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.