Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Safety First: The Dangers of Windows

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Fact: Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injuries in children less than 14 years of age. More than 80% of fall-related injuries among children ages 4 and under occur in the home.

You've child-proofed your home room-by-room. You've check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. You've covered all electrical outlets and you've even mastered how to install your car seat. But there is one potential hazard you may have missed or underestimated. As cooler weather arrives and people are opening their windows again, be aware of young children who may have access to windows -- and not just in high rise buildings. Many falls occur from modest heights. 

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. While most windows have screens, they are not designed to provide protection to keep a child safe.  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.
  • Remind grandparents and other caregivers about window safety.
  • Always supervise children and keep their play area (or "home school" area) away from windows.

Toddlers are top-heavy. Their heads are bigger in proportion to the rest of their body than adults.This means they are more likely to fall head first, injuring their skull and brain upon impact. Window falls can happen quickly and, in some cases, be deadly. 
  • If you see that a child has fallen out of a window and is lying on the ground not moving, do not move them. Call 911 and wait for emergency responders.
  • Seek medical attention after a window fall, even if your child appears to have no injuries. 

Friday, September 4, 2020

Did someone say "Virtual Car Seat Check?'

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In mid-March we suspended all in-person car seat checks to reduce the spread of Covid-19. Like many other services, our resources went online. We began to offer virtual car seat checks in late March and continue to offer this service.

The Covid pandemic has upended almost all facets of our lives. Still, babies are being born and parents, grandparents, and other caregivers continue to need to transport kids in vehicles safely. To that end, MCFRS’ Car Seat Program has had to modify the way we provide caregivers with child passenger safety resources. Our goal continues to be to provide high quality, relevant, and timely child passenger safety assistance to all caregivers in need.

Virtual Car Seat Assistance

Our virtual car seat check appointments mirror what we would do during a regular in-person car seat check. We verify that the seats are not expired and operational. If the caregivers have already installed the seat, we take the necessary steps to ensure that the car seat is installed correctly. If it is not, we will walk the caregiver through the steps to correctly install the car seat. If the caregiver has not installed the seat, we provide step by step instructions. We always have our computers open to that car seat’s instruction manual as a reference and we have a demonstration car seat to provide guidance on our end of the video.

Once the car seat is correctly installed, we review the features of that specific car seat and we demonstrate how to correctly harness a child into the car seat using our demonstration seats and dolls. We also take the time to answer all questions that the caregiver may have. As with in-person car seat checks, our goal at the end of the virtual appointment is to make the caregiver feel comfortable and confident using their car seat and that all their questions have been addressed. To schedule a virtual car seat appointment with us, visit .

However, MCFRS is not the only program to offer virtual car seat appointments. Most car seat manufacturers have begun offering virtual appointments to assist that families that bought that manufacturer’s car seat. Maryland Kids in Safety Seats, a statewide program, also provides virtual car seat appointments as does the Fitzgerald Auto Mall group.

Telephone Assistance

MCFRS’ car seat program continues to offer assistance via phone.  If you have any questions related to car seats such as when to move you child from one stage of car seats to the next or if you feel that a part of the car seat is not functioning properly or not correctly installed, give us a call. Need to schedule a virtual car seat appointment?  Call us at 240-777-2223 and we’ll gladly answer your questions.

Online Resources and Videos

We have also posted valuable resources and links to videos on our website. We provide links to videos on how to properly install car seat. There are many videos online, especially on YouTube, that offer guidance on how to install car seats but not all of them provide correct information. To address this, we have video links to reputable organizations. We also have links to other national car seat organizations and car seat manufacturers. In some cases, caregivers feel more comfortable going directly to the car seat manufacturer to address their questions or concerns and we provide those direct links. Visit our resources page: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/mcfrs-info/tips/parents/carseats.html.

Please remember to never leave a child alone in the car and always buckle up! Everyone, every ride. Stay safe and healthy.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Staying Safe: Extreme Heat in the Forecast

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Fire Chief Scott Goldstein is urging residents to stay cool, stay hydrated and to check on loved ones, the elderly and neighbors who may be more vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat.“Heat emergencies are more common when temperatures rise and the humidity is high. Staying hydrated is essential all year long but is particularly important when temperatures soar. Make simple changes in your fluid intact, activities and clothing to help reduce the risk of hyperthermia and heat stroke.” 

The Chief reminds residents to stay informed by listening to local weather and news channels, signing up for AlertMontgomery and continuing to follow local COVID-19 best practices and regulations when out in public.

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

2.  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.

3.  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.

4. Hot cars can be deadly.
Never, ever leave children, pets or the elderly in a parked car -- even with the windows down. Temperatures can become life-threatening in minutes. Hot interior surfaces of a car can burn. 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 to avoid burns. 

