Tuesday, January 31, 2012

MCFRS Personnel Help Out at Bethesda Fisher House’s

By: Robert J. Faas Jr.
Fire Station 34 “A” Shift

Last week fire department personnel from Montgomery County, Washington DC and Northern Virginia stopped by the Fisher Houses in Bethesda to help support our wounded warriors and their families.  The Fisher House is an organization that provides a home away from home for the families of our wounded warriors who are receiving medical care at a nearby military hospital or medical center.

The group provided appetizers, salads, Baked Ziti and dessert for the soldiers and their families that were staying there.  It was an honor and privilege for all involved!

Friday, January 27, 2012

What’s Invisible, Has No Smell, But Can Kill You? Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is the most common cause of death by poison in the United States, killing more than 500 people every year. It is one of the most dangerous poisons because often people don't know it is present until it is too late. The best way to protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning is to buy a carbon monoxide (sometimes referred to as CO) detector for your home. A properly working carbon monoxide detector can provide an early warning before deadly gases build up to dangerous levels. If you live in a home that is two stories or more, you might want to install two.
For more information, see the "Is it Flu or Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?" page.
If you notice these symptoms and suspect that carbon monoxide is the cause, leave the area immediately and get outside to fresh air. Call 9-1-1 and seek medical help.
Be reminded: Installing a carbon monoxide detector does not eliminate the need to have a smoke alarm in your home. Carbon monoxide detectors do not detect smoke and smoke alarms do not sense carbon monoxide.
CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America.
(Source: Centers for Disease Control)


·         CO is a produced anytime a fuel is burned. Potential sources include gas or oil furnaces, water heaters, space heaters, clothes dryers, barbecue grills, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, gas ovens, generators and car exhaust fumes.
·         Every year more than 10,000 people die or seek medical attention due to CO poisoning from home-related products. (Source:  Consumer Product Safety Commission)
·         More than two-thirds of Americans use gas, wood, kerosene or another fuel as their home's major heat source.
·         65% of CO poisoning deaths from consumer products are due to heating systems.
·         Only 27% of homes in America have carbon monoxide alarms, according to recent industry research.
·         An idling vehicle in an attached garage, even with the garage door opened, can produce concentrated amounts of CO that can enter your home through the garage door or nearby windows.
·         CO poisoning deaths from portable generators have doubled for the past two years, and many of these deaths occurred in the winter months and during power outages.
·         A poorly maintained gas stove can give off twice the amount of CO than one in good working order.


·         Install at least one battery-powered CO alarm or AC-powered unit with battery backup on each level of your home and near sleeping areas.
·         Have a licensed professional inspect heating systems and other fuel-burning appliances annually.
·         Install fuel-burning appliances properly and operate according to the manufacturer's instructions.
·         Keep chimneys clear of animal nests, leaves and residue to ensure proper venting. Have all fireplaces cleaned and inspected annually.
·         Do not block or seal shut the exhaust flues or ducts used by water heaters, ranges and clothes dryers.
·         Do not leave your car running in an attached garage or carport.
·         Do not use ovens or stoves to heat your home.
·         Do not use charcoal or gas grills inside or operate outdoors near a window where CO fumes could seep in through a window.
·         Check all carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Do they use the most accurate sensing technology? Do they need new batteries?
Replace CO alarms every five to seven years in order to benefit from the latest technology upgrades.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

MCFRS Technical Rescue Specialists Assist in Rescue of a Man Trapped in Cave

By: Assistant Chief Scott Goldstein

Just after 6:45pm last night, Montgomery County Fire Rescue was contacted by the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and requested to assist Washington County Fire Rescue with a spelunker trapped in a cave in the Clearpsring section of western Washington County. The spelunker was amongst a group of 4 that were exploring the cave before he got trapped about 250 feet from the entrance point. The cave, know as Schtrumph's Cave, consists of some very narrow passages roughly 18" wide with cork screws and narrow long passages.

MCFRS Technical Rescue Specialists Assist in Rescue of a Man Trapped in Cave
Click on photo above to go to Flickr Site w/more photos
Personnel from Washington County Fire Rescue had established communications with the victim and provided the victims companions with rescue tools, two-way communications equipment, and atmospheric monitoring equipment with which they began to chip away at the rock structures entrapping him.

