Posted at 3 p.m.
Daylight Saving Time ends in the U.S. at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4. Fairfax County reminds you to turn your clocks back one hour before you head to bed on Saturday.
Learn more about Daylight Saving Time from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Change Those Batteries
According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire. Every home needs working smoke alarms to provide an early warning.
- Test your smoke alarms once a month.
- Check that you have smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement. Be sure to have alarms close to and inside where people are sleeping, especially if you are hosting guests for the upcoming holidays.
- Never use an oven or stovetop to heat your home in the winter.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended.
There also are different types of smoke alarms. Read the Fire and Rescue blog for information on the types of alarms and guidance on when to change the batteries.
Check Your Emergency Supplies
The time spent changing your clocks and checking your batteries is also an opportunity to refresh the items in your emergency supply kits (at home, in the office and at the car). Items may have expired or been used and not replaced, so be sure to check those kits and make sure you’re prepared for any emergency.
Posted at 2:30 p.m.
Children dressed in costumes excitedly running door to door to trick-or-treat, festive decorations like glowing jack-o-lanterns, paper ghosts and dried cornstalks adorning front porches – these are some of the classic hallmarks of Halloween that make the holiday special for kids and adults alike.
Unfortunately, these Halloween symbols and activities can also present lurking fire risks that have the potential to become truly scary. But by planning ahead, you can help make this Halloween a fire-safe one. Taking simple fire safety precautions like keeping decorations far away from open flames and using battery-operated candles or glow-sticks in jack-o-lanterns can help ensure your holiday remains festive and fun!
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 with yellow and red flashing bulbs. Additionally, small battery powered candles can be used.
Whether you’re lighting a jack-o-lantern or making costumes, use these tips from the National Fire Protection Association and the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department to make your Halloween safe and fun.
- Use flashlights or battery-operated candles for Halloween decorations.
- Keep Halloween decorations away from open flames, light bulbs and heaters. Decorations like cornstalks and crepe paper can catch on fire easily.
- Look for “Flame Resistant” or “Flame Retardant” labels on costumes because candles and flammable costumes can be a dangerous combination. If you make costumes at home, choose flame-resistant fabrics like nylon and polyester.
- Tell kids to stay away from candles and jack-o’-lanterns that may be on steps and porches. Their costumes could catch fire if they get too close.
- Never let a group of children trick-or-treat alone. Adult supervision is a safety “must” during Halloween.
- Use sidewalks when trick or treating. Cross only at street corners and crosswalks.
- 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.
- Tell the children to remove their masks and look both ways before they cross a street.
Meanwhile, the Fairfax County Police Department encourages drivers to pay attention and remember that excited trick-or-treaters are probably not paying attention to you and your car.
- Stay alert, as children tend to be preoccupied with Halloween festivities.
- Leave driveways and parking spaces slowly, and double-check that no one is in the way.
- Drive slowly, particularly through residential areas.
- Do not pass vehicles stopped in the roadway, as they may be stopped for pedestrians.
- Don’t let yourself get distracted by your phone – avoid distractions and stay alert!
And of course we shouldn’t forget our pets. Be sure to keep chocolate up and away from your pet(s) as it can be poisonous to them. Additionally, not all trick-or-treaters like dogs – so make sure to keep your pet on a leash or behind a gate away from the front door! And ensure that your pet has identification on in the event that they accidentally get loose.
Let’s keep all our gremlins, ghosts and goblins safe to enjoy another Halloween celebration next year.
Posted at 12:30 p.m.
Personal financial planning helps families prepare for emergencies. Take time to increase your level of disaster preparedness and especially your financial preparedness.
Saving can be a tall order for some, but in an emergency, a lack of financial preparedness could leave you and your family with fewer options for immediate relief.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Set aside money in an emergency savings fund for initial out-of-pocket costs including gas, food and hotel accommodations to provide safety, comfort and distance during a disaster.
- Keep cash on hand in the event of power outage when electronic payments are not available. It is important to have small bills on hand because ATM’s and credit cards may not work during a disaster when you need to purchase necessary supplies, fuel or food.
- Complete an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit and digitizing important documents (e.g. medical records, ID, insurance, etc.) in case they are needed following a disaster.
- Consider the cost of insurance deductibles. Obtain property (homeowners or renters), health, and life insurance if you do not have them. Review existing policies for the amount and extent of coverage to ensure that what you have in place is what is required for you and your family for all possible hazards.
Be ready for the unexpected. Create or add to your emergency savings and encourage others (family, friends, neighbors and colleagues) to save for a disaster too.
Being financially prepared should be incorporated in your personal preparedness plan.
Posted at 11 a.m.
There have been numerous incidents in the last several days of suspicious packages being mailed to prominent officials or reports of unattended or suspicious packages.
We all play a role in protecting our community and each other.
One key way is to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings – from your neighborhood to a mall, and from public transportation to a public venue such as a stadium. Remember, “If you see something, say (or send) something.”
How to Report
If there’s an ongoing emergency, call or text 9-1-1.
If you see something suspicious, here’s how to report it:
- Visit the new iWatchNOVA reporting website or download the app for your Apple or Android phone (search “iWatchNOVA”) to easily report something suspicious. iWatchNOVA is a collaborative effort among Northern Virginia law enforcement agencies.
- You may also call the Fairfax County non-emergency line at 703-691-2131, TTY 703-877-3715.
When reporting suspicious activity, it is helpful to give the most accurate description possible, including:
- Brief description of the activity.
- Date, time and location of the activity.
- Physical identifiers of anyone you observed.
- Descriptions of vehicles.
- Information about where people involved in suspicious activities may have gone.
Protect Your Every Day
Homeland security begins with hometown security. It’s all about empowering everyday residents to protect their neighbors and the communities they call home by recognizing and reporting suspicious activity.