Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Home Safe Home: Child Window Safety

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Windows play a vital role in home safety, serving as a secondary escape route in the event of a fire or other emergency, but they also pose a risk for a fall if safety measures are not followed. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue and Safe Kids are providing the following safety tips to help prevent window-related injuries in the home:

  • Never rely on window screens to keep children from falling out of windows. A screen is not a safety device - - it is designed to keep insects out, not to keep children in.

  • Keep furniture such as sofas, beds and dressers away from windows. This will discourage children from climbing near any windows.

  • Keep windows closed and locked when they are not being used.

  • When windows are open for ventilation, take advantage of all safety features. If possible, open windows from the top and not the bottom if you have double-hung windows – the kind that can open down from the top as well as up from the bottom.

  • Install safety devices such as window guards or window stops to help prevent falls.

Window falls can happen quickly and, in some cases, can be deadly. When keeping your kids safe, MCFRS reminds parents that no device can replace active supervision. For more safety tips, visit our website at www.mcfrs.org/mcsafe.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Flow Testing: High Rise Operations

Courtesy of Battalion Chief Mark Davis

This morning crews from Montgomery County Paramedic Engine 719, Paramedic Engine 728, and Battalion Chief 701 conducted several flow tests in high rise apartment buildings in the Gaithersburg area. MCFRS crews wanted to confirm the performance capabilities of their new pumpers and new high-rise fire hose and nozzles.  The goal was to obtain specific flows of 250 gpm and 500 gpm at specific pressures on the upper most part of the building using the building's standpipe system.

The roof proved to 
be the perfect place for flowing and measuring water and all four tests were completed without any problems.  
Each test involved a fire department pumper supplying water to standpipe system using the Fire Department Connection located on the front of the building near the lobby entrance. Supply pressures in excess of 220 psi were needed to meet the flow needs of the hose lines operation on the roof.  While 200+ psi might seem high, it is well within the operating range of a fire department pumper; these type of pressures are often needed to overcome the loss in system pressure due to the height of a building.

Many thanks go out to the Management and Maintenance Staff of the facilities for keeping their fire protection systems in good working order and for allowing MCFRS to complete this very important flow testing work.  Check out the videos below. 

Friday, August 30, 2019

Back to School! What’s our #1 Safety Tip? SLOW DOWN

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With the start of the school year quickly approaching, Fire Chief Scott Goldstein is reminding drivers to exercise extra caution as students head back to school Tuesday. "Safety is our top priority. With schools back in session in Montgomery County and across the DMV, drivers should allow extra time, slow down, hang up and pay attention.”


- Be alert and slow down. Exercise extra caution as you head out to work and be on the lookout for school buses. Many bus routes or schedules change each year and you may encounter a school bus or stop where you may have never seen one before.

- Stop for buses. Flashing yellow lights mean slow down – NOT speed up – and be prepared to stop. Do not attempt to pass or overtake a school bus from behind when yellow lights are flashing. The yellow lights should alert you that flashing red lights will be coming on, just as if you’re at a traffic signal.

- When the lights are flashing – don’t be passing! Red flashing lights mean stop and wait at least 20 feet before reaching a stopped school bus. Stay stopped until the red lights are deactivated and stop flashing, the extended arm is returned and the bus begins moving. Passing a school bus when the red lights are flashing is not only illegal it is also one of the biggest threats to student safety.

- In traffic, avoid “cutting” in front of a bus. Many bus drivers leave a safe following distance between the bus and the vehicle ahead of them to ensure a safer environment for passengers. Even if your car can fit into the space, always avoid cutting in front of a bus or transit vehicle.

- Scan between parked cars. Nearly 40 percent of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., mostly at non-intersection locations, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Children can quickly dart out between parked cars or other objects along the roadway. Motorists should pay close attention not only at intersections, but along any residential roadways where children could be present.

- Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.

- School Zones: Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and around schools

- Passengers should always wear a seat belt
and/or ride in an age and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat. Children of all ages are safest when properly restrained in the backseat of a vehicle.

