Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Montgomery County Car Seat Program Keeps Our Kids Safe - Again!


October 31, 2019 (Aspen Hill Inspection Station) – During a routine car seat appointment at the Safe Kids Inspection Station in Aspen Hill, technician Master Firefighter Ian St. John with Fire and Rescue Service discovered a potential serious problem with a car seat.

During the visit, the parent asked the technician about rotating the rear-facing seat to a forward-facing position for her 3-year-old child.  However, the child weighed 25 pounds and, although this car seat allows children weighing 22 pounds to go forward-facing, the technician advised the parent that given the child’s lower weight, it was better to keep the child rear-facing. The parent agreed and taking advantage of the car seat being out of the car, the technician decided to vacuum the car seat.

While the car seat was being cleaned, the technician noticed that the shoulder harness straps were twisted. As the harness straps were being readjusted, the technician noticed a hesitation when the harness strap was pulled. Tracing the problem through the pathways of the car seat harness system, the technician found a cut and frayed harness strap. The cut was found in an area not usually seen and was only found by extending the straps completely during the inspection.

Frayed and/or cut harness straps can be dangerous because fraying could cause the harness strap to break. If the straps break, the car seat is inoperable. In a crash, the straps could break and lead to a serious injury.
In this case, the technician advised the parent that the frayed harness rendered the car seat inoperable.  The parent ordered a new car seat online and was provided a loaner car seat until the new one arrived.

Just another instance of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service Car Seat Program working with caregivers in a partnership of safety.

For more information or to get your car seat(s) inspected, please call 240-777-2223 or check us out at:

Friday, November 22, 2019

Fireplace Safety 101

When is the last time you had your chimney inspected? Fireplaces can add extra heat in the winter, but if they're not properly maintained, they can also become a hazard.
The purpose of a chimney is to carry hazardous gases and smoke out of your home. If chimneys are not cleaned regularly, residue called creosote can build up inside your chimney and catch fire. When you clean your chimney and have it inspected periodically, you help ensure there is a clear pathway for gasses and heat to escape.
If you're planning on firing up the fireplace, please keep the following tips in mind to help prevent chimney fires:
  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned at least once a year by a chimney professional. A chimney professional will make sure your chimney is structurally sound and will remove creosote buildup and any other debris (such as animal nests).
  •  Important: COOL your ashes and then CAN your ashes. Embers from fires can retain heat and reignite for days after the original fire.
  • Only burn dried-out wood - cardboard, trash, or other objects can burn very quickly and the flames can get out of control. Never dispose of a Christmas tree in your fireplace. Like ever. 
  • Never (ever) use flammable liquids! You're not lighting the grill. No charcoal, no lighter fluid, no kerosene, no gasoline. 
  • Keep your fireplace doors opened or cracked when burning a fire, as restricted air supply can cause creosote buildup.
  • Stay on the lookout for signs of chimney fires. Indications of chimney fires include dense smoke and a loud rumbling noise (often compared to a freight train). If you think you have a chimney fire, get everyone safely out of your home and call 911. Never attempt to fight the fire yourself. 
  • It is important to note that some chimney fires are slow-burning and may not make loud noises or have lots of smoke. These can cause damage to your home as well and weaken the structure of your chimney.
  • Make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are WORKING. We're not kidding when we say that carbon monoxide is the "silent killer"and you MUST keep those carbon monoxide detectors in good shape.  
  • Working smoke alarms? We know - you're too smart not to have them in your home and that you test them as often as you check your phone.
  • Chimney fires often lead to house fires. It's important to follow safe fire-burning practices and keep regular maintenance on your chimney.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Thanksgiving Wins FIRST Place - For Most Cooking Fires!

More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein is urging residents to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday and to keep safety at the top of everyone’s “to do” list this holiday season. “Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a rookie cooking your first holiday feast, the strategies for serving up a safe meal are the same,” said Chief Goldstein. “Unattended cooking is the leading cause of residential fires and we’re asking residents to follow these simple safety tips and to have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday.