As technical rescue specialists from Frederick and Montgomery County arrived to assist, an action plan was developed that supported rescuers entering the cave to make access to the victim.

As the rescuers prepared to enter - the associates with the victim radioed that he was free and would begin to work out to the cave entrance. Two rescuers from Montgomery County made entry and met the victim about 100 feet below the entrance. They assessed the patients’ medical condition and created an improvised harness and utilized a mechanical system to assist the victim up several vertical elements within the cave.

The victim exited the cave at roughly 10:15pm and just less than 5 hours since the first 9-1-1 call was made. The victim was transported to R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore for treatment and assessment.

Fire Rescue units gathered equipment and returned to service.  Please click on photo above to go to our set on Flickr.  Photos Courtesy of MCFRS

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

When is My Child Old Enough to Stay Home Alone?

Parents 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 evaluation of each individual child's readiness.

Maryland State Law:

  • Maryland Child Protective Services Procedures (SSA95-13) define an "unattended child" as:
    • A child under eight left alone or in the care of a person who is not reliable or who is under 13.
    • A child aged eight through 12 left alone for longer than brief periods without support systems which should include phone numbers of parents, other family members or neighbors, information about personal safety, and what to do in an emergency. Children in this age group may not be left to care for children under the age of eight.
    • A child 12 or over who is left alone for long hours or overnight or with responsibilities beyond capabilities or where there is some special risk factor such as mental retardation or physical handicap that would indicate that the child may be in jeopardy.
    • A child who has been abandoned.
    • A child of any age who is handicapped and left alone, if the handicapping condition constitutes a special risk factor which indicates that the child is in jeopardy.
  • Maryland Family Law, 5-701(p) states that NEGLECT is "the leaving of a child unattended or other failure to give proper care and attention to a child by any parent or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision under circumstances that indicate: that the child's health or welfare is harmed or placed at substantial risk of harm."
  • The Montgomery County Child Protective Services defines neglect as "the chronic failure of a parent, caretaker, household or family member to provide a child under 18 basic needs of life, such as: food, clothing, shelter, medical care, attention to hygiene, educational opportunity, protection and supervision. Cultural standards which differ from those of most of the community are not necessarily neglect." To make a report call 240-777-4417.

Deciding if Your Child is Ready to Stay Home Alone When the Law Permits:

Home alone
You know your child and can best determine when she or he is ready to be alone. Factors such as emotional maturity, common sense and self-confidence must be considered. Ask yourself these questions to help you reach your decision:
  • Does your child want to stay alone?
  • Can your child use the telephone?
  • Can your child lock and unlock the door properly?
  • Can your child follow directions?
  • Does your child know what to do in an emergency?

Prepare Your Child:

Help your child to be ready to stay home alone gradually, beginning with very short periods of time. Make certain that your home is safe. These guidelines will help prepare your child for this important step:
  • Post important phone numbers and make sure your child understands when and how to contact parents, reliable neighbors, and emergency aid
  • Have your child call a parent at work or a responsible adult to report safe arrival home from school.
  • Practice situations that may occur when your child is alone - (What will you do if someone comes to the door? How will you answer the phone if someone calls for your parents? When should you call your parents at work? Etc.)
  • Plan time after you return home to listen to your child's account of day's events and deal with problems and questions.
  • Be sure you have a Family Emergency Plan in place
  • Make sure they know what to do in an emergency:

Other Situations to Consider When Deciding Your Child's Needs

  • It's not okay to leave children alone at the library or other public facilities. Staff members have many duties. They are not responsible for child care and your child may not be safe.
  • Is your home location safe? Do you know neighbors who can be trusted to provide good advice if called upon by your child?

Resource Library:

The Rockville Regional Library at 21 Maryland Avenue maintains the Children's Resource Collection of books, videos and magazines on child development and other topics of interest to parents. Your local library or book stores will also have books which you might find helpful. Recommended are:
  • Home-Alone Kids, by Bryan E. Robinson
  • Safe Passages, by Hull
  • Home Alone Video for Kids, Produced by KidSafety of America

Other Resources:

Home alone
  • LOCATE: Child Care - for child care information and referral services. 301-279-1773
  • Child Care Subsidy Infolink - information about eligibility for child care subsidies. 240-777-1155
  • ChildLink - for information or resources to help with a child from birth to five years of age, such as Early Education, Parenting, Support for Families, Special Needs, Health Care, Mental Health Care, County Resources and more. 240-777-4769
  • Montgomery County Schools (MCPS) Call Center - Information about Montgomery County Schools. 301-309-MCPS (6277)
  • MCPS Division of Family and Community Partnerships - provides resources and services from the community to strengthen family practices. 301-279-3100
  • Montgomery County Health and Human Services Information Line. 240-777-1245
  • Montgomery County Child Welfare Services - fact sheets and parent tip sheets are available at www.montgomerycountymd.gov , search for Child Welfare Services or call 240-777-3555
  • Some area hospitals community education departments offer workshops for youth in topics such as Home Alone, Babysitting, and Safety
    • Children's National Medical Center (Washington D.C.) - 202-884-4500
    • Holy Cross Hospital - Community Education Department - 301-754-7160
    • Shady Grove Adventist Hospital - 800-542-5096
    • Suburban Hospital - 301-896-3939 x 1

Monday, January 23, 2012

Accident This Morning in the 7400 Block of Hawkins Creamery Road

These are photos from the accident this morning in the 7400 block of Hawkins Creamery Road in the Laytonsville area of Montgomery County. There was no environmental hazard and MCFRS remained on the scene to assist with offload of the product. Salt trucks were requested and the cause of the accident remains under investigation. One person was extricated, assessed on the scene and transported with non-life threatening injuries to a local hospital.

7400 blk of Hawkins Creamery Road1 7400 blk of Hawkins Creamery Road

Are You Looking for an Exciting Career? MCFRS is Accepting Applications for Public Safety 911 Call Taker

      Closing Date: January 25, 2012

      Rockville - - - The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) is recruiting for the position of Public Safety 911 Call Taker for the Emergency Communications Center (ECC) located in Gaithersburg, Maryland. This recruitment will establish an eligible list to fill current and future vacancies. Selected candidates may be assigned to the Fire/Rescue Service.

The Public Safety 911 Call-Taker is responsible for quality emergency communication services to the citizens of Montgomery County as well as providing accurate and timely data/support to uniformed fire/rescue radio dispatchers. The Public Safety 911 Call-Taker has a unique responsibility in a fast-paced environment that requires careful attention to detail, multi-tasking and good communication skills.

      Duties will include: answering 911 emergency calls related to fire/rescue and emergency medical services; utilizing specific protocols to screen and prepare calls for dispatch, interacting with uniformed fire/rescue radio dispatchers via a Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system; and providing Dispatch Life Support (pre-arrival) instructions to 911 callers as mandated by the State of Maryland.

Employment Information:
Applicants must have the ability to:

-         perform work assignments at different work locations when required;
-         work holidays, weekends and shifts during days, evenings or midnights;
-         accept last minute changes to their schedule and work mandatory overtime;
-         work under close supervision and daily evaluation of performance, especially during training;
-         demonstrate good customer service skills including dealing calmly and respectfully with irate and angry customers over the phone while handling complex situations; and
-         work under constant electronic surveillance as all telephone conversations and radio messages will be recorded.
      Successful candidates will be required to obtain a State of Maryland Emergency Medical Dispatcher licensure/certification within six (6) months of employment and maintain licensure/certification after the probationary period.

      Salary Range: $35,923 - $58,693

Minimum Qualifications:
Experience: One (1) year of responsible work experience involving public contact.
Education: Completion of high school or High School Certificate of completion recognized in the State of Maryland.
Equivalency: None.

Preferred Criteria:
Resume must include information specific to the preferred criteria listed below. Make sure that your resume references your knowledge, skills, and abilities as they relate to the preferred criteria. Ideally, the preferred criteria should be addressed in a separate section in your resume.  The system only allows for one document to be submitted so your preferred criteria must be part of the resume.

There are no preferred criteria for this requisition.  Applicants that meet the minimum qualifications will be required to take qualifying assessments.

If selected for consideration for this position, you may be required to provide evidence that you possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities indicated on your resume.

Additional Employment Information:
Montgomery County Government is an equal opportunity employer, committed to workforce diversity. Accordingly, as it relates to employment opportunities, the County will provide reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities, in accordance with the law. Applicants requiring a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process should contact the Office of Human Resources via email to special.accommodations@montgomerycountymd.gov. Individual determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made in accordance with all applicable laws.

Montgomery County Government also provides hiring preference to certain categories of veterans and veterans/persons with a disability. For more information and to claim employment preference, please refer to the Careers webpage on Hiring Preference.
For important information regarding the recruitment process, critical dates and information, applicants should access the job posting at:  www.montgomerycountymd.gov and click on careers. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Inclement Weather Expected Overnight - Winter Weather Advisory

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for snow, sleet and freezing rain, in effect from 11 p.m. this evening to 1 p.m. EST Saturday.

A winter weather advisory means that periods of snow, sleet or freezing rain will cause travel difficulties. Be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibility and use caution while driving. Residents of the National Capital Region are encouraged to "Get Where You Need to Be Before the Weather Gets Bad." Click here for more safety tips and advice.

Confined Space Rescue January 17th 2012

Thought I would share some photos from an incident who responded to the other day.  It was a confined space rescue for an injured worker in an underground 10,000 gallon heating oil tank that was being cleaned and “filled”  
Click on the photo below to be taken to a photo album from the incident.

Confined Space Rescue January 17th 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Technology Makes Diagnosis Possible During Ambulance Transport

Those with Heart Attack Symptoms Should Always Call 911

Rockville - An updated EKG (electrocardiogram) system that transmits heart rhythm data and vital signs is now available in Montgomery County advanced life support ambulances making it possible to notify Emergency Department physicians within moments of a paramedic diagnosis,  saving valuable time during transport to the hospital.


The window of time from when a patient starts experiencing heart attack symptoms to the moment the patient receives treatment is a critically important period. This newly acquired equipment allows paramedics to send critical data directly and securely from remote locations to awaiting area hospitals and accelerates the diagnosis process while shaving off critical time that can ultimately make a difference in patient outcome and survival. While hospitals and first responders have many protocols in place to ensure that cardiac patients are diagnosed and treated quickly, providing this early diagnosis “en route” ensures that the hospital team will be mobilized and standing by to intervene with angioplasty, as needed, so that blocked heart vessels can be opened, blood flow to the heart restored and heart muscle (and lives) saved.  This time period from diagnosis to the opening of the vessels is known as “door to balloon” or D2B time. According to guidelines by the American Heart Association, optimal D2B time is 90 minutes or less.

“This technology is the perfect example of collaboration at work to save lives,” said Fire Chief Richard Bowers. “The technology enhances our ability to network with the hospitals, speed up care for heart attack victims and provide critical patient care and it’s already made a difference in the lives of several patients since the system was implemented.”


The signs and symptoms of a heart attack can be subtle and hard to identify. “One of the biggest challenges is that too often victims of heart attacks will ignore symptoms or choose to drive themselves to the hospital when they suspect a possible heart attack,” said EMS Chief Diane Zuspan. “The best course of action is to call 911 immediately for help. Our paramedics have the training, and now the technology, to diagnose a heart attack on the scene while working with our hospitals to provide the best chance of survival.” 

Patient Story

Mr. Kenneth Courage, age 61, experienced chest pain on July 29, 2011 and called an ambulance.  When EMS arrived at his home they performed an EKG at 10:38 am.  The EKG was transmitted electronically via the LIFENET system to the Suburban Hospital Emergency Department, where Dr. Matthew Leonard confirmed the diagnosis of STEMI (ST- segment elevation myocardial infarction) also known as a heart attack.  A heart attack is caused by a sudden, prolonged blockage of an artery that supplies blood to a large area of the heart. To ensure the best outcome, the blocked artery must be opened quickly with balloon angioplasty performed in a cardiac catheterization laboratory.

Once the diagnosis was confirmed, Suburban Hospital’s “Code Heart” team was activated. On that day the team included interventional cardiologist Dr. Yuri Deychak. Mr. Courage was transported directly to the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab, bypassing the emergency department. He arrived in the catheterization lab at 11:07 am and his vessels were opened by the Code Heart Team 28 minutes later. The home/diagnosis to balloon catheter intervention time was 57 minutes.

LIFENET, a Web-based system, allows EMS teams in the field to send EKG readings to hospital staff digitally, with the results immediately accessible on desktop computers as well as smart phones. At the hospital, teams of cardiologists, nurses and technologists provide 24/7 coverage in the cardiac catheterization labs. 

