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Keep Safe This Holiday; Be Aware of Candles and Holiday Tree Fires

Posted at 12:35 p.m.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. Candles start two out of five home decoration structure fires, and the top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day and Christmas Eve.

Be fire smart as you deck the halls for a festive holiday season with these tips.

  • Use battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell and feel like real candles.
  • If you do use lit candles, put them in stable holders and place them where they can’t be knocked over.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that burns. Never leave a burning candle alone.

Christmas Tree Fires

Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. On average, one of every 32 reported home Christmas tree fires results in a death compared to an average of one death per 143 total reported home fires.

  • Water your Christmas trees every day. A dry tree can easily catch on fire.
  • Keep your Christmas tree at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, candles or heat vents. Don’t let them block your exits.
  • Inspect your holiday lights each year before you put them up. Throw away strands with frayed or pinched wires. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect.
  • Turn off all holiday lights before going to bed or leaving your home.
  • One of every four home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.
  • A heat source too close to the tree causes one in every four Christmas tree fires.

Learn more from the U.S. Fire Administration or the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

New Report Highlights Higher Residential Fire Risks During Winter Months

Posted at 11:30 a.m.

According to a new report from the U.S. Fire Administration, residential building fire incidence was collectively higher in the winter months of January, February and March, peaking in January at 11 percent. While winter residential building fires accounted for only 8 percent of the total number of fires in the U.S., they resulted in 30 percent of all fire deaths and 23 percent of all fire injuries.

Each year during the 2014-2016 period, an estimated 108,200 winter residential building fires were reported to fire departments within the United States. These fires caused an estimated 980 deaths, 3,575 injuries and $1.9 billion in property loss.

According to the report.

  • cooking causes 40 percent of winter residential building firesAt 43 percent, cooking was the leading cause of winter residential building fires. Small, confined fires accounted for 90 percent of these cooking fires.
  • Winter residential building fires occurred most frequently in the early evening, peaking during the dinner hours from 5 to 8 p.m., when cooking fire incidence is high.
  • Nonconfined winter residential building fires most often started in cooking areas and kitchens (20 percent). The leading specific factor contributing to ignition in nonconfined winter residential building fires was a heat source too close to combustibles (16 percent).
  • In 51 percent of nonconfined winter residential building fires, the fire extended beyond the room of origin. The leading causes of these larger fires were unintentional or careless actions (19 percent), electrical malfunctions (14 percent), open flames (12 percent) and heating (9 percent).
  • Smoke alarms were not present in 22 percent of nonconfined winter fires in occupied residential buildings. Additionally, automatic extinguishing systems were present in only 4 percent of nonconfined winter fires in occupied residential buildings.

Learn more on the Fire Administration webpage; you can download the full report here.

Check Your Smoke Alarms When You Change the Clocks for Daylight Saving Time

Posted at 3 p.m.

Daylight Saving TimeA good time to remember to check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as change the batteries, is when you change your clocks twice a year as Daylight Saving Time begins and ends.

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.

Residents Asked to Not Drop Off Donations Until Needs Have Been Determined

Posted at 12:05 p.m.

ultiple fires in the Centreville area of Fairfax County yesterday, May 2, have displaced over 40 county residents. The county has established an emergency shelter for those affected at Cub Run RECenter, 4630 Stonecroft Blvd, Chantilly.

At this time, county human services personnel are working with various nonprofits, including the Red Cross, to provide shelter and assistance. Over the next few days and weeks, those impacted will have various needs, with many having lost everything.

However, at this time, county officials are asking residents NOT to drop off any donations until we have a chance to work with our nonprofit partner agencies to determine what those needs are.

Stay tuned to the blog as well as our social media channels — Facebook and Twitter — for details about how you can assist your fellow Fairfax County residents.

Enhanced Threat for the Spread of Wild Fires Today, March 15

Posted at 8:30 a.m.

According to the National Weather Service, a combination of gusty winds, low relative humidity and low fuel moisture will enhance the threat for the spread of wildfires late this morning through this afternoon.

Residents are urged to exercise caution handling any potential ignition source, including machinery, cigarettes and matches. Be sure to properly discard all smoking materials. Any dry grasses and tree litter that ignite will have the potential to spread quickly.

More on the forecast from the weather service.