- Make it a habit of opening the rear door of the car every time you park to ensure no one is left inside. Park. Look. Lock. 

- To enforce this habit, please an item that you can't start your day without such as your cell phone, purse, one of your shoes, briefcase, employee badge, etc.

- When at home, keep your vehicle locked at all times, even in the garage.  
 

5. Don’t over-exercise.
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. Read below for more important information.

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 while being mindful of social distance protocols. Offering to put/retrieve trash cans or recycles might not seem like a big deal to you – but it might be a big help to them. 

7. Protect your pets in hot weather.
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 quickly reach 120 degrees, even on a 70 degree day. 



Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat Emergencies


Signs of Heat Exhaustion
  • Faint or dizzy
  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Cold, pale and clammy skin
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
What to do:
  • Move to a cooler location
  • Lie down and loosen your clothing
  • Apply cool, wet cloths or compresses to as much of your body as possible
  • Sip water
Signs of Heat Stroke
  • Throbbing headache
  • No sweating
  • High body temperature (above 103 degrees F)
  • Hot, red, dry or moist skin
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Possible unconsciousness
What to do:
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately--THIS IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY
  • Move the person to a cooler environment
  • Reduce the person's body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath
  • Do NOT give the person fluids

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Officials Remind Residents of the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbon Monoxide Alarms on the One-Year Anniversary of the Law

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A year ago, a law in Montgomery County went into effect requiring many existing single-unit, two-unit and townhouse dwellings to have Carbon Monoxide Alarms which alert occupants to the presence of potentially deadly gas.  

The Carbon Monoxide Alarm Law changes were the result of an initiative by Council Member Craig Rice and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue officials to promote carbon monoxide safety, education and awareness d
ue to the serious danger Carbon Monoxide (CO) poses.

The 2019 law requires all single, two-unit, and townhouse dwellings built before 2008 that have a fuel-burning appliance, fireplace or attached garage to install and maintain CO Alarms on every level of the home and outside sleeping areas. Maryland State Law has required CO Alarms in newly-constructed homes since 2008.

_________________________________________

Why is this important?
Carbon Monoxide is often called the "silent killer" because it is odorless, tasteless and invisible making this toxic gas one of the most overlooked, and potentially deadly, dangers in homes. CO Alarms monitor your home 24/7 and  are designed to emit an alarm when high levels of CO are detected but before they reach life-threatening levels ... and only cost about $20.
 
Does the law apply to me?
Homes in Montgomery County built before 2008 that are powered by electricity and do not have a fuel-burning appliance, fireplace or attached garage are not required to install Carbon Monoxide Alarms however fire officials recommend CO Alarms in all homes.

What if my Carbon Monoxide Alarm sounds?
Immediately have everyone in the home get outdoors to fresh air and call 911 from outside the building. Because CO Alarms can detect low levels of carbon monoxide, your alarm may activate before anyone feels ill. Signs of CO poisoning don't always happen right away. CO poisoning can happen gradually over a period of days or even weeks, depending on the levels of CO in your home. Re-enter your home only after it has been deemed safe by emergency responders.

Where should Carbon Monoxide Alarms be installed?
Proper placement of CO Alarms is important and you want protection on every level of your home. For homes built before 2008, Montgomery County law requires that CO Alarms be installed:
  • On every occupiable level of the residence including basements, excluding attics and crawl spaces.
  • Outside sleeping areas.

For homes built after January 1, 2008 CO Alarms should be installed in accordance with the applicable building codes at the time of construction or alteration/modification. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing CO Alarms.

What type of Carbon Monoxide Alarms are available? 

There are a wide variety of CO Alarms on the market and include battery-powered, plug-in and hard-wired CO Alarms and meet the requirements of the new law.

What about Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms?
For years Smoke Alarms and CO Alarms were separate units. Recently, alarms have been manufactured that have the technology to detect both smoke and carbon monoxide. These "combination alarms" need to match the power source for the home's smoke alarms. 
  
Are battery operated or hard wired Carbon Monoxide Alarms required by the new law?
For properties built before 2008, the power source for your CO Alarms can be battery operated, hard wired with a battery back-up or plug-in with a battery back-up. For combination Smoke and CO Alarms, the power supply must match the existing Code requirements for your home's smoke alarms.  

At what height should Carbon Monoxide Alarms be installed?
Unlike smoke which rises to the ceiling, CO mixes with air. CO Alarms may be installed at any height. However, if a combination smoke/CO alarm is used it must be installed on or near the ceiling, per manufacturer’s instructions, to ensure that it can detect smoke effectively.

What are the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning?
The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, shortness of breath, upset stomach, chest pain and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” Knowing the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can help you respond quickly in the event of an emergency.

What do the different beeps mean? 
A CO Alarm has different beep patterns to communicate whether there is an emergency or simply a service or maintenance issue.  It is important to know the difference between the different beep patterns. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions. This information is often printed on the back of the alarm.

