Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Tis the season to be … SAFE! Deck the Halls with Safety

For Spanish click here

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it may be tempting to take a few short cuts. Fire Chief Scott Goldstein asks that you make sure that safety isn’t one of them!   

Christmas trees require special attention. When selecting a tree, freshness is important. Check the needles to make sure they are green and difficult to pull back from the branches. If the tree has been freshly cut, the needles should not break. Tap the tree on the ground several times and notice if any needles fall off. If they do, the tree is probably dried out and could be a fire hazard.  Water your tree daily and do not place the tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace, radiator, space heater or heat vent. Make sure your tree is in a sturdy holder and can't be knocked over by pets or children.

Using extension cords? Overloaded extension cords and outlets can present a serious fire safety hazard. Make sure that the extension cord is suitable for the electrical “load” needed. Do not place cords under furniture or rugs and never plug two extension cords together to increase the total length. Demanding too much power from an extension cord risks overheating and fire. Be sure to read all packaging and instructions carefully when purchasing an extension cord and ensure it is UL listed.

Holiday lights. Indoors or out, only use lights that have been tested by an approved testing laboratory for safety such as UL. All lights should be inspected for frayed wires, bare spots, broken or cracked sockets or excessive wear before plugging them in and discard any damaged sets of lights. Avoid stringing more than three light 
strands together.

Firing up the fireplace?  Cool your ashes! Every year “cold” ashes result in house fires. Treat all ashes and coals as HOT ashes, even when you think they have had enough time to cool. Your garage, house or deck are unsafe locations for ashes to cool and have been the site of many recent and devastating fires both locally and nationally. Take extreme care when disposing ashes and follow these tips: 
  • Allow all ashes to cool in place for several days, when possible.
  • When it’s time to dispose of ashes, transfer them to a metal container and wet them down. Only
    use an approved metal ash bucket that has a tight fitting metal lid.
  • Store the container outside, away from structures, decks, fences, wood piles or other combustible materials. 
  • Never use a vacuum cleaner to pick up ashes and don’t dispose of ashes outside on a windy day.
  • The wind can whip up what may have seemed like cool embers, making them fiery hot, and igniting nearby combustibles. 

Candle fires peak during the holiday season. Most holiday candle fires occur when people leave burning candles unattended or place candles too close to holiday decorations. Keep candles in sight, in a secure holder and on a safe surface away from children and pets. Consider using flameless, battery-operated candles making them much safer.

Give space heaters space and ensure at least a 3-foot clearance from anything that can burn. Do not overload the electrical circuit or use extension cords with space heaters. Always stay in the room while a space heater is operating and turn it off when leaving the room or going to sleep. Follow all manufacturer recommendations and make sure your space heater meets all safety standards.

Cooking is a top cause of holiday fires. Be alert, focused and stay in the kitchen when cooking. Keep things that can catch fire, such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food wrappers and towels away from the cooking area. Make sure kids and pets stay at least three feet away from the stove and oven, hot food, and liquids to avoid serious burns.
Disposing of your tree – never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by having the County’s recycling service pick it up on the designated day(s).

Do you hear what I hear? Having working smoke alarms DOUBLE your chances of surviving a fire however smoke alarms do not last forever. If your alarms are 10 years old or older, they need to be replaced with new alarms. Bottom line: don't wait for a fire to test your smoke alarm.


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.

    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.

    Tuesday, September 10, 2019

    Home Safe Home: Child Window Safety

    For Spanish click here

    Windows play a vital role in home safety, serving as a secondary escape route in the event of a fire or other emergency, but they also pose a risk for a fall if safety measures are not followed. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue and Safe Kids are providing the following safety tips to help prevent window-related injuries in the home:

    • Never rely on window screens to keep children from falling out of windows. A screen is not a safety device - - it is designed to keep insects out, not to keep children in.

    • Keep furniture such as sofas, beds and dressers away from windows. This will discourage children from climbing near any windows.

    • Keep windows closed and locked when they are not being used.

