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Monday, November 11, 2013

Cold Weather Coming - Stay Warm Safely


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

Colder temperatures are in our immediate forecast and the men and women of the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department (PGFD) wants you to stay safe while staying warm.  We are joining the United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to remind everyone that home fires are more prevalent in cold weather than in any other time of the year. This is due in part to an increase in cooking and heating fires. Holiday decorations and winter storms that can interrupt electrical service and cause people to turn to alternative heating sources also contribute to the increased risk of fire in winter.  This reminder involves the safe use of space heaters and general heating safety tips.

The USFA, NFPA and the PGFD want to remind everyone that fire safety and prevention are especially important during times of cold temperatures.  “Temperatures drop and fires increase,” said Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor.  According to NFPA statistics space heaters account for about one third of the home heating fires yet more than 80 percent of the home heating fire deaths. 




The Winter Residential Building Fires (PDF, 1Mb) report released by USFA in 2010, reports an estimated 108,400 winter residential building fires occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries, and $1.7 billion in property loss.  


Cooking and heating are the top causes of fires during cold weather. 

“The winter season brings the highest number of home fires than any other time of year,” said Fire Chief Bashoor. “Each winter season, home fires increase in part due to cooking and heating fires. Fire safety and injury prevention must not be lost in an effort to stay warm. Stay warm and do so safely.” 




The men and women, career and volunteer, of the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department recommend the following safety tips for space heaters. 




Electric Space Heaters


• Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). 



• Check to make sure it has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over. 



• Heaters are not dryers or tables; don't dry clothes or store objects on top of your heater. 




• Space heaters need space; keep combustibles at least three feet away from each heater. 




• Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use. 

  Turn off at night or whenever you sleep.


General Heating Tips

  •  Furnaces, fireplaces and Chimneys should be cleaned and checked each year by an appropriate professional prior to using.
  •  Only use seasoned wood in fireplaces and never use ignitable liquids to start a fire.
  • The 3-foot rule applies to furnaces and fireplaces.  No combustibles items within 3 feet of these heating appliances.
  •  Dispose of fireplace ash into a metal container and store outdoors away from structures on a concrete surface.  Fireplace ash can ignite a fire days after they have been discarded.

Colder weather also increases the potential to carbon monoxide (CO) exposure.  To help prevent illness and possibly death from exposure to CO:



  • Have a certified technician inspect all heating related equipment, kitchen appliances and vent pipes.


  • Purchase and install a CO alarm that has a 10-year battery.


Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. Remember to practice a home escape plan, including 2 ways out of every room,  frequently with your family. 

Residents of Prince George’s County can contact our "Safety First" smoke alarm hotline at 301-864-SAFE (7233).  A firefighter will install a working smoke alarm in your home; free of charge. 

For additional information from the USFA and NFPA on Winter Fire Safety; click here.

Thanksgiving Safety Tips - Cooking and More


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

mebrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department offers the following safety tips, to ensure that all citizens and residents will enjoy a safe and festive Thanksgiving holiday. Unfortunately, fire safety and injury prevention guidelines are often overlooked during the holidays. Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor stated, "Everyone needs to keep Safety First and by doing so our citizens, visitors and businesses can avoid tragedy and disruption of their holiday festivities."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) United States Fire Administration (USFA) issued a special report recently examining the characteristics of Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings. The report, Thanksgiving Day Fires in Residential Buildings, was developed by USFA's National Fire Data Center.

The report is based on 2006 to 2008 data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). According to the report, an estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of 5 deaths, 25 injuries, and $21 million in property loss. The leading cause of all Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings is, by far, cooking. Additionally, smoke alarms were not present in 20 percent of Thanksgiving Day fires that occurred in occupied residential buildings.

If your Thanksgiving plans include a Turkey Fryer, this is a  another whole story by itself,click here for Turkey Fryer Safety Tips.

While these safety and cooking tips may not make Thanksgiving dinner taste any better--they will help to avoid potential disaster;
  • Keep your family and overnight guests safe with a working smoke alarm on every level of the house, in each bedroom and in the halls adjacent to the bedrooms. Test smoke alarms monthly, and replace batteries at least once a year.
  • Overnight guests should be instructed on your home’s fire escape plan and designated meeting place for your family.
  • Have a fire extinguisher available not more than 10 feet from the stove, on the exit side of the room.
  • A standard Class ABC multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher is recommended. Know how to use your fire extinguisher.
  • Start holiday cooking with a clean stove and oven.
  • Keep the kitchen off limits to young children and adults who are not helping with food preparations. This will lessen the possibility of kitchen mishaps.
  • When cooking, do not wear clothing with loose sleeves or dangling jewelry. Clothing can catch on fire and jewelry can become entangled with pot handles, causing spills and burns.
  • Cook on the back burners when possible, and turn pot handles inward so they don’t extend over the edge of the stove.
  • Never leave cooking unattended. If you must leave the kitchen while cooking, turn off the stove or have someone else watch what is being cooked. Unattended cooking is the number one cause of home fires and fire-related injuries in Prince George’s County.  According to the USFA; cooking is the leading cause of all Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings at 69 percent. Nearly all of these cooking fires (97 percent) are small, confined fires with limited damage.
  • If you use a deep fryer, please, exercise extreme caution and follow manufacturer instructions.  The report from the USFA found that these cooking devices accounted for about 1% of Thanksgiving Day fires.
  • Keep Thanksgiving decorations and kitchen clutter away from sources of direct heat.
  • Candles are often part of holiday decorations. The Fire/EMS Department strongly encourages the use of battery powered candles and discourages the use of candles with an open flame.  If you use candles; they should never be left burning when you are away from home, or after going to bed. Candles should be placed where children will not be tempted to play with them, and where guests will not accidentally brush against them. The candleholder should be completely non-combustible and difficult to knock over. The candle should not have combustible decorations around it.
  • If smoking is allowed inside, provide guests with large, deep ashtrays and check them frequently. After guests leave check inside, under upholstery, and in trash cans for cigarette butts that may be smoldering.
  • Overnight guests should be briefed on the home escape plan and designated meeting place outside.

Working smoke alarms are required in all residences in Prince George's County.  Consider upgrading to a 10-year tamper proof with hush feature smoke alarm and never change a battery again.  If you can not afford to purchase an alarm you can call our Safety First Smoke Alarm program at 301-864-SAFE (7233).  A firefighter will install a working smoke alarm in your home; free of charge.

The men and women, career, civilian and volunteer, of the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department wish everyone a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!!!