Cooking Safety Tips:


  • Be alert! Stay in the kitchen when using the stove top and use a timer. If you must leave the kitchen, even for a minute, turn off the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire at least 3 feet from the stove, toaster oven or other heat source. This includes pot holders, food packaging, dish towels, paper/plastic bags, etc.
  • Do not pour water on a grease fire. Pouring water on a grease fire can cause the fire to spread. In the event of a range-top fire, turn off the burner, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding a lid or cookie sheet onto the pan. Leave the lid in place until the pot or pan has cooled.
  • Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease buildup which can ignite.
  • Always wear short, tight-fitting sleeves when cooking to prevent clothing from coming in contact with a burner and catching fire.
  • Do not hold children while cooking or carrying hot foods or drinks. Keep children at a safe distance from hot surfaces, liquids and other kitchen hazards.
  •  Plug microwaves and other kitchen appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.
  • Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave the house. Make sure all other appliances are turned off and that any candles or smoking materials are safely extinguished.
  • Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, test alarms monthly and change batteries annually or as recommended by the manufacturer if your alarm features long-life batteries.

  • Turkey fryers are becoming an increasingly popular choice to cook the Thanksgiving turkey and can be extremely dangerous if proper precautions are not taken. If your plans include using a turkey fryer, fire department officials urge residents to follow all manufacturer directions closely and to review the following safety tips: 

    Turkey Fryer Safety Tips:




  • Never leave a fryer unattended.
  • By design, turkey fryers are prone to tipping over. Fryers should always be used on a non-combustible, flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
  • Fryers should always be used outdoors at least 10 feet from buildings and any flammable materials. Never use a fryer on a wooden deck, under a patio cover, in a garage, porch or other enclosed space.
  • Do not overfill the fryer. The oil may spill out of the unit when the turkey is placed into the cooking pot. Oil may hit the burner/flames resulting in a potential fire hazard that could engulf the entire unit.
  • Oil and water do not mix! Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before it is placed in a fryer. Partially frozen turkeys can cause a spillover effect which may result in a fire. 
  • Some units do not have thermostat controls and, if not carefully watched, have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching the pot or lid handle. The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles get dangerously hot and can result in severe burns. If available, use safety goggles to protect your eyes from any oil splatter.
  • Keep children and pets away from fryers. The oil can remain dangerously hot even hours after use.

  • Following these simple fire safety tips can reduce injuries dramatically.  For more information about our fire safety programs or to request a free home safety evaluation or smoke alarm check, call 311 during business hours or visit our website at www.mcfrs.org/mcsafe any time.
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    Tuesday, October 29, 2019

    Time to Fall Back - Some SOUND Advice

    For Spanish click here

    Fire Chief Scott Goldstein is reminding residents that one simple task can be a potentially life-saving one. The Chief is urging all residents to check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they are working when they change their clocks this weekend and to also practice a home fire drill. "The busiest time for home fires is during the fall and winter months. A working smoke alarm  provides critical early warning of a fire resulting in more time to react and put a fire escape plan into action. We're asking all residents to take a few minutes to check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms this weekend.  It could just be a life-saver." 
    Two minutes? Experts say you may have less than 2 minutes to escape a fire. Did you know the peak time for home fire fatalities is between 11 pm and 6 am when most families are sleeping? Help keep your family safe by following these fire safety tips:

    1. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement (finished or unfinished) and in all sleeping areas. If you have a larger home you'll want to consider adding more alarms and interconnected alarms will alert you to an emergency sooner. Be sure to check out all the "smart" features available -- alarms don't just sound the alarm, they can also alert your phone and more!   

    2. Three words: Smoke Alarms Expire. Retire old smoke alarms and replace with new ones EVERY 10 years from the date of manufacture printed on the back or as recommended by the manufacturer. Be sure to follow County Code requirements for the type of smoke alarms required for your home.

    3. Plan and practice home fire drills. Decide in advance who will help family members that may need assistance escaping (young children, older adults or people with disabilities) and establish an outside "meeting place" where everyone will meet.     

