Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving Wins FIRST Place - For Most Cooking Fires!


More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein is urging residents to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday and to keep safety at the top of everyone’s “to do” list this holiday season. “Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a rookie cooking your first holiday feast, the strategies for serving up a safe meal are the same,” said Chief Goldstein. “Unattended cooking is the leading cause of residential fires and we’re asking residents to follow these simple safety tips and to have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday.

Cooking Safety Tips:


  • Be alert! Stay in the kitchen when using the stovetop and use a timer. If you must leave the kitchen, even for a minute, turn off the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire at least 3 feet from the stove, toaster oven or other heat source. This includes pot holders, food packaging, dish towels, paper/plastic bags, etc.
  • Do not pour water on a grease fire. Pouring water on a grease fire can cause the fire to spread. In the event of a range-top fire, turn off the burner, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding a lid or cookie sheet onto the pan. Leave the lid in place until the pot or pan has cooled.
  • Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease buildup which can ignite.
  • Always wear short, tight-fitting sleeves when cooking to prevent clothing from coming in contact with a burner and catching fire.
  • Do not hold children while cooking or carrying hot foods or drinks. Keep children at a safe distance from hot surfaces, liquids and other kitchen hazards.
  •  Plug microwaves and other kitchen appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.
  • Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave the house. Make sure all other appliances are turned off and that any candles or smoking materials are safely extinguished.
  • Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, test alarms monthly and change batteries annually or as recommended by the manufacturer if your alarm features long-life batteries.

  • Turkey fryers are becoming an increasingly popular choice to cook the Thanksgiving turkey and can be extremely dangerous if proper precautions are not taken. If your plans include using a turkey fryer, fire department officials urge residents to follow all manufacturer directions closely and to review the following safety tips: 

    Turkey Fryer Safety Tips:


  • Never leave a fryer unattended.
  • By design, turkey fryers are prone to tipping over. Fryers should always be used on a non-combustible, flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
  • Fryers should always be used outdoors at least 10 feet from buildings and any flammable materials. Never use a fryer on a wooden deck, under a patio cover, in a garage, porch or other enclosed space.
  • Do not overfill the fryer. The oil may spill out of the unit when the turkey is placed into the cooking pot. Oil may hit the burner/flames resulting in a potential fire hazard that could engulf the entire unit.
  • Oil and water do not mix! Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before it is placed in a fryer. Partially frozen turkeys can cause a spillover effect which may result in a fire. 
  • Some units do not have thermostat controls and, if not carefully watched, have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching the pot or lid handle. The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles get dangerously hot and can result in severe burns. If available, use safety goggles to protect your eyes from any oil splatter.
  • Keep children and pets away from fryers. The oil can remain dangerously hot even hours after use.
  • Following these simple fire safety tips can boost survival rates and reduce injuries dramatically.  For more information about our fire safety programs or to request a free home safety evaluation or smoke alarm check, call 311 during business hours or visit our website at mcfrs.org/mcsafe at any time.
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    Saturday, November 4, 2017

    Time to Fall Back

    Home Fires Peak During the Winter Months. This simple task can be a potentially life-saving one. 
    Chief Scott Goldstein is reminding residents that one simple task can be a potentially life-saving one. The Chief is urging all residents to test and check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working and up-to-date when they change their clocks this weekend. 

    Did you know the peak time for home fire fatalities is between 11 pm and 6 am when most families are sleeping? A working smoke alarm dramatically increases the chances for survival and provides advance warning of a fire resulting in more time to react and put a home escape plan into action. Help keep your family safe by following these fire safety tips:

    1. Install smoke alarms on all levels of your home, including the basement and in all sleeping areas.
    2. Test smoke alarms each month to ensure they are working. Replace batteries annually, as needed or required by manufacturer.

    3. Plan and practice home fire drills regularly. 
    Decide in advance who will help family members that may need  assistance escaping (young children, older adults or people with disabilities).
    4. Retire old smoke alarms and replace with new ones every 10 years, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
    5. Make sure children recognize the sound of your smoke alarm and how to respond to its signal.

    6. After a decade of research, UL's Firefighter Safety Research Institute found that a simple behavioral change, closing your bedroom door, could have a potentially life-saving impact. Tests showed that a closed door made a life-saving difference in the event of a fire. A room with an open door showed temperatures over 1000 degrees, while a room with a closed door had temperatures at only 100 degrees. Research also showed that a closed door kept room conditions survivable longer than an open door.

