Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church


The hint of springtime last weekend didn’t last, of course, and the gloomy days of winter quickly re-established themselves. It is February, after all, and winter weather, coupled with long hours of darkness, raises questions about safety on many fronts. News accounts remind us to bundle up, wear gloves or mittens, and a hat, and be mindful of wind chills. We also are urged to clear snow off the whole car, including the roof, before driving.

What we often aren’t reminded of, though, are other quick tips that can make us, and everyone else, safer. Be sure to refill your windshield washer fluid, and use it often. How many cars have you seen that are so covered with grime that the driver can barely see out? One word of caution: a constituent contacted me this week and said that a new bug remover/washer that he bought didn’t have antifreeze in it, something he learned too late when his vehicle’s system froze and burst with the new product.

As a school girl, I was taught that a pedestrian should always “wear white at night.” Some parkas and shoes have reflective tape that helps immensely with visibility. Far too often, however, folks are wearing dark clothing and simply can’t be seen until almost too late. Fairfax County’s police and fire departments are first-rate, but you really don’t want them to have to scoop you or a loved one off the pavement because of a vehicle/pedestrian collision.

Likewise, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is focusing on “preventing the 911 call” in the community. Our first responders are caring and well-trained for any emergency, but they would like to prevent the emergency in the first place. Fire Chief Richard Bowers has developed a “Safety in Our Community” initiative that is connecting with thousands of residents and homeowners. Safety and fall prevention is a special interest, and not just for senior citizens. Whether walking the dog or just stepping off of a curb, take the time to steady your step. Hanging onto the stair handrail can be a lifesaver. The least bit of ice or a pebble is sometimes enough to put you off-stride and onto the pavement. Proper footwear and watching where you step can prevent the call to 911. Tripping hazards can be as simple as that throw rug in the hallway, or a dimly lit stairway. Falls in the home are a leading cause of injury and death. Don’t be a statistic.

The spring version of the Safety in Our Community initiative will feature firefighters making personal visits to inspect smoke detectors, install new ones, or replace batteries to ensure working equipment. Every home should have a working smoke detector on every floor and near sleeping areas. The spring campaign also will feature grilling safety tips, cautions about keeping children from falling out of open windows, and swimming safety. This proactive partnership between the community and the Fire and Rescue Department supports the quality of life that we enjoy in Fairfax County. For more safety tips, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fr.


 Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov.