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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Halloween Safety for Kids and Adults

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
mebrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

The fun and excitement surrounding Halloween can suddenly turn to sorrow and misfortune through one careless act. The incidence of fire, accident, and injury often increases during holidays and festive events. Each year, firefighters and paramedics witness incidents on Halloween that could have been prevented had simple safety rules been followed. Among the high-risk activities on Halloween; door-to-door trick-or-treating is one of greatest concerns to Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department personnel. Between 4:00 PM and 10:00 PM on Halloween, there is a significant increase in falls, burn-related injuries, and pedestrian injuries. Children are four and a half times more likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on any other night during the year. Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injuries on Halloween. Additionally, many parties and festivities are planned over the Halloween weekend which could result in an increase in adult alcohol consumption with inherent dangers. 

Often, there are safe alternatives to trick-or-treating that can be fun and also risk-free. Local houses of worship and schools may plan Halloween parties, or families may get together and conduct games and activities instead of allowing young children to engage in trick-or-treating in neighborhoods or along busy streets. Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor urges adults to take a more pro-active role in activities on Halloween. Additionally, he reminds adults to be vigilant and exercise due caution when traveling to avoid automobile related crashes. Bashoor stated, “Remember Safety First ensures everyone goes home.”

For those who plan to venture out trick-or-treating, the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department would like to offer the following safety tips so that all might enjoy a happy and safe Halloween:

• Costumes should be made of flame resistant light-colored fabric or have reflective qualities. They should be short enough so as not to interfere with walking or become entangled in bicycle chains. Use facial makeup rather than masks so children can see easily. 

• Children should carry flashlights and not use candles or torches. Before leaving the home, children should discuss the proposed route, time of return, and companions. An adult should always accompany younger children. It is advisable to visit the homes of persons you know or local familiar neighborhoods, stopping at well-lit houses only. As a general rule, children should avoid entering homes or apartments and always travel with a companion. 

• Children should avoid busy streets, always use sidewalks, and follow all traffic rules and regulations. Motorists should avoid all unnecessary travel on Halloween evening, and when driving they 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. 

• Halloween treats should be saved until children return home where adults can examine all items closely. Treats that are unwrapped, or show signs of having been opened, should not be eaten. Fruit should be sliced into small pieces and checked for foreign objects. Keep small pieces of candy away from infants and very small children, as they can easily become lodged in the throat and cause choking. 

• Persons receiving trick-or-treaters should keep a light on and pick up obstacles that could cause a child to trip and become injured. Jack-o-lanterns should be kept clear of doorsteps and landings. Consider the possibility of using flashlights instead of candles to light Jack-o-lanterns. Keep dogs and other pets away from doors so children will not become frightened.

A recent trend in celebrating Halloween has been to celebrate as groups at parties or community events in addition to more adult Halloween parties being held. This trend has resulted in fewer door-to-door trick-or-treaters, however, creates additional vehicles on the street. With Halloween falling on Monday, October 31, there are numerous additional Halloween parties planned for both adults and children over the October 28, 29 and 30th weekend. Traditionally, when festive occasions are celebrated involving adults, the consumption of alcohol goes up. The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department offer these everyday reminders and safety tips to party-goers:

• Never drink and drive. 

• Always wear your seat belt and ensure everyone in your vehicle is buckled up as well. 

• If you are wearing a costume – vehicle occupants, including the driver, should not wear a mask or head dressing as this may block the view of the driver. 

• Be aware that there are still many trick or treaters walking and crossing streets – slow your speed and use extreme care while driving. 

• Use battery powered illumination instead of candles at your Halloween celebration, including inside of your carved pumpkin.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Our Pets and Halloween

 MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

mebrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

Trick or Treat (image by Jenna Brady)
Let us not forget our pets during trick-or-treating.  Some pets may suffer undue stress with the ringing of the door bell and knocking on the door -  not to mention the fear of a costumed child with a large barking dog greeting them at the door.  Keep Safety First and take appropriate measures to reduce any chance of an unwanted encounter.

