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7 Steps for a Safe Summer

Posted at 11:43 a.m.

June is National Safety Month
Although June is National Safety Month, we hope you remember this month’s safety tips to stay safe and injury free all summer and all year long.

Here are your seven safety actions steps from the Risk Management Division and Office of Emergency Management:

The eighth safety step you can take is to share this important information with friends, family and neighbors. Enjoy your safe, injury-free summer!

Subscribe to the "Emergency Preparedness" newsletter, published monthly by the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management

Lightning Safety: Remember When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors

Posted at 4:20 p.m.


In the U.S., an average of 54 people are killed each year by lightning, and hundreds more are severely injured, according to the National Weather Service. Summer is the peak season for lightning, so remember “When thunder roars, go indoors!

During lightning safety week, Fairfax County’s Risk Management Division and Office of Emergency Management encourage you to become more aware of lightning safety, so you’ll have a safe summer.

Stay Safe When a Thunderstorm Threatens

  • At the first clap of thunder, go indoors or into an enclosed vehicle. Remain inside until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.When Thunder Roars... Go Indoors. June 23-29 is Lightning Safety Week.
  • A thunderstorm watch means there is a possibility of a thunderstorm in your area.
  • A thunderstorm warning means a thunderstorm is occurring or will likely occur soon. If you are advised to take shelter then do so immediately.
  • If you can hear thunder, seek shelter.  Even if it is not raining, lightning can strike within 10 miles of an area that is experiencing rain.
  • Stop all outdoor activities at the first clap of thunder to give yourself time to move indoors. Leaders of outdoor events should have a plan for moving participants inside.
  • If you cannot go indoors, squat low to the ground to make yourself the smallest target possible. Go to a low-lying area and stay away from trees, poles and metal objects.
  • Avoid electrical equipment, plumbing, windows and concrete floors and walls when indoors during a thunderstorm.
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately if someone has been struck by lightning. People who have been struck by lightning do not carry an electrical charge.

Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips

If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk:

  • Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks.
  • Never lie flat on the ground.
  • Never shelter under an isolated tree.
  • Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter.
  • Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water.
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.).

Indoor Lightning Safety

  • Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
  • Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.

Read more tips on thunderstorm preparedness and safety from the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service.

Summertime Boating Safety

Posted at 3:30 p.m.


During the summer, many of us spend time on the water in all types of boats. However, we all need to be prepared before heading out on the water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), operator error, lack of training and alcohol use contribute to the risk of drowning in a boating incident. And, nearly 85 percent of those who drown while boating were not wearing a life jacket.

As part of our series of National Safety Month messages, Fairfax County’s Risk Management Division and Office of Emergency Management encourage you to take steps today to stay healthy and injury-free while out on the water.

Be Prepared for Boating

  • June is National Safety MonthLearn to swim. Take lessons from a qualified aquatics instructor at a Park Authority ReCenter.
  • Know the local weather conditions and forecast before boating.
  • Before boating, take a U.S. Coast Guard approved boater safety course. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries offers boater safety classes.
  • Use U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets or personal flotation devices (PFD’s) when boating, regardless of distance to be traveled, size of boat, or swimming ability of boaters.
  • Make sure the life jacket is the right size, especially for children. Children under 13 must wear life jackets at all times while boating.
  • One wearable PFD is required per person while boating. There also may be requirements for “throwables” (ring buoys/seat cushions).
  • Avoid drinking alcohol before or during any boating activity and never drink alcohol while supervising children.
  • When near or on the water, always bring a cell phone and know how to contact emergency services. If you have a police, fire or medical emergency, call 9-1-1. For non-emergency needs, call 703-691-2131.

More information from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Stay Safe in the Sun this Summer and Avoid Heat Illness

Posted at 3:15 p.m.

It's Hot Outside; Stay Cool and Hydrated

Whether you are playing or working outside this summer, you need to take precautions to stay safe in the sun. As part of our National Safety Month series, Fairfax County’s Risk Management Division and Office of Emergency Management offer these tips.

Be Sun Smart

  • Cover up: Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brim hat, and wear sunglasses that block UV rays. Ideal sunglasses block 99-100 percent of the UV rays (both UVA and UVB).
  • Use Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher: The number of the SPF represents the level of sunburn protection provided. The sun’s UV rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes. Put on sunscreen before you go outside even on cloudy or cool days. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if you are active and sweating or swimming. Old sunscreens should be thrown away because they lose their potency after one to two years.June is National Safety Month
  • Limit direct exposure:  UV rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Limit time outdoors during these hours and seek shade whenever possible.
  • Drink fluids: Drink plenty of fluids regardless of your activity level. Water or sports beverages are recommended. Stay away from beverages that contain caffeine, alcohol or large quantities of sugar.
  • Stay indoors: Stay in air conditioning in places like your home, or a local shopping center or library. A few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler before you go back into the heat.
  • Check family and friends: Keep an eye on family members, friends and neighbors. Pay close attention and check regularly on young children and those 65 or older. Here are additional sun safety tips for babies and children.

