the Fire and Rescue Department online at


While the weather lately has been up and down, we have recently experienced bitterly cold temperatures. With winter weeks still ahead, keep in mind that if it's too cold for you, your pet is likely cold as well.

  • Shorten walks on cold days and bundle pets up in sweaters and booties when outside.
  • Wipe and dry paws and stomach after walks to remove de-icers and rock salt that could irritate the skin.
  • Check paws after time outside for cracking and bleeding that indicates cold-related injuries.
  • Outdoor pets also need more food in the winter — it takes a lot of energy to stay warm in cold weather!
  • And be sure to include your pet in your family’s winter emergency plans.

If you suspect animal neglect or witness unsatisfactory conditions for pets, please speak out. Voice your concerns to the pet owner or alert animal protection police at 703-691-2131.


Finally, Fairfax County's free alert system sends you important information during an emergency, helps you navigate your commute and shares community information. You also can customize your Fairfax Alerts to receive the information pertinent to you. Don't miss this important information!  Sign up today for Fairfax Alerts at  


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.