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Saturday, March 1, 2014

SAFETY FIRST DAY OF THE MONTH of MARCH - A MONTH of CHANGE

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

March is a month of seasonal transition, a time of CHANGE.  We will hopefully see a change from Winter to Spring, we will change out time and hopefully change our life saving alarms.  First and foremost - we remind everyone that the first day of every month is our "Safety First" Day of the Month."  Take just a minute to push the test button of your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms today.  If your alarm emits a loud audible warning - you are good until next month.  

How important are working smoke alarms??

Just this past month we have had three families awakened by a fire in their home by a working smoke alarm.  Had it not been for these life saving alarms it is very possible that we may have had needless tragedy.  The County also experienced its first residential fire fatality this past month.  This occurred in the Brandywine area on February 11.  The fire claimed the life of a 75-year-old resident.  It was impossible to determine if a smoke alarm was present or not.

When you pressed the alarms test button and your alarm did not emit a warning - replace the batteries and re-test.  Still no sound??  It's time to purchase and install a new alarm.  Smoke and CO alarms have an effective life of between 8 to 10 years.  Additionally, please visit your senior citizen neighbors and offer to test their alarm as well.  Many members of our senior community can not reach their alarm to test it, change a battery or upgrade to a new alarm.  Neighbors Helping Neighbors could save a life!!!  Do it today.


Now, back to the subject of CHANGE.  Sunday, March 9 is when we Spring Forward and adjust our clocks one-hour forward for Daylight Saving Time.  We also will remind you to change the battery in your smoke and CO alarms and to consider instead of changing your battery - change your alarm.  Purchase and install the 10-year, tamper proof, with hush button smoke and CO alarms.  Never change a battery again with these new alarms that are designed to a have a life of 10 years with never having to change your battery.  We still recommend testing your alarm on the Safety First Day of every month.

A new law in Prince George's County will require residents to add CO alarms if your homes use a fuel to heat and cook, have a fireplace and/or have an attached garage must install a CO alarm.  This law takes effect on July 1, 2014.  Purchase and install CO alarms now and install one on every level of your home.

At the end of 2014 a State law will require residents to upgrade to the new 10-year smoke alarm.  If your home and loved ones are currently protected by a battery operated smoke alarm, you are mandated to purchase and install the 10-year smoke alarm on every level of your home.

These are laws we can live with!!!


Firefighters will be going door-to-door on the first Wednesday of every month reminding our residents to test and replace their alarms.  We will also open up our Fire/EMS Stations for anyone that would like to stop by.  We have have personnel available to take blood pressures and discuss fire prevention and developing an escape plan with 2 ways out of every room in their house.

Weather forecasts for the first week of March contain cold winter temperatures and a possible snow storm.  This winter has contained some very cold temperatures with plenty of winter precipitation.  March apparently is coming in like a 'Lion."   Because winter temperatures and storms remain in our forecast and because we continue to experience fires caused by unattended cooking we will be leaving our "staying warm" safety tips in our March - Safety First Day of the Month.


Unattended cooking is the leading cause of fires and fire related injuries in Prince George's County.  Never leave the kitchen when you have food cooking on the stove top.


The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department (PGFD) is reminding 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.  This reminder involves the safe use of space heaters and general heating safety tips.


The civilian, career and volunteer men and women of the Fire/EMS Department 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 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.  


“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.  Safety First ensures everyone goes home.” 



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



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. - - Never use an extension cord with space heaters - plug directly into wall socket.

Using a kerosene heater???  Never refuel indoors.  Remove the kerosene heater outdoors, turn off and wait for it to cool down before refueling and only use the correct type of fuel.


General Heating Tips 
    
    Furnaces, fireplaces and chimneys should be cleaned and checked each year by an appropriate professional prior to using.  Clear away any clutter from these heating devices, at least 3 feet away.
    Only use seasoned wood in fireplaces, never use ignitable liquids to start a fire and do not overload your appliance.    The 3-foot rule also 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.



Change Your Clock - Change Your Battery or Change Your Alarm








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