    4. Make sure children recognize the sound of your smoke alarm and how to respond to its signal.

    5. Know your battery type. Maryland’s Smoke Alarm Law (effective 1/2018) requires battery-only smoke alarms to have sealed in, 10-year long-life batteries which last the life of the alarm. The updates to the law emphasize the use of sealed, 10-year battery-powered smoke alarms however it is important to understand that battery-only smoke alarms are only appropriate where battery-operated smoke alarms are permitted by Code (generally in homes built b/f 1975) before hard-wired smoke alarm technology was developed. Remember: it is never acceptable to remove required hard-wired smoke alarms and replace with any type of battery-only smoke alarm.   

    Questions? Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service is here to help! Call 311 or visit us on line to schedule your free home safety check. Be sure to bookmark our website for year-round safety information at: mcfrs.org/mcsafe


    Wednesday, October 23, 2019

    Countdown to Halloween

    Tips for a Safe and Fun Night
    According to the National Safety Council, Halloween is the day when children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed than on any other day. With Halloween quickly approaching, Fire Chief Scott Goldstein and the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service offers some important tips for a safe Halloween.

    Plan a safe route.
    1. Accompany children and remind them to stop at all street corners, cross only at intersections and crosswalks. Teach them to look left, right and left before crossing the street and to continue looking both ways as they cross. If you’re a motorist, please slow down and be prepared to give trick or treaters a brake.

    2. Stay in familiar neighborhoods and have a parent or responsible adult accompany trick or treaters. Visit only those houses where the lights are on. Accept treats only in the doorway and NEVER go inside a house or apartment.

    3. Secure emergency identification (name, address, phone number) discreetly within Halloween attire or on a bracelet.

    4. Safety in numbers.  If they’re old enough to trick-or-treat without an adult, designate a route before the kids go trick or treating, tell your kids to stay in a group, avoid taking short cuts through backyards and alleys and ask them to check in regularly.

    5. Ensure trick-or-treaters stay away from open flames or jack-o-lanterns with candles burning.

    6. Children should avoid busy streets, always use sidewalks, and follow all traffic rules and regulations. Motorists should drive slowly and be alert to small children crossing streets. Many accidents occur when motorists are backing vehicles out of driveways, unaware of the presence of small children.

    Be Safe – Be Seen.
    1. Don’t assume the right-of-way. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters in the dark. Just because one car stops doesn’t mean others will.

    2. Encourage kids to follow all the rules for pedestrian safety. That includes obeying all traffic laws, looking both ways before crossing, using crosswalks, crossing at intersections and corners and never darting between parked cars.

    Be a good neighbor.
    1.  Keep your porch lights on and eliminate tripping hazards on your porch and walkway. Remove outdoor safety hazards such as toys, bicycles, garden hoses and lawn ornaments. Make sure the driveway and steps are cleared of leaves, which can be a slipping and falling hazard. Make sure that the driveway and walks are well lit for incoming trick-or-treaters. Replace burned-out or broken light bulbs.

    2. Pets get frightened on Halloween. Confine your pets for their safety and for that of trick or treaters.

    All Dressed Up.
    1. Plan costumes that are bright and have reflective qualities. Consider adding reflective tape or decals to costumes and trick or treat bags. Be sure kids carry a flashlight and use glow sticks for extra visibility.

    2. When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories purchase only those with a label indicating they are flame resistant.

    3. Have an adult inspect treats BEFORE eating anything. Do not eat any unwrapped, partially wrapped, or homemade-looking treats.

    4. Shorter IS safer. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.

    5. Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup as a safer alternative.
    6. If a sword, cane or stick is part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if they trip or fall.

    Decorate Safely.
    1. Illuminate your jack-o’-lanterns with flashlights or battery-operated candles instead of real ones. You won’t have the worries of an open flame coming in contact with anything  . . .or anyone.

    2. If you do use candles, keep them well away from where trick or treaters will be walking or standing.  Review with your children the principle of “stop, drop and roll” should their clothing catch fire. 

    Lastly, teach children how to call 9-1-1 if they have an emergency or become lost.