When should Carbon Monoxide Alarms be replaced?
Replace CO Alarms when the manufacturer’s replacement date is reached, when the alarm fails to respond to an operability test, or the end-of-life signal is active. CO Alarms typically have a service life of 7 – 10 years.

Where can I get Carbon Monoxide Alarms?
CO Alarms are available for purchase at many stores and on-line. Only purchase alarms that are approved by UL (Underwriters Laboratories) in order to ensure that your alarms meet their strict testing and safety requirements.


Click here for information on the Carbon Monoxide Law






Wednesday, June 24, 2020

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS - Routes for June 26 (4 - 6 pm)

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What makes Montgomery County great is its community! We'll be mobilizing an important message during this week's Friday Night Lights to remind all our friends to please complete their 2020 Census. It takes less than 5 minutes and will have tremendous impact on funding for Montgomery County (and public safety) for the next DECADE! Can we count you in?

FRIENDLY REMINDER: While our crews are excited to see everyone, their first and foremost job is responding to emergencies. Because of this, we would ask that you please be understanding as firefighter crews may need to alter, delay or cancel their routes.

How do I find out if MCFRS will be visiting my neighborhood this week?

Below please find a listing of the communities and streets that we plan to visit on June 26th.  Find your color-coded "Battalion" on the map and check out the list below.


Please Note:We will not be able to drive through every Montgomery County neighborhood or down every street, but will do our best to make it to as many areas as possible. MCFRS crews will remain in service to respond to emergencies, so may get pulled away to respond to calls. Please be alert to this. Thank you for adhering to social distancing guidelines and do not approach the fire trucks or equipment as they drive by. We can’t wait to see you … from 6 feet away. Please be sure to check your smoke alarms and there’s never been a better (or more important) time to have a home fire drill! 

Battalion 1 - Neighborhoods
  • Unit Blk of Dale Dr. to 700 Blk of Dale Dr, then 500 Blk of Ellsworth 800 Blk of Ellsworth Dr.
  • Ethan Allen Ave, Prince George's Ave, Woodland Ave, and Sycamore Ave
  • Mcknew Rd and Cedar Tree Dr Neighborhood
  • Northwood Park
  • Montgomery Hills Neighborhood - Seminary Rd to Hale St, Osborn Dr, Warren, Westview Dr., Riley Rd, 2nd Ave, Linden Ln, Monroe St
Battalion 2 - Neighborhoods
  • Glenbrook Rd; Bettery Ln; Wilson Ln; Exeter Rd; Fairfax Rd; Moorland Ln; Del Ray Ave; Cordell Ave; Edgemoor Ln; Woodmont Ave; Hampden Ln; and Arlington Rd.
  • Preston Pl. Leland St. Blackthorn St. Woodbine St. 
  • Mirriam st, Barlow End, Winsome Circle Neighborhood at end of Grovensor Lane
  • Stanmore neighborhood (Stanmore Dr to Pleasant Hill Dr to Belmart Dr to Brickyard Rd, including all side streets)
Battalion 3 - Neighborhoods
  • Travis Ave. and all Croos Streets 
  • Farmhaven Drive neighborhood and Rollins Avenue neighborhood between Evelyn Drive and Lorraine Drive
  • Towne Crest Dr, Fairhaven Dr, Amity Dr (and side streets), Epsilon Dr (and side streets)
  • Copen Meadow Dr, Carrington Hill Dr, Nursery Ln, McDonald Chapel Dr, Hillstone Rd, Orchard Dr, Seurat neighborhood
  • Downtown Crown Neighborhood
  • Marseille Dr. and various streets north to Tuckerman Lane
Battalion 4 - Neighborhoods
  • Alexander Manor
  • 4500 Blk Gaynor Road, 12400 Blk Dewey Road, 4500 Blk Furman Road, 12500 Blk Veirs Mill Road
  • Emory Lane, Jasmine Dr, Carrolton Rd, Sunflower Dr, Red Clover Dr, Flower Valley Dr
Battalion 5 - Neighborhoods
  • Little Bennett Dr and Little Bennett CT and neighborhoods.
  • Rolling Fork Way; including the loops and courts that connect to it
  • Cissel Manor Dr., Billek Ct., McKernon Way, Hackett Ct., Lewis Orchard Way
  • Matteny Road from Rt. 118 to Clopper & Cinnamon Drive
  • Crossridge dr, Ridgecrest dr, Stoneybottom rd, Gunnerfield la, and all side strr
  • Milestone Manor Lane, Stardrift Drive, Emerald Drive, Royal Crown Drive and associated side streets 
  • Shawnee Lane, Timbercreek Lane, Brook Point Way, Needle Drive, Dancrest Drive