Two types of heat illness

More  information on summer and heat safety is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You also may want to watch this video from the National Institutes of Health – Protecting Yourself From Skin Cancer. Get a heat safety fact sheet (pictured above) from OSHA, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Spanish verion); more tips on OSHA’s heat safety Web page.

Stay Safe This Summer: Slips, Trips and Falls


Falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States, according to the National Safety Council.  June is National Safety Month and a good time to review how you can avoid slips, trips and falls all year long.

Fairfax County’s Risk Management Division and Office of Emergency Management encourage you to take steps today to stay healthy and injury-free.

Watch Where You Walk and Climb Ladders with Caution

  • Ensure adequate lighting at your home both indoors and outdoors.June is National Safety Month
  • Remove debris from exterior walkways.
  • Periodically check the condition of walkways and steps, and repair damages immediately.
  • Arrange furniture to provide open walking pathways.
  • Secure electrical and phone cords out of traffic areas.
  • Always keep at least three points of contact with a ladder (two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand).
  • A straight or extension ladder should be placed 1 foot away from the surface it rests against for every 4 feet of ladder height.
  • Place the base of the ladder on a firm, solid surface.
  • Do not use ladders outdoors in windy or inclement weather.

More information from the National Safety Council.

Heat-related Illnesses and Heat Safety

June is National Safety Month

Posted at 3:45 p.m.

Heat-related illnesses (heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke) can occur when high temperatures overcome the body’s natural ability to dissipate heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Older adults, young children and people with chronic medical conditions are particularly susceptible to these illnesses. The CDC notes that from 1979-2003, excessive heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States. During this period, more people in this country died from extreme heat than from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined.

As part of National Safety Month, the county’s Risk Management Division and Office of Emergency Management encourage you to take steps today to stay safe in the summer heat.

Heat Safety Basics

  • Drink plenty of fluids: Drink two to four glasses of cool fluids each hour. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Do not drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages because they dehydrate the body.
  • Keep cool indoors: If you can, stay in an air-conditioned area. Resting for just two hours in air conditioning can significantly reduce heat-related illnesses. Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, movie theaters, shopping malls and other community facilities.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but with temperatures in the 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
  • Plan outdoor activities around the heat. If you must go outside, go before noon or at night when it’s cooler.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activities or reschedule them for the coolest part of the day, usually the early morning. Limit physical activity until your body adjusts to the heat.
  • Never leave children or pets unattended in a car — not even for a few minutes.                
  • Older adults and those with special medical needs are at an increased risk of developing heat related illnesses. Check on elderly relatives and neighbors during periods of extreme heat.

National Environment Public Health Tracking Network

Learn the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness and heat stroke with this information  from Fairfax County. More information and hot weather tips is also available from the CDC.

Swimming Pool Safety

June is National Safety MonthPosted at 1:15 p.m.

Swimming pool season is here. Many area pools opened over the Memorial Day holiday and are a great way to seek relief from summer heat. But you should also exercise caution to avoid accidental drownings and water-related injuries.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is a leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4 and the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages.

Fairfax County’s Risk Management Division and Office of Emergency Management encourage you to take steps today to stay injury-free while enjoying your local pool.

Pool Safety Rules

  • Never leave children unsupervised near pools. A tragedy can occur in seconds. If you must leave, take the child with you.
  • Make sure children learn to swim from a qualified instructor. Take lessons at a Park Authority ReCenter.
  • Take frequent breaks. Exhaustion may occur due to excessive activity and sun exposure.
  • Never overestimate swimming ability or knowledge of water-survival skills.
  • Ensure pool areas are fenced off to eliminate the chances a child will accidentally fall into the water in unsupervised areas.
  • Never use flotation devices as substitutes for supervision.
  • Never dive without first determining the water depth. Look for No Diving signs. Dive only when it is safe to do so.
  • Never swim during lightning storms. The National Lightning Safety Institute recommends staying out of or around a pool until thirty minutes after the last thunder is heard.
  • Keep a safety buoy with a rope or pole beside the pool in the event a rescue is necessary.
  • Always have a first-aid kit and emergency phone contacts nearby.
  • Take a CPR class.
  • Avoid alcohol and stay sober in or near the water. Alcohol affects your balance, coordination and can impair your swimming skills.
  • Prevent recreational water illnesses by keeping poop, germs, and pee out of the water. Learn more from the Fairfax County Health Department.  

Stay tuned to the blog all month for more safety tips during National Safety Month.

June is National Safety Month: Stay Informed

Posted at 3:45 p.m.

June is National Safety Month and we will be providing critical summer safety messages twice a week throughout the month.

June is National Safety MonthFairfax County’s Risk Management Division and the Office of Emergency Management encourage all of us to take a few minutes this month to become aware of some of leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths, and the easy steps you can take to stay healthy and injury-free. Some of the topics we will cover this month will include safety; slips, trips and falls prevention, and how to safely play and work in the summer heat.

Take your first step today toward a safe and healthy summer — Stay Informed:

Information on summer and heat safety.


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