We are including pet safety tips from our friends at the ASPCA to keep in mind this Halloween:

Attention, animal lovers, it's almost the spookiest night of the year! The ASPCA recommends taking some common sense precautions this Halloween to keep you and your pet saying "trick or treat!" all the way to November 1.

1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.

3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.  (PGFD recommends using a battery powered light to illuminate your pumpkin).

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don't put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn't annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal's movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandanna.

7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn't dart outside. Keep in mind that your pet may not recognize a familiar person wearing a costume and may become aggressive.

10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he or she will be returned to you.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Serious Carbon Monixide Situation Discovered by Hungry Firefighters

At approximately 1200 hours, Friday, October 14, two firefighters stopped to get lunch at the Subway in the 9900 block of Greenbelt Road.  When working in the fire department, it is not always possible to sit down and eat at the firehouse so the firefighters have to eat when they get a break.  After walking in to the Subway to order lunch, the portable carbon monoxide (CO) detector that the firefighters were carrying went into alert status.  Since 2015, all radios assigned to ambulances in Prince George’s County have been outfitted with CO detectors that are constantly monitoring atmospheric conditions for the presence of CO.  This is extremely helpful when responding to a call for someone with unknown medical conditions and it is just another tool for the firefighters to solve the many emergencies they face.  These two firefighters, F/F Betts and F/F Acala, recognized the seriousness of the CO alarm and called for additional resources.
The second arriving unit, E818 from Glenn Dale verified the presence of CO and was able to get a numerical reading of the exact parts per million (PPM).  This reading was in the serious health hazard zone and they immediately upgraded the emergency to a full hazardous materials (HAZMAT) response.  Firefighters from E812, College Park, were then able to enter the stores in full gear with their Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) due to the high concentration of CO.  Readings in the back of the stores were even higher than the initial readings from the first arriving engine company.  Going store to store in full gear and SCBA, the firefighters were able to find the source of the CO leak.  An exhaust vent from the boiler/HVAC unit had broken and was venting CO directly into the stores rather than up and into the atmosphere.  Firefighters were able to shut down the boiler/HVAC and used portable fans to bring down the levels of CO to zero.  Luckily there were no injuries or complaints from civilians on the scene as it appeared the boiler/HVAC had just turned on for the day.  Just to be sure the issue would not crop up again later in the day, Washington Gas company responded to the scene to turn off natural gas to the building, until the unit could be repaired properly.
It is important for people to understand the risks of CO poisoning in the home and at work.  Especially now that hurricane season is upon us.  Check your vents from your dryer and learn the symptoms of CO poisoning.  If you lose power, make sure you run your generator outside and away from any windows. DO NOT run it in your garage or outside your bedroom window.  If in doubt, or you feel the effects of CO, call 911 to be sure.  Or you could just invite FF Betts and Acala over for lunch.

Mike Linynsky, Battalion Chief 882
Prince Geoges County Fire EMS Department
Bowie, Northview Station 816

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Brings Lifesaving Technology to Region via 9-1-1 Integrated Smartphone App

Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Brings Lifesaving Technology
to Region via 9-1-1 Integrated Smartphone App

PulsePoint Respond empowers CPR-trained citizens and off-duty professionals
to provide critical assistance to cardiac arrest victims

Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson
(240) 508-7930

UPPER MARLBORO, MD, October 12, 2016 - Today, the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department (PGFD) joined the PulsePoint Foundation and CTIA Wireless Foundation to bring life-saving technology to the county via the PulsePoint Respond app. At an event at the Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex in Landover, County Executive Rushern Baker was joined by PGFD Fire Chief Marc Bashoor, and CTIA Wireless Foundation Executive Director Athena Polydorou highlighting the benefits of this mobile app that alerts CPR-trained citizens of cardiac events in their vicinity so they may administer aid.  