    • When windows are open for ventilation, take advantage of all safety features. If possible, open windows from the top and not the bottom if you have double-hung windows – the kind that can open down from the top as well as up from the bottom.

    • Install safety devices such as window guards or window stops to help prevent falls.

    Window falls can happen quickly and, in some cases, can be deadly. When keeping your kids safe, MCFRS reminds parents that no device can replace active supervision. For more safety tips, visit our website at www.mcfrs.org/mcsafe.

    Sunday, September 1, 2019

    Flow Testing: High Rise Operations

    Courtesy of Battalion Chief Mark Davis

    This morning crews from Montgomery County Paramedic Engine 719, Paramedic Engine 728, and Battalion Chief 701 conducted several flow tests in high rise apartment buildings in the Gaithersburg area. MCFRS crews wanted to confirm the performance capabilities of their new pumpers and new high-rise fire hose and nozzles.  The goal was to obtain specific flows of 250 gpm and 500 gpm at specific pressures on the upper most part of the building using the building's standpipe system.

    The roof proved to 
    be the perfect place for flowing and measuring water and all four tests were completed without any problems.  
    Each test involved a fire department pumper supplying water to standpipe system using the Fire Department Connection located on the front of the building near the lobby entrance. Supply pressures in excess of 220 psi were needed to meet the flow needs of the hose lines operation on the roof.  While 200+ psi might seem high, it is well within the operating range of a fire department pumper; these type of pressures are often needed to overcome the loss in system pressure due to the height of a building.

    Many thanks go out to the Management and Maintenance Staff of the facilities for keeping their fire protection systems in good working order and for allowing MCFRS to complete this very important flow testing work.  Check out the videos below. 

    Friday, August 30, 2019

    Back to School! What’s our #1 Safety Tip? SLOW DOWN

    For Spanish click here

    With the start of the school year quickly approaching, Fire Chief Scott Goldstein is reminding drivers to exercise extra caution as students head back to school Tuesday. "Safety is our top priority. With schools back in session in Montgomery County and across the DMV, drivers should allow extra time, slow down, hang up and pay attention.”


    - Be alert and slow down. 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.

    - Stop for buses. Flashing yellow lights mean slow down – NOT speed up – and be prepared to stop. Do not attempt to pass or overtake a school bus from behind when yellow lights are flashing. The yellow lights should alert you that flashing red lights will be coming on, just as if you’re at a traffic signal.

    - When the lights are flashing – don’t be passing! Red flashing lights mean stop and wait at least 20 feet before reaching a stopped school bus. Stay stopped until the red lights are deactivated and stop flashing, the extended arm is returned and the bus begins moving. 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.

    - In traffic, avoid “cutting” in front of a bus. Many bus drivers leave a safe following distance between the bus and the vehicle ahead of them to ensure a safer environment for passengers. Even if your car can fit into the space, always avoid cutting in front of a bus or transit vehicle.

    - 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.

    - Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.

    - School Zones: Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and around schools

    - Passengers should always 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.

    - Talk to your teen. Safety on the road is especially important for “new” drivers that may be driving to school for the first time. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at www.teendriving.AAA.com.

    Reminders for Parents:

    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. Walk the route with your child beforehand.

    - Remember that there’s safety -- AND VISIBILITY -- in numbers. Whenever possible, walk in groups rather than alone.

    - 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 kids will be traveling to school by bike, review the rules of the road and always wear a helmet. Not only is it the smart thing to do, it is also the law in Maryland.

    Home Alone

    Parent’s 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 evaluations of each individual child’s readiness. 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 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 "meeting place" 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. DYK that unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires? Be sure to have plenty of after school snacks on hand that do not require cooking. For more information, please visit www.mcfrs.org/mcsafe and have a safe school year! 

    Monday, July 22, 2019

    Extension Cord Safety

    For Spanish click here

    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

    For Spanish click here

    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

    For Spanish click here

    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.

    For Spanish click here

    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.