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. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

New Carbon Monoxide Alarm Law Will Save Lives

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Montgomery County Fire & Rescue is reminding residents
about new requirements for Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Beginning July 1, 2019, a new law in Montgomery County will require many existing single-unit, two-unit and townhouse dwellings to have Carbon Monoxide Alarms located outside sleeping areas and on every level of a home. Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarms are designed to emit an alarm when high levels of CO are detected but before they reach life-threatening levels.   

The Carbon Monoxide Alarm Law changes are 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 due to the serious danger Carbon Monoxide (CO) poses. CO Alarms provide vital, highly effective and low-cost protection against CO poisoning. If fuel-burning appliances are not working properly or used incorrectly, dangerous levels of CO can result. Properly installed Carbon Monoxide Alarms provide reliable, highly effective and low-cost protection against carbon monoxide poisoning.

The new 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 Carbon Monoxide Alarms beginning July 1, 2019. Maryland State Law has required Carbon Monoxide Alarms in newly-constructed homes since January 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. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 400 people die and 50,000 people are admitted to emergency rooms as the result of CO poisoning each year. Carbon Monoxide Alarms are designed to keep you and your family safe.

Does this new law apply to me?
Homes 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.

What type of Carbon Monoxide Alarms are available? 
There are a wide variety of Carbon Monoxide Alarms on the market and include battery-powered, plug-in and hard-wired Carbon Monoxide Alarms and meet the requirements of the new law.

What about Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms?
For years Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide 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 Carbon Monoxide Alarms can be battery operated, hard wired with a battery back-up or plug-in with a battery back-up. For Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms, the power supply must match the existing Code requirements for your home's smoke alarms.  

Where should Carbon Monoxide Alarms be installed?
Proper placement of Carbon Monoxide Alarms is important. For homes built before 2008, Montgomery County law requires that Carbon Monoxide 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 Carbon Monoxide 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 Carbon Monoxide Alarms.

At what height should Carbon Monoxide Alarms be installed?
Unlike smoke which rises to the ceiling, CO mixes with air. Carbon Monoxide 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.” Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can help you respond quickly in the event of an emergency.

What do the different beeps mean? 
A Carbon Monoxide 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.

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 Carbon Monoxide 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.

When should Carbon Monoxide Alarms be replaced?
Replace Carbon Monoxide 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.

Where can I get Carbon Monoxide Alarms?
Carbon Monoxide 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.

And don’t forget:
  • Emergency generators: Don’t use them in your garage or basement. Put them outside the house at least 20 feet from windows or doors.
  • Maintenance: Have a qualified technician inspect your heating system, water heater and any other fuel-burning appliances every year. If you have a fireplace, the chimney also needs to be checked.
  • Grills and portable camp stoves: Only use them outdoors.
  • Vehicles: Have your car or truck’s exhaust system checked each year. Never warm-up or leave a vehicle running in a garage. Even with the garage door open, dangerous fumes can seep inside the house

    Click here for information on the Carbon Monoxide Law

Monday, July 8, 2019

Summer. Is. Here.

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Five words that save lives --- All Eyes On The Pool! MCFRS officials are urging residents to take proper precautions around the water and to diligently supervise children when they are around any water sources. Whether you’re a seasoned swimmer or just learning how to swim, many water-related injuries can be avoided by knowing what to do and how to stay safe. The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service kicks off the 2019 Summer of Safety Campaign with Water Safety:  

Be attentive.  Research from the National Safe Kid Campaign shows that nearly 9 out of 10 children between the ages of 1 and 14 who drowned were under supervision when they died. How is this possible? Distractions – cell phones, ipads, reading materials, chores and socializing needs to be resisted when YOU are on “lifeguard duty” watching your child. Be engaged and committed to watching them constantly. The study defined supervision as being in someone’s care, not necessarily in direct line of sight.

Learn to swim and never swim alone. One of the best things you can do to stay safe around the water is to learn to swim and to always swim with a buddy. Make sure they know how to tread water, float on their backs and get to the edge of the pool and hang on. Even the most experienced swimmers can become tired or get muscle cramps which might make it difficult to get out of the water safely.  

Teaching your child how to swim does not mean that your child is “drown-proof.” If you have a pool or are visiting a pool, protect your children by supervising them at all times and being prepared in case of an emergency. Consider designating a adult “water watcher” when children are participating in water activities.