The app also notifies users of the closest available Automated External Defibrillator (AED). Early application of bystander CPR and rapid defibrillation from an AED have proven to be crucial in improving a person’s chance of surviving SCA. PulsePoint is not limited to emergency responders or those with official CPR certification. It can be used by anyone who has been trained in CPR.

“We are proud to be the first Fire/EMS Department in the NCR to implement PulsePoint, said Fire Chief Marc Bashoor.  “It gives our residents and visitors and the ability to know when a cardiac arrest is occurring close by, to respond quickly, and to attempt potentially lifesaving CPR while our paramedics travel to the scene.”  

The PulsePoint app also provides users with a display of PGFD’s active and recent incidents countywide. On average, PGFD responds to 400 daily calls for service; more than 80 percent are for emergency medical services.

“By directly alerting those who are qualified and nearby, maybe in the business next door or on the floor above, PulsePoint is able to put the right people in the right place at the right time,” said Richard Price, President of the California-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit PulsePoint Foundation.

The latest AHA guidelines, published in Circulation, state that such community programs could increase bystander CPR to the roughly 326,000 cardiac arrests that happen outside the hospital each year.

“The project expands PulsePoint coverage to the 900,000 citizens of Prince George’s County over an area of 499 square miles,” said Brian Frankel, Assistant Fire Chief, Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department. “PulsePoint is a powerful new tool for us to engage with our community to improve cardiac arrest survival rates.”

“By connecting those in critical need with CPR-trained individuals, the PulsePoint app is saving lives across America. We’re proud to be a key sponsor of PulsePoint so that Prince George’s County residents will benefit from this inventive app that leverages Americans’ mobile-first lifestyles,” said Athena Polydorou, Executive Director of CTIA Wireless Foundation.

The free PulsePoint app is available for iPhone and Android and can be downloaded from the iTunes Store and Google Play.

About Prince George’s County Fire/EMS
The Prince George’s County Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department is one of the largest and busiest combination, volunteer and career, Departments in the Country, if not, the world. We responded to a total of over 140,000 calls for service last year.  Eighty percent of these incidents are EMS-related. 

About the PulsePoint Foundation
PulsePoint is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Through the use of location-aware mobile devices PulsePoint is building applications that work with local public safety agencies to improve communications with citizens, empowering them to help reduce the millions of annual deaths from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Deployment of the PulsePoint app can significantly strengthen the “chain of survival” by improving bystander response to cardiac arrest victims and increasing the chance that lifesaving steps will be taken prior to the arrival of emergency medical services (EMS). PulsePoint is built and maintained by volunteer engineers at Workday and distributed by our marketing and implementation partner Physio-Control, Inc. CTIA Wireless Foundation is a key sponsor and advocate of PulsePoint, providing industry and financial support. Learn more at www.pulsepoint.org or join the conversation at Facebook and Twitter. The free app is available for download on iTunes and Google Play.
About CTIA Wireless Foundation
CTIAWireless Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to developing and supporting initiatives that use wireless technology to help American communities. The Foundation’s innovative programs benefit consumers in areas such as education, healthcare, safety and the environment. The Foundation was formed by CTIA-The Wireless Association® member companies in 1991. Learn more at www.wirelessfoundation.org.

About Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Although a heart attack can lead to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), the two are not the same. SCA is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating unexpectedly, whereas a heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked, but the heart continues to beat. Each year, more than 420,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur, making it the leading cause of death in the United States. Survival rates nationally for SCA are less than eight percent, but delivery of CPR can sustain life until paramedics arrive by maintaining vital blood flow to the heart and brain. However, only about a third of SCA victims receive bystander CPR. Without CPR, brain damage or death can occur in minutes. The average EMS response time is nine minutes, even in urban settings; after 10 minutes there is little chance of successful resuscitation. The American Heart Association estimates that effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after SCA, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

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