    7. Know your battery type. Smoke alarms equipped with 10-year batteries are becoming more common. Check your smoke alarms to see what type of battery it has. The 10-year batteries don’t need to be replaced annually, but the entire smoke alarm does need to be replaced every ten years. Maryland’s new law (effective 1/1/2018) affects battery-operated smoke alarms and requires that alarms have SEALED IN, 10-year long life batteries which last for the life of the alarm. Do the math – that’s 10 years.  


    Got questions? Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service is here to help! Call 311 or visit us on line to schedule your free home safety check. Be sure to bookmark our website for year-round safety information at: www.mcfrs.org/mcsafe


    Monday, October 30, 2017

    Countdown to Halloween - Tips for a Safe and Fun Night

    With Halloween quickly approaching, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service offers some important tips for a safe Halloween. "Recent research shows that children are four times more likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than any other night of the year, said Fire Chief Scott Goldstein. “Fatal collisions between motor vehicles and young pedestrians occur most frequently between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m. It’s a dangerous night because so many kids are on the streets, many without their parents or an adult, and in their excitement often forget important pedestrian safety rules.”

    Plan a safe route.

    1. Accompany children and remind them to stop at all street corners, cross only at intersections and crosswalks. Teach them to look left, right and left before crossing the street and to continue looking both ways as they cross. If you’re a motorist, please slow down and be prepared to give trick or treaters a brake.

    2. Stay in familiar neighborhoods and have a parent or responsible adult accompany trick or treaters. Visit only those houses where the lights are on. Accept treats only in the doorway and NEVER go inside a house or apartment.

    3. Secure emergency identification (name, address, phone number) discreetly within Halloween attire or on a bracelet.

    4. Safety in numbers. If they’re old enough to trick-or-treat without an adult, designate a route before the kids go trick or treating, tell your kids to stay in a group, avoid taking short cuts through backyards and alleys and ask them to check in regularly.

    5. Ensure trick-or-treaters stay away from open flames or jack-o-lanterns with candles burning.

    6. Children should avoid busy streets, always use sidewalks, and follow all traffic rules and regulations. Motorists should drive slowly and be alert to small children crossing streets. Many accidents occur when motorists are backing vehicles out of driveways, unaware of the presence of small children.

    Be a good neighbor.
     
    1. Keep your porch lights on and eliminate tripping hazards on your porch and walkway.  Remove outdoor safety hazards such as toys, bicycles, garden hoses and lawn ornaments. Make sure the driveway and steps are cleared of leaves, which can be a slipping and falling hazard. Make sure that the driveway and walks are well lit for incoming trick-or-treaters. Replace burned-out or broken light bulbs.

    2. Pets get frightened on Halloween. Confine your pets for their safety and for that of trick or treaters.

    Be Safe – Be Seen.

    1. Don't assume the right-of-way. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters in the dark. Just because one car stops doesn't mean others will. 

    2. Encourage kids to follow all the rules for pedestrian safety. That includes obeying all traffic laws, looking both ways before crossing, using crosswalks, crossing at intersections and corners and never darting between parked cars.

    All Dressed Up.

    1. Plan costumes that are bright and have reflective qualities. Consider adding reflective tape or decals to costumes and trick or treat bags. Be sure kids carry a flashlight and use glow sticks for extra visibility.

    2. When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories purchase only those with a label indicating they are flame resistant.

    3. Have an adult inspect treats BEFORE eating anything. Do not eat any unwrapped, partially wrapped, or homemade-looking treats.

    4. Shorter IS safer. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.

    5. Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup as a safer alternative.

    6. If a sword, cane or stick is part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if they trip or fall.

    Decorate Safely.

    1. Illuminate your jack-o’-lanterns with flashlights or battery-operated candles instead of real ones. You won’t have the worries of an open flame coming in contact with anything or anyone.

    2. If you do use candles, keep them well away from where trick or treaters will be walking or standing. Review with your children the principle of “stop, drop and roll” should their clothing catch fire.

    Lastly, teach children how to call 9-1-1 if they have an emergency or become lost.

    Tuesday, August 1, 2017

    It’s National Night Out – make sure we find you in an EMERGENCY!


    National Night Out is a premier community-building event in the County. Do you know the police officers who work to keep your neighborhood and your family safe? Come out to the many National Night Out events being celebrated around the County and meet the first responders that serve your community and on your way home --- check your house numbers and make sure they are visible. 