Seconds count when it comes to water emergencies. Keep a phone (cell or cordless) by the pool or nearby when engaged in recreational water activities so that you can call 9-1-1 in an emergency.

Learn life-saving skills. Know how to prevent, recognize and respond to emergencies. In the time it might take paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could make a difference in saving someone’s life.

Avoid relying on inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties and “noodles” to keep your child safe. These toys are not designed to keep your child safe, can deflate or shift quickly and should never be used as a substitute for supervision. Use only Coast Guard approved flotation devices that fits your swimmer properly.

Lifeguards are an important safety feature but are NOT intended to replace the close supervision of parents or caregivers. Remember, lifeguards are not babysitters.

Maintain constant supervision of children around water (bathtubs, pools, ornamental backyard ponds, etc.). Never leave a child unattended in the water or pool area. Don't be distracted by phone calls, chores or conversations. If you leave the pool area, take the child with you. Remember: swim lessons are no substitute for the supervision of children. Formal swimming lessons can help protect young swimmers around the water however constant adult supervision is critical. 

Diving dangers. Diving injuries can cause permanent spinal damage, injuries and even death. Protect yourself by diving only in designated areas that are known to be safe, such as the deep end, of a supervised pool. 

Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. Stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather. 

Know Your Limits. Watch for the “dangerous too’s” . . . too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity. 

Water and alcohol don’t mix.
 Each year, up to half of all adult drownings are linked to alcohol use. Never swim impaired. 

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Giving Muscular Dystrophy the Boot -- and the Bat!

Guest author: FFIII John Geiman, Station 7(A) 

MCFRS 2nd Annual "Fill the Boot" softball game for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) was held on Saturday, June 29th.  Montgomery County Fire and Rescue defeated Frederick Fire 14-7 to keep the trophy in Montgomery County for another year.  However, t
his game was not about the trophy -- it was all about the kids.  

As a team MCFRS raised over $1750 in funds for MDA (final total pending) and Fredrick Fire raised a matching amount with a total amount raised in one day by both softball teams over $3500 to support the critical programs of the MDA.  MCFRS also had the privilege of having Devin throw out the 1st pitch.  Devin is a young man fighting muscular dystrophy and through funds raised with MDA was able to receive medication, which has helped him be able to continue to run and play like anyone else.  He is a truly amazing young man and was all smiles while he walked out to throw out the 1st pitch. 

The team is very honored to contribute to an organization that is making a difference in the lives of those affected by MDA and their families. The event would not be possible without the help of Master Firefighter Mike Berry, the Frederick Keys, Derek Young (Frederick County), Deb Gartner (MCFRS retired) and Ken Berman.  The team hopes to grow the game every year going forward with the goal to one day hit that $10,000 mark to support the ground-breaking research and life-enhancing programs of the MDA.   

About the MDA

The Muscular Dystrophy Association is the world’s leading nonprofit health agency dedicated to saving and improving the lives of anyone with muscle disease, including muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neuromuscular diseases. It does so by funding worldwide research to find treatments and cures; by providing comprehensive health care services and support to MDA families nationwide; and by rallying communities to fight back through advocacy, fundraising and local engagement.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Let summer begin!

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It’s finally here … the official first day of SUMMER! Fire Chief Scott Goldstein is kicking off the department’s 2019 “Summer of Safety” campaign and inviting you to follow along. Each week throughout the summer MCFRS will be highlighting a different safety topic.

 DYK that summer is commonly referred to as “trauma season” among public health and medical professionals because unintentional deaths and serious injuries increase dramatically among children? With children out of school and crossing streets without the help of crossing guards or adults, it is no surprise that they are at higher risk of being injured by motor vehicles in the summer months. That 
bike helmet somewhere in the garage? Not optional equipment. It can keep a fall from causing a fatal brain injury. A four-sided fence can help prevent a toddler from entering a pool and drowning. And a correctly installed car seat can help keep a child alive during a car crash. 

At MCFRS, it's simple. Nothing is more important than your safety. Whatever your plans are this summer we’re here to help keep your adventures as safe as they are fun. Stick with us all summer and see what you learn. It might just save a life!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Could Your Dryer Cause a Fire? Let's talk dryer fire facts.

