Thursday, January 21, 2016

Fire and Rescue Crews Storm Ready – Are You?

mcfrs fire truck in the snowFire and Rescue leadership has been preparing since early this week, and are ready, as a strong winter storm system predicted for the region arrives tomorrow. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue will increase staffing to meet expected demand and have all available equipment and resources strategically positioned around the County. The department has a team of personnel closely, and continuously, monitoring the storm as projected snow, along with blizzard conditions, begins to arrive in the area.

Montgomery County fire officials provide the following tips and are asking residents to plan ahead, be ready and be safe:

Stay informed by monitoring TV news, radio, the National Weather Service and the internet as storm information is updated throughout the day that may affect you and your family. Sign up for Alert Montgomery at to receive text alerts and emergency information.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue social media platforms will be operating at various points throughout the storm however will not be a 24-hour source of timely EMERGENCY information. For this weather event on Twitter, use the hashtag #MoCoSnow and the primary platforms used will be:

Ensure your cell phones, laptops, iPad, tablets and other important devices are fully charged BEFORE the storm.

If possible, stay off the roads and heed the advice of local officials. Overall, most winter storm deaths result from vehicle or other transportation accidents caused by ice and snow. Residents should avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain, snow, dense fog and high winds. These are serious conditions that are often underestimated and can make driving, and even walking, very hazardous.

Stay prepared by getting your emergency preparedness kit out and having a ready supply of essential items (food, water, batteries, flashlights, battery-operated radio, blankets, etc.).

Use extreme caution around downed or damaged power lines. Do not remove fallen tree limbs or other debris from power lines, never drive over down lines and treat all wires – even those that are hanging or down – as if they are “live” (energized) and call 911 to report them.

Do NOT use candles for lighting. Using candles during a power outage poses an extreme risk of fire. Use flashlights or battery-powered lighting options and make sure you have a battery-operated radio to keep up-to-date.

Fire and Rescue response times may be affected by the extreme weather. It’s a great time to make sure the batteries in your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm are fresh. Test all smoke alarms to ensure they are working. Reach out to your neighbors who may need help, especially those that are elderly, disabled or infirmed.

Please only call 911 for emergencies. Crews will be in high demand throughout the storm. If you do not have a life-threatening emergency, call 311 for assistance.

Pedestrians should wear brightly colored clothing so drivers can see them, especially in times of poor visibility. Use reflective clothing or stickers for maximum visibility.

Shoveling snow can be dangerous to your health. Some winter storms produce enough snow that will make it difficult to shovel, especially for those that have an existing heart condition or anyone over the age of 50. Limit shoveling to only a few minutes at a time, shovel smaller amounts and take frequent breaks. Listen to your body and STOP if you feel pain or experience any warning signs of a heart attack. Symptoms of a heart attack may include dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting, nausea as well as shoulder, neck and arm pain. Always seek medical attention immediately if you believe you are having a medical emergency.

Fire Chief Scott Goldstein is asking residents to, if you are safely and physically able to do so, help firefighters and clear snow away from fire hydrants. The expected snow accumulations combined with the after-effects of plowing roads may result in many fire hydrants partially or completely buried in snow. By keeping fire hydrants clear of snow, residents can help firefighters to easily locate hydrants and access water quickly, preserving valuable time to potentially save lives and structures.

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