    In an emergency, police, fire and rescue workers depend on house numbers to find YOU as quickly as possible. Finding your home - especially at night - can be challenging if address numbers are unreadable, hidden, unlighted or have missing numbers and may delay emergency responders from getting to you as quickly as possible.
    Are your house numbers visible from the street? Are they set on a background of contrasting color? If your house is hidden from the street, are your numbers attached to a visible fence, mailbox or gate? Is your mobile home identified with your house number? If you live on a corner, does your house number face the street named in your address?
    If you've answered "no" to any of these questions, please follow the guidelines below to make sure your house number is easy to read:

    1. Numbers must be visible from the street. Existing residential home numbering can be 3 1/2 inches high, however new residential homes must be at least 5 inches high and if you replace existing numbers they must be at least 5 inches high.

    2. Numbers should be placed on a contrasting background, with a reflective coating on the numbers for easy visibility at night.

    3. Repair or replace aging address number placards, especially on mailboxes that are a distance from the front of the residence.

    4. Prune any bushes, tree limbs or other growth that has covered your house numbers.

    5. Numbers should be placed on or beside the front door. If your door is not easily seen from the street, put the numbers on a post, fence or tree at the driveway entrance so they can be clearly seen from the street. In addition to numbers on the front door of your house, if you have a rural-style mailbox, reflective and contrasting numbers should be placed on both sides of the box so they can be seen by an emergency vehicle approaching from either direction.

    Montgomery County Code on Addresses
    a.The owner of any structure presently existing or constructed in the future must display Arabic numbers designating the address assigned to the structure by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, or by the municipality in which the structure is located. Numbers must be at least five (5) inches high for single-family detached and attached residences and at least six (6) inches high for commercial, industrial or multifamily structures. However, if the numbers designating the address of a single-family residence on April 5, 1988, were at least three (3) inches high, those numbers comply with the size requirement of this section as long as they remain in place. Address displays must be posted on a contrasting background displayed in a conspicuous place that is unobstructed and clearly readable from the street named in the official address of the structure. Where a structure has more than one (1) address or where more than one (1) structure shares a common entry or driveway, numbers must designate the addresses in sequence.

    b. An agency of the county must not require a permit for a sign containing only the address of a residence if the sign is smaller than a maximum size set by the county executive by regulation.


    Thursday, July 13, 2017

    Get Ready: High Heat in the Forecast

    Be Careful and Check on Elderly Neighbors

    The heat is ON. A Heat Advisory remains in effect from noon today until 9 p.m. Temperatures will be in the mid to upper 90s with heat index values around 105 degrees. Excessive heat is especially dangerous to the elderly, the young, those with existing medical conditions and those that work outdoors. Fire Chief Scott Goldstein is urging residents to stay cool, stay hydrated and to check on the welfare of elderly or at-risk neighbors as things "heat up" this week in the metropolitan area.
     

    Staying hydrated is essential all year long but is particularly important when temperatures soar. During hot weather and extreme heat, keep informed by listening to local weather and news channels and take a minute to review the tips below.


    1. Pre-hydrate, hydrate and re-hydrate.
    During hot weather you will need to increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. Drink plenty of fluids in advance, during and after activities and don’t wait until you're thirsty to hydrate.

    2.  Dress for the heat.
    Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect some of the sun’s energy. Limit your direct exposure to the sun and wear a hat for extra protection.

    3.  Monitor those at high risk.
    Extreme heat can be hazardous to your health and although anyone can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Those most at risk for heat-related illnesses include children, older adults, those that work or exercise outside and those with pre-existing medical conditions. Elderly or disabled residents in Montgomery County in need of a free fan can call 311 for information.

    4. Children and cars - use common sense.
    Never, ever leave infants, children, pets or the elderly in a parked car where temperatures can become life-threatening in minutes, even with the windows rolled down. Additionally, hot interior surfaces of a car can burn a child’s skin. Before you put your child in a car that has been parked in a warm/sunny spot, check the temperature of the car seat or upholstery first.

    5. Avoid strenuous activity.
    Take regular breaks when exercising or engaged in physical activity on warm days. If you recognize that you, or someone else, is showing signs of a heat-related illness, stop the activity immediately, find a cool place to rest, hydrate and seek medical attention if necessary.

    6. Be a good neighbor.
    Isolated, elderly adults are at a much higher risk of health-related issues. Be a good neighbor and take a minute to check in with your neighbors.

    7. Remember your pets.
    Hot weather can affect the well-being of pets making them susceptible to overheating which can lead to very dangerous heat stroke. Always provide a source of water and a cool, ventilated place for your pet. Leaving your pet inside a parked car, even for a few minutes, can be fatal. The inside of a car can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes.  

    8. Stay indoors, if possible.
    Stay indoors and, if possible, in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, consider going to the shopping mall, community center or public library. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you return to the heat.