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Over the last several weeks, MCFRS has responded to a number of clothes dryer-related fires. A lack of maintenance, buildup of lint, placing inappropriate items in the dryer and inadequate venting are frequently cited as contributing factors.
Fires can occur when lint builds up in the dryer or in the exhaust duct. Lint can block the flow of air, cause excessive heat build-up, and result in a fire in some dryers. Some important safety tips:

Clean behind the dryer, where lint can build up. Clean around your dryer to minimize the amount of lint accumulation. Keep the area around the dryer clean and free of clutter.

Don't leave a clothes dryer running if you leave the house or go to bed. 

Clean the lint screen/filter before or after drying each load of clothes. If clothing is still damp at the end of a typical drying cycle or drying requires longer times than normal, this may be a sign that the lint screen or the exhaust duct is blocked. 

Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct annually. Check the outside dryer vent while the dryer is operating to make sure exhaust air is escaping. If it is not, the vent or the exhaust duct may be blocked. To remove a blockage in the exhaust path, it may be necessary to disconnect the exhaust duct from the dryer. Remember to reconnect the ducting to the dryer and outside vent before using the dryer again. MCFRS recommends having a qualified service technician clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct annually.

Replace plastic or foil, accordion-type ducting material with rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct. Most manufacturers specify the use of a rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct, which provides maximum airflow. The flexible plastic or foil type duct can more easily trap lint and is more susceptible to kinks or crushing, which can greatly reduce the airflow.

Take special care when drying clothes that have been soiled with volatile chemicals such as gasoline, cooking oils, cleaning agents, or finishing oils and stains. If possible, wash the clothing more than once to minimize the amount of volatile chemicals on the clothes and, preferably, hang the clothes to dry. 

There are several warning signs that dangerous lint buildup has occurred in your dryer and venting system, indicating that it needs a thorough cleaning: 
- Clothes take longer to dry or don't dry fully
- Clothes are hotter than normal at the end of the drying cycle
- Outside of dryer gets very hot
- Outside exhaust vent flapper does not open very much, indicating       low exhaust velocity
- Laundry room becomes more humid than usual
- Burnt smell is evident in the laundry room

Maintenance Tips:
- Inspect the venting system behind the dryer to ensure it is not damaged or restricted.
Make sure the outdoor vent covering opens when the dryer is on. 
- Replace coiled-wire foil or plastic venting with rigid, non-ribbed metal duct.
- Have gas-powered dryers inspected every year by a professional to inspect the dryer and the gas line connection. 
- Check regularly to make sure nests of small animals and insects are not blocking the outside vent.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Change Your Clocks - CHECK Your Smoke Alarms This Weekend

It's that time of year again when we "Spring Forward" and change clocks (unless your clocks do it automatically)! Here are our Top Eight Tips to remember when it comes to smoke alarms and fire safety this weekend:

1. It is indisputable that smoke alarms save lives. Smoke alarms are the best and least expensive way to provide an early warning system to alert you and your family to a potential fire emergency. Smoke alarms are designed to detect a fire in its early stages and alert people so they have time to safely escape.

2. Smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.

3. For the best protection, smoke alarms should be interconnected. What does that mean? When one sounds they all sound alerting you to an emergency early on and giving you critical time to escape. New construction requirements have included hard- wired smoke alarms with battery back-ups since the 1980's. 

4. Nothing lasts forever - including smoke alarms. Smoke alarms become less reliable with time, primarily due to aging of their electronic components making them more susceptible to nuisance false alarms. Replace entire smoke alarm units every 10 years or sooner if they don't respond properly when tested. Why? The sensor wears out and may not activate in an emergency putting your family at risk. Always read the manufacturer’s recommendations as some models recommend replacement every 5-7 years.

5. Never (ever) paint over a smoke alarm. It will affect the operation of the smoke alarm, potentially disabling it.

6. Test your alarms once a month by pressing the test button.

7. Clean your smoke alarm once a month when you test it. Smoke alarms get clogged with dust build-up which may affect performance.

