Sunday, August 28, 2016

Slow Down, Watch Out. KIDS AHEAD!

Back to School Safety Tips - Children across the region are heading back to school and Fire Chief Scott Goldstein is asking all drivers to exercise extra caution and be alert as the school year begins. “Safety is our top priority. With schools back in session, drivers should allow extra time and be on the look-out for children at intersections and in neighborhoods,” said Chief Goldstein. “Additionally, as a matter of safety and compliance with laws, drivers are reminded to put their cell phones down and refrain from talking or texting while behind the wheel. Please be a good ROAD model.”

For Drivers:
  • Be alert and slow down. Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. Put down your phone and never text while driving.  Looking away from the roadway for just two seconds doubles the chance of being involved in a crash.
  • Passengers should wear a seat belt and/or ride in an age and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat. Children of all ages are safest when properly restrained in the backseat of a vehicle.
  • Exercise extra caution as you head out to work and be on the lookout for school buses. Many bus routes or schedules change each year and you may encounter a school bus or stop where you may have never seen one before.
  • Scan between parked cars. Nearly 40 percent of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., mostly at non-intersection locations, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Children can quickly dart out between parked cars or other objects along the roadway. Motorists should pay close attention not only at intersections, but along any residential roadways where children could be present.
  • Take extra time when making a right turn on a red light and be on the lookout for pedestrians.
  • School Zones: Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and around schools. Be alert to children as you back your vehicle out of your driveway or exit your garage.
  • Expect delays near schools, plan ahead and allow extra time to reach your destination.
  • Safety on the road is especially important for “new” drivers that may be driving to high school for the first time.
Reminders for Parents and Children:
  • Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Children are not always aware of their surroundings and may dart into traffic assuming drivers will see and stop for them. Carefully consider whether your child is ready to walk to school or wait for the bus without adult supervision and walk the route with your child beforehand.
  • Teach children to always cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks and look left, right and left again before crossing. Children may have difficulty gauging the distance and speed of an approaching car, and may not recognize and react to potentially hazardous situations.
  • If traveling to school by bike, obey the rules of the road and wear a helmet. Not only is it the smart thing to do, it is also the law in Maryland.
  • Be sure that your child knows his or her phone number and address, your work number and when to call 911 for emergencies.
  • Only drive or park in authorized areas when picking up or dropping off students at school.
  • Be a good neighbor. Respect private property and always be on your best behavior while waiting for the bus. 
School Bus Safety – What Motorists Should Know: 
All motorists are required by law to stop when the red lights on buses are flashing. Passing a school bus when the red lights are flashing is not only illegal it is also one of the biggest threats to student safety. Motorists should be aware that the red flashing lights and the stop sign may be engaged shortly after the amber lights are on. Vehicles traveling in the same direction as the bus are always required to stop. In Maryland, the law states that vehicles must come to a complete stop on both sides of the roadway if there is no physical divider or barrier.

Home Alone 
Parents need to carefully consider the pros and cons of having a child stay home alone before/after school. Be familiar with laws and child protective policies in your jurisdiction and, because children mature at different rates, your decision should not be based on age alone. Children should master important safety skills before staying home alone. Be sure to make and practice a home fire escape plan that includes a designated “safe” area outside where everyone will meet if the smoke alarm sounds and ensure they know when and how to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. Unattended cooking continues to be the leading cause of home fires in Montgomery County and firefighters strongly recommend having after school snacks on hand that do not require cooking. Children should only use kitchen appliances while under close adult supervision. Additional safety tips can be found on our website at

For the law in Maryland, Section 5-801 provides:(a) A person who is charged with the care of a child under the age of 8 years may not allow the child to be locked or confirmed in a dwelling, building, enclosure or motor vehicle while the person charged is absent and the dwelling, building, enclosure or motor vehicle is out of the sight of the person charged unless the person charged provides a reliable person at least 13 years old to remain with the child to protect the child.

If you need assistance with fire escape planning or obtaining smoke alarms, call 311 to schedule a free check-up by fire and rescue service representatives. To learn more about what you and your family can do to be safe year-round, visit the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service website at

Friday, August 12, 2016

Get Ready: Heat Wave in the Forecast

Excessive heat is especially dangerous to the elderly, the young, those with existing medical conditions and those that work outdoors. Fire Chief Scott Goldstein is urging residents to stay cool, stay hydrated and to check on the welfare of elderly or at-risk neighbors as things "heat up" 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.  Dress for the heat.
Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect some of the sun’s energy. 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. Elderly or disabled residents in Montgomery County in need of a free fan can call 311 for information.

4. Children and cars - use common sense.
Never, ever, leave infants, 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.

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.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Going on Vacation? Safety Starts Before You Leave Home

·         Never put your home address on your luggage tags. Write your phone number instead.
·         Make copies of all of your credit cards, important identification information, including your medical insurance cards. Take one copy with you (pack it separately from the cards themselves) and leave one copy at home.
·         Make sure all of the doors and windows to your home are secured and locked. It sounds like a no-brainer but many thieves gain access through unlocked windows and doors. 
·         Never post your travel plans on social media networks. The pictures of your non-stop fun and adventures are great – just wait until you return home to post.
·         Let your trusted neighbors know you’ll be away so they can keep an eye on your home while you are away.
·         Have your mail held at the post office and your newspaper delivery put on hold or ask a family member, friend or neighbor to pick them up for you.

·         Set automatic timers to turn your lights on.

Monday, August 8, 2016

When on Vacation Consider Taking a Vacation from Social Media

Be careful about the information you share on social media. Do not publicly post check-ins at distant locations or photos from the airport with details about your vacation plans – you may be letting the entire world know that your home will be empty. Think twice before you post!  

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The best seat is a SAFE one!

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue's Car Seat program is nationally recognized. Over 25 seats installed Saturday! Visit for information and to learn more about the program.  

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Making History

County Executive Leggett greeted Battalion Chief Dorcus “Dee” Howard Richards to honor her for 27 years of service to the County and the Department of Fire and Rescue Service. Earlier this year, Chief Howard Richards received special recognition from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) during the NAACP’s 41st Annual Freedom Fund Dinner and was recognized as the first African American female promoted to the rank of Battalion Chief in the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.

Pictured (l to r): County Chief Administrative Officer Tim Firestine; County Executive Ike Leggett;
Battalion Chief Dee Howard Richards; and Fire Chief Scott Goldstein

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Time to "Retire" Your Smoke Alarms?

Your smoke alarms need to have a retirement plan! Smoke alarms have a life expectancy of 10 years and then need to be replaced with new ones. Like other electronic equipment, smoke alarm components wear out over time and the sensors can begin to lose sensitivity. The test button only confirms that the battery, electronics and the alert system are working, not that the sensor that detects smoke is working. 


- Even if your 10-year-old (or older) smoke alarm sounds when you push the test button, it still needs to be replaced.

- Even if a smoke alarm hasn’t reached the 10-year mark, replace it if it chirps after you’ve replaced the battery or if the alarm doesn’t sound when you perform the recommended monthly testing of your fire alarm system.

- Montgomery County Fire Officials recommend replacing all interconnected smoke alarms at the same time (even if some are working).

Remember: smoke alarms are an essential part of your home's fire prevention strategy! Be sure to read about Maryland's New Smoke Alarm law that affects all battery-only smoke alarms.  

Monday, August 1, 2016

Practice Playground Safety

• Watch out for hot surfaces that can burn children such as slides and swings.
• Make sure the safety surfaces are thick enough to protect children if they fall.
• Make sure there is an adult present to supervise at all times.
• For a playground safety checklist visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission.