Saturday, May 28, 2022

DROWNING: It Can Happen in an Instant

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Five words that save lives --- All Eyes On The Pool! MCFRS officials are urging residents to diligently supervise children when around any water sources. Whether you’re a seasoned swimmer or just learning how to swim, many water-related injuries and tragedies can be avoided by constant supervision by adults. DYK that drowning is the leading killer of children between the ages of 1 -  4 years? The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service kicks off our 2022 Summer of Safety Campaign with one of the most important topics of summer: 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. 

Friday, May 27, 2022

Potomac River: What You Know Could Save Your Life

Fire Chief's annual Potomac River Safety Campaign kicks off this Memorial Day and MCFRS is asking residents to observe the warnings, come prepared and be safe. Lots to learn from Captain Bell with the MCFRS Water Rescue Team: 

"The Potomac is very deceptive, it has some spots that look very calm, very tranquil, look very easy to swim in. But, because the river is a very high-volume flowing river there is a very strong undercurrent with lots of rocks, lots of unseen obstacles and the water is never clear, so you can never see what you’re getting into. These dynamics are especially pronounced in the area of the river called the Potomac Gorge. It is a turbulent zone where water comes into conflict with geology. This stutter-step in the earth’s crust makes Great Falls a beautiful spot, it also makes it dangerous." 

Important to keep in mind that the falls are only a piece of a complicated section of river spanning about seven miles. Uprooted trees, debris, hidden boulders and other hazards create a situation so dangerous for swimming that wading and swimming is illegal in many places.

The river is moving fast and there are a lot of hazards that you can get pinned up against, get your feet trapped in,” says Bell. “And the trees, they create what we call a strainer effect where, if you get swept into them, you can very easily get caught and trapped by your body.” Even wading into the river can lead to a dangerous situation. Mud and silt and pollutants make it impossible to see more than a few inches below the water’s surface. The river’s bottom is too often underestimated. 

“I feel like I’m safe because I have my footing and I step into an eddy or something and I’m relatively safe there, but then as soon as I take one step to the rear of where I’m at it’ll drop from a four to five foot to a 20 to 30 foot drop. And as soon as you lose that, you run that panic sensation and you can very easily drown.”

Bell and his team are well-trained, with plenty of experience. Even so, he says it’s tough to rescue someone once they are already in the river’s grasp.

“Usually we’re out of the fire house within a matter of a minute, and then we have to go down there and it’s going to be five to ten minutes to get to the river’s edge to put the boat in. And then it’s going to depend on where in the river from where we launch as to how long it takes us.”

Too often by the time swimmers realize they are in trouble, it’s too late. Captain Bell notes that it can take up to 20 minutes just to reach the scene. “A swimmer could very much be in a fight for their life prior to us arriving, and have lost that fight.” MCFRS is asking anyone who is visiting the Potomac River to be aware of the dangers and respect the river. (From an awesome interview w/ Bureau Chief Kris Ankarlo WNEW)

Why People Drown at Great Falls

National Park Service - Plan Your Visit

Billie Goat Trail Information - Preview Conditions & Check out the Safety Video

The Billy Goat Trail, especially section A, is challenging and dangerous. A sign in early parts of the trail says:
“Difficult Trail Ahead. Many hikers are injured every year on this section of the Billy Goat A trail. The terrain includes sharp drops, requires jumps across open areas, walking along the edges of rocks and a climb up a 50-foot-traverse. Beyond this point, the next available exit is at the midpoint, up to on hour hike over difficult terrain. If you are tired, low on water, or unprepared for a very strenuous hike, please turn back.” Bottom line, it's not a place for rookies. Be safe and please mind the warnings, friends! 






Friday, May 13, 2022

Investigators Ask Public for Help in 2021 Arson Fire

Gaithersburg, MD – The Montgomery County Fire and Explosive Investigations unit continues to investigate a 2021 arson fire on Marquis Drive in Gaithersburg and are asking the public for help.

At approximately 1 a.m. on Thursday, April 1, 2021, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue units responded to a reported house fire in the area of Marquis Drive and Cullinan Drive. Units arrived on the scene and found a single-family dwelling located on Marquis Drive with heavy fire conditions throughout the residence. Montgomery County Fire and Explosive Investigators were dispatched to the scene and determined that the cause of the fire was incendiary in nature.

The department is asking anyone who may have  information about this arson to call the Fire and Explosive arson tip line at 240-777-2263.

Anonymous tipsters can call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the suspect(s).






Wednesday, April 27, 2022

You look like a great Car Seat Tech!


For over two decades, the Car Seat Program has educated thousands of caregivers on how to properly use and install car seats. Thousands of children have been properly secured in their car seats or seat belts thanks to the efforts of the many amazing child passenger safety technicians who make up MCFRS’ Car Seat Program. These technicians all have one thing in common: they care deeply about kids and want to make sure kids are safe on every ride.

The Car Seat Program is always looking for passionate, dedicated, and community-oriented individuals to become part of our team. If this description fits you, please consider becoming a nationally certified Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technician. This year, we are hosting two certification trainings in Montgomery County and invite you to sign up. The first training will be held in May and another in October. Information on the trainings and how to sign-up is at the link below. Both trainings will be held in Gaithersburg.

CPS technicians use their considerable knowledge and expertise at a variety of community-based activities, such as child safety seat checks, where parents and caregivers receive education and hands-on assistance. Here in Montgomery County, we host car seat check on a weekly basis in Germantown, Aspen Hill, and Takoma Park with occasional events in Rockville and Wheaton. In addition to the checks, technicians educate the community on child passenger safety at community events, festivals, schools, and non-profit organizations.

Our program is highly rated and nationally recognized. We strive to provide a fun, friendly, and welcoming environment to caregivers. If you have questions or are interested in becoming a car seat technician, you can click on the link below or contact Anthony Ramirez, Program Manager, at anthony.ramirez@montgomerycountymd.gov or 240-777-2467.

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🔷 May 9th through 12th (Monday - Thursday) with final seat check on Saturday the 14th:

Click for Class Information 
Course ID: MD202112211131

🔷 October 13th and 14th (Thursday and Friday) and then October 18 -20 (Tuesday, Wednesday, and seat check on Thursday the 20th):

Click for Class Information
Course ID:  MD202112211134            

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There are other trainings occurring throughout Maryland in 2022 and people can attend any of these trainings too. They are at the following locations/dates.

6/7 – 6/11 in Middletown

7/12 – 7/16 in Edgewood

11/1 – 11/4 in Pikesville

Friday, April 15, 2022

Fire Safety Tips

With the holiday season approaching, Fire Chief Goldstein and the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service would like to share some important fire safety tips for our friends celebrating Passover. There are many things families can do to reduce the chance of a fire starting in their homes. Please make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working and that you have practiced a home escape plan. Remember, the very best safety plan is prevention.