8. If your detector “chirps” it may be time to change the back-up battery in your hard-wired alarm. Since 2018, Maryland law has required all battery-only smoke alarms (permitted in homes built b/f 1975) to have a sealed,10-year long-life battery in the unit so any "chirping" in these units is likely signaling that you need to replace the smoke alarm with a new one. 
Today's home safety and security technology has evolved beyond smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Many families rely on household devices connected to the internet or smartphones to enhance safety and security. New technology can even notify you when the alarm is activated or if the battery is low. Take time this weekend to ensure your family has a fire safety plan. Practice it with a Home Fire Drill to ensure everyone knows what to do in an emergency. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Why are space heaters dangerous? What you need to know.

December through March are peak months for home fire deaths. While space heaters can be a quick way to heat up a chilly room, that warmth comes with a BIG warning label.

Each year, space heaters are involved in 79% of fatal home heating fires. As temperatures drop, here are 10 things you need to know:

  1. Give the heater some space. Keep your space heater at least THREE feet away from anything flammable. That means clothes and blankets, stacks of newspapers, furniture, rugs and even walls. Allow at least three feet of open space on each side of the unit.

  2. Never (ever) use an extension cord with a space heater. To prevent a fire, never plug a high-wattage space heater into an extension cord or multi-outlet strip.

  3. Opt for quality. When shopping for a space heater, select a unit that has all the latest safety features and the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label of approval. Look for cool-to-the-touch housings and automatic shutoff features that turn the unit off if it’s tipped over or overheating. Some units will automatically shut off if their infrared sensors detect a person or object that is too close to the heater panel—making them desirable choices for households with kids or pets.

  4. Never leave a space heater “on” in an unoccupied room. Always turn off a space heater when you leave the room and before going to bed. Throw on some extra blankets and unplug the unit as an extra precaution.

  5. Size matters. Before purchasing a space heater, check the label to see if it is the appropriate size for the area you want to heat.
  6. Make sure your house can handle it. Space heaters use a lot of electricity --- as much as fifteen 100-watt light bulbs. This can be too much for older houses with old wires and electrical circuits. When wires get overheated, fires can also start inside the walls where they are hard to spot. If the circuit breaker trips, don’t plug it back in.
  7. Keep space heaters away from water. Like any electrical device, they pose a shock hazard. To help prevent shocks, avoid using space heaters in rooms where spills and moisture build-ups are likely such at bathrooms and kitchens.
  8. Safety first. Check your heaters regularly – look for frayed wires and remove dust accumulation on grates, grills, coils and other elements of the heater.

  9. Hot, hot, hot. Some parts of the heater can become really hot. Children, seniors and pets are especially vulnerable to getting burned.

  10. Finally, don’t rely on space heaters to heat your home. They’re designed to supplement a central heating strategy – NOT replace it. Make sure every room in which you plan to use a space heater has working smoke alarms and that your house has a carbon monoxide alarm.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Best Valentine's Gift EVER

Last minute shoppers, still looking for a  Valentine’s gift? 

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue officials are recommending smoke alarms as the perfect Valentine’s gift for loved ones. Nothing says you mean everything to me like the 24-hour protection that comes with a smoke alarm. And while you are busy planning the perfect evening, make it memorable for all the right reasons. A few tips to keep in mind:
  • Cooking up a great meal? Stand by your pan. Too many meals are ruined when cooks get distracted or forgetful and leave cooking unattended. As much as Fire/Rescue loves your cooking, you really don’t want us to have to extinguish that perfect meal. Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires so keep anything that can catch fire – potholders, paper or plastic bags, dish towels, newspapers and curtains – away from your stovetop, oven and appliances that generate heat.
  • Candles may look festive and set the mood however unattended candles account for thousands of fires annually. The National Fire Protection Association reports that, on average, a candle fire in the home is reported to a US Fire Department every 30 minutes. Consider battery-operated, flameless candles instead. You really can’t tell the difference!
  • Lighting up the fireplace? Make sure that’s all you light up. Believe it or not, every year people dispose of fireplace ashes before they have sufficiently cooled. Keep your ash out of the trash and only dispose of fireplace ashes in a sealed, metal container located far from anything combustible. Never dispose of fireplace ashes in your recycling bin, trash can, paper or plastic bags or in a garage, carport or on a deck or porch. 
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue wants you to have a great Valentine’s Day. Remember, smoke alarms save lives. They make great gifts, one-size-fits-all and MCFRS will even come out and check your alarms for free! Just call 311 or visit www.mcfrs.org/mcsafe for info.