- Talk to your teen. Safety on the road is especially important for “new” drivers that may be driving to school for the first time. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at www.teendriving.AAA.com.

Reminders for Parents:

Be realistic about your child's pedestrian skills. Children are not always aware of their surroundings and may dart into traffic assuming drivers will see and stop for them. Carefully consider whether your child is ready to walk to school or wait for the bus without adult supervision. Walk the route with your child beforehand.

- Remember that there’s safety -- AND VISIBILITY -- in numbers. Whenever possible, walk in groups rather than alone.

- Teach children to always cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks and look left, right and left again before crossing. Children may have difficulty gauging the distance and speed of an approaching car and may not recognize and react to potentially hazardous situations.

- If kids will be traveling to school by bike, review the rules of the road and always wear a helmet. Not only is it the smart thing to do, it is also the law in Maryland.

Home Alone

Parent’s often ask “When is my child old enough to stay home alone?” Decisions involving child safety go far beyond the law and require careful, realistic evaluations of each individual child’s readiness. Parents need to carefully consider the pros and cons of having a child stay home alone before/after school.

Be familiar with laws and child protective policies and, because children mature at different rates, your decision should not be based on age alone. Children should master important safety skills before staying home alone. Be sure to make and practice a home fire escape plan that includes a designated "meeting place" outside where everyone will meet if the smoke alarm sounds and ensure they know when and how to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. DYK that unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires? Be sure to have plenty of after school snacks on hand that do not require cooking. For more information, please visit www.mcfrs.org/mcsafe and have a safe school year! 

Monday, July 22, 2019

Extension Cord Safety

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Extension cords are a convenient way to bring temporary power to electrical devices. Used without proper caution, they can become a fire hazard and pose a serious risk to your personal safety. A heavy reliance on extension cords is an indication that you have too few outlets to address your needs. Some important tips from Montgomery County Fire & Rescue: 

Selecting extension cords

  • Purchase only cords that have been approved by an independent testing laboratory.
  • For outdoor projects, use only extension cords marked for outdoor use.
  • Read the instructions for information about the cord’s correct use and the amount of power it draws when running.
  • Select cords that are rated to handle the wattage of the devices with which they’ll be used. 

Using extension cords

  • Do NOT run extension cords through walls, doorways, ceilings, or floors. If a cord is covered, heat cannot escape, which may result in a fire hazard.
  • Do NOT overload extension cords.
  • Never remove an extension cord’s grounding pin in order to fit it into a two-prong outlet.
  • Never use extension cords to power appliances. Plug appliances directly into wall outlets. 
  • Never use indoor extension cords outdoors.
  • Don't attempt to plug multiple extension cords together.
  • Don't run extension cords under rugs or furniture.
  • Never tape extension cords to floors or attach them to surfaces with staples or nails.
  • Don’t bend or coil cords when they’re in use.
  • Immediately stop using extension cords that feel hot to the touch or show signs of deterioration.

Caring for extension cords

  • Always store cords indoors.
  • Unplug extension cords when they’re not in use.
  • Throw away damaged cords.
  • Pull the plug—not the cord—when disconnecting from the outlet.
  • Consider covering unused cord receptacles with childproof covers.
Remember: extension cords are intended as temporary wiring solutions. If you find you’re using them on a permanent basis, consider updating your home’s electrical system.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Extremely Dangerous Temperatures Ahead

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Fire Officials Urge People to be Careful and Check on Elderly Neighbors

The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat watch for the Washington area Friday, Saturday and Sunday for heat index values of up to 110 to 115 degrees.  The current heat wave is especially dangerous for the elderly, the young, those with existing medical conditions and those that work outdoors. Fire Chief Scott Goldstein is urging  residents to to stay cool, stay hydrated and to check on the welfare of elderly or at-risk neighbors as the forecast calls for record heat and sustained high temperatures 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.  Wear the right stuff. 
Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect some of the sun’s energy. Avoid dark-colored clothes that may absorb heat. 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. 

4. Children and cars - use common sense.
Never (ever) leave 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.
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.