Nov. 29, 2023
Hello, and welcome to the Fairfax County Health and Safety Podcast. Coming up, learn about the Fairfax County Hypothermia Prevention Program, responsible gun ownership and firearm safety, and online shopping safety tips. Links to topics mentioned in this podcast can be found online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov.
Since 2005, the Fairfax County Hypothermia Prevention Program has prevented death and serious injuries among people experiencing homelessness by ensuring that no one must sleep outside during the winter months. This program – available to any adult in need of immediate shelter – provides warm shelter, food, and other supportive services to help connect guests to a variety of basic needs such as clothing, employment, housing, and more. It remains a highly effective partnership between government, nonprofits, and the faith community. The program will open every day, countywide on Dec. 1, and ends March 31, 2024. Overflow shelter capacity in the year-round adult shelters began November 15. Before that date, shelters activated overflow capacity during extreme weather events and unseasonably low temperatures. Overflow shelter capacity is limited. Sign up for Fairfax Alerts, specifically “Homelessness Cooling and Heating Resources,” for information on overflow activation. For more information on the county's Hypothermia Prevention Program, visit fairfaxcounty.gov and search, "hypothermia prevention program."
As the holiday season approaches, the Fairfax County Police Department emphasizes the crucial importance of responsible gun ownership and firearm safety within our community. This year, Police are proud to partner with the Fairfax County Circuit Court to provide new concealed carry permit applicants a gun lock. This gun lock will be given, free of charge, to applicants to ensure they have the proper equipment to secure their firearm. If you already have a permit for concealed carry, all our police stations have Crime Prevention Officers who can provide you with a free gun lock if you are a current or new firearm owner. Get more details on the Police blog,
Speaking of guns, the Police Department also offers these ways you can practice gun safety.
- Secure Your Firearms: If you own firearms, it’s crucial to store them securely, especially when family and friends gather at your home. Unintentional access to firearms by children or unauthorized users can lead to tragic accidents. You can do this by ensuring that your firearms are unloaded and locked in a secure safe, always storing ammunition separate from your firearm, treating every firearm as if it’s loaded, and always keeping the muzzle of any firearm pointed in a safe direction.
- Ensure that everyone in your household, especially children, understands the basics of firearm safety. Teach them to treat every firearm as if it is loaded and to immediately inform an adult if they come across an unattended firearm.
- Always follow proper handling procedures when using firearms. Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot, and be aware of your target and what lies beyond it.
- Never mix alcohol or drugs with firearms. Keep firearms away from situations where impaired judgment could lead to dangerous accidents.
The holiday season is also an excellent time to consider removing unwanted or unused firearms from your home. If you are looking to get rid of a firearm, you can bring the firearm to any of our eight police stations. Returning your unwanted firearms helps reduce the risk of accidents or stolen firearms in our community. For more information on this program, search “Disposal of Unwanted Firearms and Ammunition” at fairfaxcounty.gov.
It's the holiday shopping season and online marketplaces offer a convenient way to purchase items, but there are steps to ensure that a good deal isn’t a scam. Here’s some safety tips to consider when buying and selling from online marketplaces.
- Meet in a public place: Always arrange to meet the seller or buyer in a safe, public location, such as a coffee shop, shopping center or police station parking lot. Several of our Police District Stations offer safe exchange zones for online purchases. Avoid secluded areas or inviting strangers to your home.
- Bring a friend: Whenever possible, bring a friend or family member with you when meeting a seller or buyer. Having someone else present can deter potential scams or unsafe situations.
- Whenever possible, complete the transaction during daylight hours.
- Inspect the item thoroughly: Before finalizing the purchase, carefully inspect the item you’re interested in. Check to ensure that it is the item you intended to purchase.
- Trust your instincts: If the seller or buyer seems suspicious, the item appears too good to be true, or you feel uncomfortable during the transaction, trust your instincts and consider walking away.
- Verify the seller’s identity: Before meeting, ask the seller or buyer for their name and contact information. Cross-reference this information with their social media profile or other online platforms to ensure they are who they claim to be.
- Do not share personal information: Avoid sharing personal details like your home address, phone number or social security number. Stick to exchanging essential information related to the transaction only.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash: For more expensive items, consider using secure payment methods like PayPal or Venmo that offer buyer protection.
- Avoid wire transfers or money orders: Be cautious of sellers who insist on wire transfers or money orders as payment methods. These methods are often associated with scams and provide little to no recourse if something goes wrong.
- Report suspicious activity: If you encounter a suspicious seller or notice any fraudulent activity on Facebook Marketplace or any platform, report it to the platform’s support or customer service immediately. This helps protect other users from potential scams.
If you have any further questions or need more assistance, reach out to your district station’s Crime Prevention Unit.
Finally, stay informed during emergencies and severe weather events on the emergency information blog at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/blog.
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 www.fairfaxcounty.gov. And remember, if you have a police, fire or medical emergency, call 9-1-1. For non-emergency needs, call 703-691-2131.