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.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Cold Weather Problems - Precautions To Prevent Water Pipes From Freezing


With below-freezing temperatures in the forecast, a few simple steps can keep you and your family safe and your home's pipes from freezing. Please review the below tips to help minimize the possibility or damage.


  • 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.
  • Properly winterize automatic landscaping sprinkler systems. 
  • Check and monitor any exposed pipes in unheated areas such as basements, garages, attics and crawlspaces.
  • Locate the main water shut off for your home so that if a pipe bursts, you can shut off the water and minimize damage.
  • Open cabinet doors in the kitchen and bathrooms to let heat in and around the plumbing.  Especially important if some of these pipes run up against outside walls. If you open cabinet doors, be sure to remove anything that may pose a safety hazard to children, such as household cleaners.
  • Keep any garage doors closed if there are water pipes or supply lines in the garage.  If attached to home and safe, consider opening the door to the garage to allow some home heat to enter the garage. While your heating bill may take a hit, the cost will not compare to costly repairs from water damage.
  • DO NOT use kerosene or other fuel fed heating devices in the garage to heat it.
  • Let water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe (even at a dribble) can help prevent pipes from freezing.
  • DO NOT use a blow torch, r or any other open flame to try and thaw out potentially frozen pipes!
  • Mobile homes are typically more vulnerable to frozen pipes so take proper precautions. 
  • Keep the thermostat set to no lower than 55° F during the evening hours or if you will be leaving the home for an extended period of time (day or night).
 
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 www.mcfrs.org/mcsafe for more safety tips.

Stay informed. Sign up for Alert Montgomery. For information, visit https://alert.montgomerycountymd.gov/register.php