Monday, July 25, 2016

Maintaining Operational Readiness

By: Captain John Emmons
       Fire Station 31-A Shift

There is more to a career firefighter's day than responding to emergencies. We also have to maintain our apparatus and equipment to ensure they are ready and will operate when needed the most.

For example, every three months, we complete a detailed maintenance of the ladder on our ladder truck here at Rockville Fire Station 31. This is actually completed on all ladder trucks in the county.

To be done properly, a detailed and lengthy process is required. The first step is to remove the old grease from the ladder. Over time and use, it loses its ability to lubricate and protect the ladder as it is extended and retracted. It is imperative to get off all the old.

The next step is to wash the ladder. A wash brush does not do a very good job so we wash it by hand with a rag, soap and water. After the ladder is dry, it's time to apply a thin coat of fresh, clean grease. The entire process takes several hours and is necessary to keep the ladder operating safely and properly.

Below are some photos from our quarterly aerial cleaning and lubrication we recently competed at station 31.

photo of firefighters performing maintenance on ladder trucks ladder

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Your Car Can Turn Into An Oven Quickly Today – Please Don’t Leave Your Best Friend Behind!

Another HOT day is in store for us on yet another of the 101 Days of Summer Safety. We are reposting this particular tip in light of this heat wave.

If you are a pet owner and decide to run errands with Spot in your car - do NOT leave Fido in the back seat as you get out and go about your business. A car, on a day like today and even with windows cracked, can turn into an oven very quickly.

Like humans, dogs are at risk of heat stroke during the summer months. It can only take a few minutes for a pet left in a vehicle on a warm day to succumb to heatstroke. Unlike people, our canine friends have very limited ability to cool off by sweating. Dogs have sweat glands on their foot pads only and their main mechanism for cooling down is panting which can be insufficient to lower their body temperature on hot days.

Just a few minutes in a car can be enough for an animal's body temperature to climb to deadly levels that will damage the nervous and cardiovascular systems, often leaving the animal comatose, dehydrated and at risk of permanent impairment or death. Even on a moderate summer day, the sun can turn a car into an oven very quickly. On a mild 70° day the temperature inside a car parked in the shade – even with the window “cracked”- can reach 89° in a few minutes; in direct sunlight it can reach more than 100°.

The law in Maryland: MD Code, Transportation § 21-1004.1
It is illegal for a cat or dog to be in a “standing or parked motor vehicle in a manner that endangers the health or safety of the cat or dog.”

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Heatstroke - How Hot The Inside Of A Car Can Get

An extremely eye opening video from our friends at SafeKids. Please take 53 seconds to watch!

If you ever see a child alone in a car, please call 911. You could save a life!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Tips on Surviving the Heat Wave

As some of you are no doubt aware, the weather forecast over the next several days calls for sustained, high temperatures and heat index making it especially dangerous for the those at greatest risk including the elderly, the young, those with existing medical conditions and those that work outdoors. Montgomery County government is also offering Tips on Surviving the Heat 

graph displaying expected highs over the next several daysWhile staying hydrated is essential all year long, it is particularly important when temperatures soar. MCFRS is urging residents to to stay cool, stay hydrated and to check on the welfare of elderly or at-risk neighbors. 

During hot weather and extreme heat these next several days, and throughout the summer, keep informed by listening to local weather and news channels, use common sense 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.  Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluids you drink or has prescribed water pills, ask how much you should drink when the weather is hot. 

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, low income or individuals with disabilities in Montgomery County in need of a fan can call 240-777-3000 for information on free fans.

4. Children and cars - use common sense.
Never 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.
When possible, strenuous activities should be reduced, eliminated or rescheduled to the coolest part of the day. 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.

Remember, heat stroke is a MEDICAL EMERGENCY that can be fatal if not treated promptly. The American Red Cross advises that warning signs can vary among individuals but common signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke may include:  

Heat Exhaustion:

      -  Heavy sweating
      -  Muscle cramps
      -  Pulse rate: fast and weak
      -  Breathing: fast and shallow
      -  Nausea or vomiting
      -  Fatigue
      -  Weakness
      -  Headache and/or dizziness

Heat Stroke:

-  An extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees)
-  The absence of sweating
-  Rapid pulse
-  Difficulty breathing
-  Throbbing headache
-  Strange behavior and/or hallucinations
-  Confusion, agitation and disorientation
-  Unconscious

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. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Candle Safety

Yet another important 101 Days of Summer Safety topic - Candles.

Candles may look festive and smell pretty but understand that unattended candles account for thousands of fires annually. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that, on average, 25 home candle fires are reported across the United States each day. Back in May, a candle caused a house fire in Bethesda.
photo of several lit tea candles on a surface

In addition, the NFPA reports that from 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 9,300 home structure fires that were started by candles. These fires caused 86 deaths, 827 injuries and $374 million in direct property damage.

MCFRS asks that all residents consider battery-operated, flameless candles instead. Many look and smell like real candles - you really can’t tell the difference!

If you still wish to use open flame candles, MCFRS would like to remind all residents to check your smoke alarms regularly and please follow these safety tips while using candles in the home:

  • Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • If power is out please use flashlights for emergency lighting. Never use candles.
  • Keep candles away from items that can catch fire (e.g., clothing, books, paper, curtains, Christmas trees, flammable decorations, etc.).
  • Use candle holders that are sturdy, won't tip over easily, are made from a material that can't burn and are large enough to collect dripping wax.
  • Don't place lit candles in windows. Blinds and curtains can easily ignite.
  • Place candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface and do not use candles in places where they could be knocked over by children or pets.
  • Keep candles and all open flames away from flammable liquids.
  • Keep candle wicks trimmed to one-quarter inch and extinguish candles when they get to within two inches of the holder or decorative material. Votive and containers should be extinguished before the last half-inch of wax starts to melt.
  • Avoid candles with decorative items embedded in them.

For more tips go here: Candle Safety