All County hospitals which have the Cardiac Intervention Center (CIC) designation from the State of Maryland, including Suburban Hospital, Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Washington Hospital and Holy Cross Hospital, collaborated with MCFRS to implement the LifeNet System. Each of the hospitals contributed toward the initial equipment purchase and has agreed to support ongoing expenses.   

Since July, many patients have benefited from this new technology and this new process, which applied together with state and local protocols, bypass the Emergency Department and saves valuable time. The difference in minutes can be the difference between life and death.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Honoring ARMY Specialist Ronald H. Wildrick JR.

Today, personnel from several of our Fire Station's had the somber privilege to honor one of our countries fallen warriors.

ARMY Specialist Ronald H. Wildrick JR. of Woodsboro, Maryland, who died on December 11, 2011 in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, in service to our great country.  Our personnel learned that his funeral procession would be passing through Montgomery County, via 270, as he made his way to his final resting place.  Several stations along the route positioned apparatus and personnel on overpasses to honor the fallen hero.

Below, you can see photos showing units from Fire Station #34 and #35 who positioned two aerial tower/ladder trucks flying the American Flag.

An honor and privilege for all involved!

Honoring ARMY Specialist Ronald H. Wildrick JR. Honoring ARMY Specialist Ronald H. Wildrick JR. Honoring ARMY Specialist Ronald H. Wildrick JR.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Public Safety Personnel Learning About Autism

Right now, over 60 fire fighters and police officers are at our training academy learning more about Autism.

Captain Bill Cannata from the Westwood, MA Fire Department, who has an autistic son, developed this program and is today's instructor. The training is free thanks to a grant Bill received from the Dept. Of Homeland Security.

There are a few of our members in the class who have kids who are autistic.

I met Bill a couple of years ago at a conference and we have kept in touch hoping to be able to bring the training to Montgomery County.

The class was a sell out and we are hoping to bring Bill back in the near future.
Stay Safe,

Bill Delaney
Office of the Fire Chief
MCFRS Life Safety Education & Social Media

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

MCFRS Friendly Reminders

Still have your holiday decorations up?  Do not know what to do with that Christmas Tree?  Did you know you could recycle your lights?

Get your answer to these and other related questions:

Still looking for a New Year’s resolution? The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service suggest making one that can truly benefit you and your family: Resolve to be Safe in 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Driving in Fog - Safety Tips

The below is from Weather.com and I thought it appropriate for this mornings commute.

Stay Safe - Bill

Fog can be thought of as a cloud at ground level. It forms when the temperature drops to the dew point (the temperature at which air is saturated), and invisible water vapor in the air condenses to form suspended water droplets. Fog can reduce visibility to 1/4 mile or less, creating hazardous driving conditions. If you can't postpone your trip until dense fog lifts -- usually by late morning or the afternoon -- follow these tips:

* Drive with lights on low beam. High beams will only be reflected back off the fog and actually impair visibility even more.

* Reduce your speed -- and watch your speedometer. Fog creates a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be speeding.

* Listen for traffic you cannot see. Open your window a little, to hear better.

* Use wipers and defrosters as necessary for maximum visibility.

* Use the right edge of the road or painted road markings as a guide.

* Be patient. Do not pass lines of traffic.

* Do not stop on a freeway or heavily traveled road. If your car stalls or becomes disabled, turn your vehicle's lights off, and take your foot off of the brake pedal. People tend to follow tail lights when driving in fog. Move away from the vehicle to avoid injury.

Sources: National Weather Service, Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Friday, January 6, 2012

Resolve to be Safe in 2012

Still looking for a New Year’s resolution? The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service suggests making one that can truly benefit you and your family - - - resolve to be fire safe in 2012. Fire risks increase as the temperatures decrease and recent fire deaths across the country are tragic reminders that people need to take action now to be safe during the winter months. 

“There are two basic “Must Haves” that are integral to fire safety year-round, but especially this time of year,” said Fire Chief Richard Bowers. “We know that having working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, in combination with a home escape plan, saves lives. We’re asking residents to ensure these life-saving devices are present and functional in their homes.”

Fire Safety Tips   

-  Install working smoke alarms on every level of your home including basements and in all sleeping areas. If your alarms are hard-wired, be sure they have a battery back-up.

