Preparations for the holidays may include decorating, shopping, cooking, and travel, but they rarely include emergencies. Fortunately, public safety agencies in Fairfax County, both police and fire, stand ready to assist if an emergency strikes. We can make their lives a little easier by taking simple precautions and avoid making that 911 call to ruin your holiday.
The Fairfax County Police Department advises shoppers to be safe this holiday season: carry little cash, limit your credit cards to one or two, secure your packages in the trunk, and move the car to another location in the parking lot if you plan to do more shopping. That way, anyone watching you stow your purchases will assume you are leaving, instead of trying to break into your vehicle. Ladies, know where your purse is at all times. Never leave it unattended. Thieves can pluck out your wallet and valuables in a heartbeat! For more information about holiday safety, log on to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police.
Unfortunately, the holidays also are a frequent time for calls to fire and rescue. Increased use of candles and fireplaces, climbing on the roof to install holiday lights, and failure to check for frayed or inoperable lights for the tree can lead to serious, and sometimes fatal, accidents. This past weekend, a Mason District home was damaged by an unattended candle in a bathroom, and last week, in another part of Fairfax County, firefighters responded to a fire caused by hot fireplace ashes stored in a flammable container. More information about fire safety can be obtained on-line at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fr.
Mason District is home to six fire stations, all of which are kept busy by emergency calls for service. For Fiscal Year 2011, which ended June 30, Station 10 in Bailey’s Crossroads led all stations in Fairfax County in the number of responses for its engine company (3,030) and its medic unit (2,427). Station 10 is the busiest station in the county, with an additional 1,638 ambulance responses, and 1,772 truck company responses. Close behind is Station 8 in Annandale, which was second in engine company responses (2,834) and first in ambulance responses (1,715). Additionally, Mason District stations ranked first and second in the number of rescue squad responses, with Station 26 (Edsall Road) at 1,421, and Station 18 (Jefferson) at 1,263. Overall, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue responded to 89,412 calls for emergency service, a decrease of nearly 3 percent from the previous year, and 47,840 patients were transported to medical facilities. Additionally, the Life Safety Education office conducted safety classes for nearly 32,500 preschool and school-aged children, getting them started on a lifetime of safety practices. For older adults, the File of Life program allows residents to retain and display medical information to emergency personnel through a handy little plastic envelope that contains a form for you to fill out your doctor’s information, medical conditions, and any medications you may be taking. The plastic sleeve has a magnetic strip on the back so you can hang it on the refrigerator door, for easy access by the EMTs. For your own File of Life, please contact my office, or call Life Safety Education at 703/246-3801.
Let’s all have a safe and happy holiday season, and thank our public safety personnel who help keep it that way.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at email@example.com