Wednesday, January 22, 2014

News Advisory: Early Morning Fatal Fire in Kensington

70-year-old man transported to area hospital succumbs to injuries

Montgomery County, MD - - Units from Montgomery County Fire and Rescue were dispatched about 4:30 a.m. this morning to the 3900 block of Decatur Avenue in Kensington for the report of a kitchen fire. Firefighters quickly arrived on the scene and located a man severely burned in the kitchen area of the home. Medics provided advanced life support and the victim was transported to an area hospital with critical, life-threatening injuries where he later died. The victim has been identified as Thomas Dolan Geoghegan, 70 years old, of Kensington, Maryland.

Fire investigators have ruled the fire accidental and the State Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the official cause of death. The home’s smoke alarm alerted other occupants of the home to the fire. Units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service will be out in the community distributing information on fire safety and offering to check smoke alarms. Damage estimates to the home were $300.00.

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Cold Weather Tips For Home And Outside

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue offers the following tips as more cold weather arrives in the area. With gusty winds and temps with wind chills predicted to drop well below zero, it’s important to be prepared, monitor the weather, be safe and take a minute to check on elderly or home bound neighbors and friends. 

At Home
Give space heaters space and ensure at least 3 feet clearance from combustibles (anything that can burn). Dedicate an outlet for the space heater and do not overload the electrical circuit. Always stay in the room while a space heater is operating, turn it off when leaving the area or room and follow manufacturer recommendations when using space heaters.

Firing up the fireplace? Never discard ashes inside or near the home. Let them completely cool down and place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house, garage or decks or other combustibles. NEVER dispose of ashes in a paper or plastic bag, cardboard box, trash can, recycling bin or bucket. Ashes can remain hot enough to rekindle several days after a fire. 
Remember: no ash in the trash.

Never use a range or an oven as a supplemental heating device. Not only is it a safety hazard, it can be a source of potentially toxic fumes.

Make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning by installing a CO detector in your home and be sure to test your smoke alarm monthly to ensure it’s working. Remember, never warm-up your car in an attached garage or carport.

Winter Driving
Keep a cold weather kit in your car. Include important safety items such as a fully charged cell phone, a blanket, flashlight, ice scraper, gloves, hat, scarf and a first-aid kit.

- Fill up a gallon size baggie with kitty litter to keep in the car during the winter in case you get stuck in the ice.

- Be sure to have the proper amount of antifreeze in your vehicle. Antifreeze works to prevent your engine block from freezing.

- Check your wipers and ensure you have plenty of windshield wiper fluid. Want your wipers to last longer? Don’t turn them on until after they’re cleared of ice and snow.
Pedestrian Safety
Slippery driveways and sidewalks can be particularly hazardous in the winter. Keep them well-shoveled and apply materials such as rock salt or sand to improve traction.

Icy Dangers
It is a good time to talk to your kids about cold weather safety. Extra care is needed, especially with younger children, to ensure they are prepared for the bitter cold weather in the forecast.

- Ice dangers: Despite the cold temps, there is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice in our region. Remind children to stay away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water that may appear to be frozen or have a thin coating of ice. 

- If you witness someone falling through the ice, the best way to help them is to immediately call 9-1-1 so rescue personnel can quickly be dispatched. Resist the urge to go out on the ice after them or else you could fall through too. Would-be rescuers frequently become victims when they fall through the ice as well.

- Keep an eye on the location where the victim is so you can direct rescuers to that location.

- While waiting for rescue personnel to arrive on the scene, extend or throw a long object to the victim such as rope, pole, tree limb or even a scarf to help pull them to shore. If using a rope, have the victim tie the rope around them in case they become weakened by the cold and are unable to hold onto the rope. Reassure them that help is on the way and if they are able to self-rescue out of the water take immediate measures to keep them warm to help prevent hypothermia while waiting for rescue personnel to arrive.

-  Keep dogs on leashes around frozen bodies of waters. Many dogs are seriously injured or killed after falling through ice.

Sledding Safety
The high incidence of sledding injuries is related to a combination of speed, steep hills, bumpy terrain and often icy conditions. Make sure that sledding areas do not cross any traffic areas and are clear of hazards such as trees, rocks, fences, telephone poles, ponds and other dangers. The majority of sledding injuries are caused by collisions. Remember the safest sledding position is feet first. Sledding headfirst increases the risk of head injury and should be avoided.  Fire officials in Montgomery County recommend that children wear a helmet when sledding. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Cold Weather Problems - Freezing Weather Ahead: Protect Your Pipes

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue reminds residents that it’s not too late to prepare for the cold weather ahead. With below-freezing temperatures in the forecast this week, a few simple steps can keep your family safe and your home’s pipes from freezing. Fire officials offer the following tips to prepare your home for winter weather:

1. Prepare your pipes in advance. Remove, drain and store garden hoses used outside. If practical, use an inside valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing pipes just inside your house.
2.  Properly winterize automatic landscaping sprinkler systems.
3.  Check and monitor any exposed pipes in unheated areas such as basements, garages, attics and crawlspaces.
4.  As temperatures drop below freezing, protect indoor sink pipes located along exterior walls by opening under-sink cabinet doors to allow heat to circulate.
5. Consider keeping your thermostat at the same temperature during the day and at night. While temporarily suspending any pre-programmed energy-efficient settings could result in a slightly higher utility bill, it might prevent a costly repair bill if pipes freeze and break.
6. If your pipes break, seek the assistance of a professional plumber and never use a hair dryer or other appliance to thaw frozen pipes – you risk electrocution.
7. If you are going to be away during the cold weather, leave the heat on in your home and set the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees.
8. Mobile homes are typically more vulnerable to frozen pipes so take proper precautions.
9. Stay informed. Sign up for Alert Montgomery. For information, visit
Please check on your elderly neighbors and friends who may need additional assistance to ensure their safety and always having working smoke alarms in your home. Visit us at for more safety tips.