-  Consider sleeping with bedroom doors closed. Closed doors provide a barrier against smoke and may provide more time to escape time in the event of a fire. If you sleep with bedroom doors closed, make sure everyone can hear the smoke alarm or consider installing one inside the bedroom.    

-  All smoke alarms have expiration dates and should be replaced every ten years, even if they appear to be working. Follow manufacturer recommendations for a replacement schedule.

-  Smoke alarms should be tested monthly and batteries changed annually. A “chirping” sound may indicate that your battery is low and needs to be changed right away.

-  Make sure your home is equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths and, unlike fire, carbon monoxide cannot be seen, has no smell and without a detector you may be at risk.  

Heating Equipment
Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires during the winter months. In fact, half of all heating fires occur in the months of December, January and February.

- Space heaters should be kept at least three feet from anything that can burn. Always turn off  space heaters when leaving the room or going to sleep.

- Don’t use extension cords with space heaters. The high amount of current they require could melt the cord and start a fire.

- When purchasing portable heaters, look for units with automatic shut-off features.

- Never use a gas range or oven as a substitute for a furnace or space heater. 

- Fireplace ashes can maintain enough heat to re-ignite for several days after a fire. When cleaning out the ashes, always assume they are still hot and use a metal can to contain them in for disposal. The metal can should be stored away from the home (never in an attached garage, breezeway or on a deck).

Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. It’s important to be alert to prevent kitchen fires.

- Never leave cooking unattended. Turn off the burner if you need to leave the room.

- Wear appropriate clothing and avoid long, flowing sleeves and open, loose-fitting shirts that can easily come in contact with hot burners.

- Keep anything that can catch fire - - potholders, towels, wooden utensils, food packaging and curtains - - away from the stovetop.  

- Always unplug appliances. Not only can it save money and energy, it’s safer should there be a power surge or electrical malfunction.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How to Recycle/Dispose of Christmas Trees & Light Strings

A question that always comes up this time of year is what to do with the family Christmas Tree. Well, thanks to our friends in the Department of Environmental Protection – Division of Solid Waste, we have an answer.

Please take some time to go to their web site to learn how to properly Recycle/Dispose of Christmas Trees

In addition, you can also find some great information here on: How to recycle/dispose of light strings (Christmas lights / holiday lights)

As always – Be Safe!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Reminder to Properly Store and Dispose of Seasonal Decorations

I thought I would pass along some great advice from our friends at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) re post holiday storage and disposal of seasonal decorations.  Also included, a video of what could happen if you keep your dry Christmas tree up too long from National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).


According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are more home structure fires in the cooler months than any other time of year. As pine needles begin to drop on living room carpets, NFPA is offering suggestions for safe storage and removal of holiday decorations.

“It’s not uncommon to see residents keeping lights and Christmas trees up past December,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for NFPA. “The reality is, continued use of seasonal lighting and dried-out Christmas trees can pose significant fire hazards in and outside the home.”

Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they have a higher chance of being deadly. NFPA recommends getting rid of the tree when it’s dry. Dried trees should not be kept in the home, garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program.

In 2005-2009, holiday lights and other decorative lighting were involved in an annual average of 150 home fires, 8 civilian deaths, 14 related injuries, and $8.5 million in direct property damage. To reduce the risk of holiday light fires and keep equipment in good condition for next year, follow these storage suggestions:  
  • To unplug electric decorations, use the gripping area provided on the plugs. Never pull the cord to unplug a device from electrical outlets. Doing so can harm the cord’s wire and insulation and even lead to an electrical shock or fire.
  • As you’re putting away electrical light strings, take time to inspect each for damage. Throw out light sets if they have loose connections, broken sockets or cracked or bare wires.
  • Do not place a damaged set of lights back into the storage box for next year’s use.
  • Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags, or wrap the lights around a piece of cardboard.
  • Store electrical decorations in a dry place where they cannot be damaged by water or dampness. Also, keep them away from children and pets.
Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires during the winter months. In fact, half of all home heating fires occur in December, January, and February, according to NFPA's Home Fires Involving Heating Equipment (PDF, 723 KB) report.

NFPA and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) are working together to remind everyone that home fires are more prevalent in winter than in any other season. Learn more information about the organizations’ joint safety campaign, “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires.”