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 1 p.m.
With the summer months upon us, now is the time to learn about the dangers of heatstroke and being trapped in a hot car. Heatstroke is dangerous and can be deadly.
Never leave children, pets, or older adults unattended in a parked car.
Unfortunately, children mistakenly being left in hot vehicles make up many of the tragedies reported each year.
Use the following life saving tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to remind yourself and others to check the back seat before walking away from a vehicle.
- Look Before You Lock. Get into the routine of always checking the back seat of your vehicle before you lock it and walk away.
- A Gentle Reminder. Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it is empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Alternatively, place your phone, briefcase, or purse in the back seat when traveling with your child.
- A Routine Check. If someone else is driving your child, or you alter your daily routine, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.
- A Key to Safety. You know to keep your vehicle locked, but also keep your keys out of reach; nearly 3 in 10 heatstroke deaths happen when an unattended child gains access to a vehicle.
On a warm day, temperatures can rapidly rise to dangerous levels. Even with the windows slightly open, the temperature in a car on a 93-degree day can soar to 125 degrees in just 20 minutes and approximately 140 degrees in 40 minutes.
Keep Your Pets Safe Too
Rolling down the windows has little effect on the temperature inside a car. High temps can cause organ damage and even death for our furry friends.
If your pet shows any of the following signs contact your veterinarian immediately:
- Heavy panting
- Glazed eyes
- Rapid heartbeat
- Excessive thirst
- Profuse salivation
Take steps to reduce the animal’s body temperature, apply ice packs or cold towels to the head, neck and chest; provide water and ice cubes for hydration; and move the animal into the shade or air-conditioning.
If you see a child or pet alone in a parked car on a hot day, call 9-1-1.
Learn more extreme heat preparedness at www.ready.gov/heat.
Posted at 10 a.m.
Every summer there seems to be a heartbreaking story of a child who was accidentally left in a hot car.
Heatstroke is one of the leading causes of death among children. Unfortunately, even great parents can forget a child in the back seat. Other risk factors include caregivers who aren’t used to driving kids or whose routine suddenly changes. So remember — look before you lock. Always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away.
You can also keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. And if someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.
Want to see why it’s so critically important to take these steps? Watch this video to see how quickly the temperature can rise inside a vehicle.
For more on keeping kids safe, including what you can do if you see a child alone in a car , visit safercar.gov.
Posted at 11:55 a.m.
Heatstroke is the number two killer of children behind car crashes. That’s why we’ve joined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to attempt to reduce these deaths by reminding you — especially parents and caregivers — about the dangers of heatstroke and leaving children in hot cars.
As outside temperatures rise, the risks of children dying from being left alone inside a hot vehicle also rises. According to safercar.gov, one child dies from heatstroke nearly every 10 days from being left in a hot vehicle. In 2014 there were at least 30 heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles. What is most tragic is that the majority of these deaths could have been prevented.
Please remember these three things:
- Never leave a child in a vehicle unattended.
- Make it a habit to look in the backseat every time you exit the car.
- Always lock the car and put the keys out of reach.
If you are a bystander and see a child unattended in a vehicle:
- Always make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 9-1-1 immediately.
- If the child appears ok, you should attempt to locate the parents; or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over the public address system.
- If there is someone with you, one person should actively search for the parent while someone waits at the car.
- If the child is not responsive and appears in great distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child, even if that means breaking a window.
Children’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than that of an adult, and heatstroke can occur in temperatures as low as 57 degrees. On an 80-degree day, a car can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.
Know the warning signs of heatstroke, which include:
- Red, hot and moist or dry skin.
- No sweating.
- A strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse.
- Confusion or acting strangely.
If a child exhibits any of these signs after being in a hot vehicle, cool the child rapidly by spraying them with cool water or with a garden hose — never an ice bath. Call 9-1-1 immediately.
According to safercar.gov, 59 percent of all vehicle-related heatstroke deaths in children are caused by a child accidentally being left in the car; 29 percent are from a child getting into a hot car on their own. Remember to “look before you lock.”
Posted at 3:30 p.m.
The end of summer brings the start of another school year, full of opportunity to get involved in fresh activities and learn something new. Deciding on new school supplies and planning the outfit you’ll wear on the first day of school is part of being prepared. But, are your child(ren) and family prepared for emergencies?
The back-to-school season also presents the opportunity to get prepared for emergencies, especially as family routines oftentimes change during the school year and disasters may not occur while family is together.
Do you and your children know the following information without cellphone access? Is it handy in wallets, backpacks, briefcases and more?
- Family phone numbers.
- Addresses for home, school and work.
- Meeting location (one near your house and outside your neighborhood).
- Out-of-state contact for household members to notify they are safe.
Inquire about emergency plans at places where your family frequently spends their time:
- Daycare and school.
- Houses of worship.
- Sports arenas and venues.
Involving your children in making your family’s emergency plan helps them know what to do and reduces stress during times of emergency. Make your family emergency plan at www.ReadyNOVA.org.
Shopping for school supplies? Pick up an extra backpack or use an old one and enjoy a family night of making emergency go-kits. Emergency kits need to be customized to each person’s individual needs.
Learn more about how to make an emergency kit at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/prepare/make-a-kit.htm