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Monday, October 26, 2015

Legislative Priorities Listening Sessions - Tuesday October 27, 2015 6:00 pm


Change Your Clock - Change Your Battery or Upgrade Your Alarms

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

Spring Forward and Fall Back.  Sunday, November 1, we will  bring Daylight Saving Time to a close and adjust our clocks back 1-hour to Eastern Standard Time.  Sunday is also our Safety First Day of the Month which is the day designated to test our smoke and CO alarms.

Change your clock and change your battery in your alarms is a nationwide theme from firefighters that you will be hearing this week and for good reason.  66% of fire fatalities occur in homes found with no smoke alarms or non-working smoke alarms due to a lack of batteries or dead batteries.  Colder weather means there will be more fires so it is important to ensure you have working alarms. Working smoke alarms increase the chances of surviving a fire in your home. 

"Press to Test"

It is important to test your alarms to ensure they are working every month. Press the test button on the front cover of your alarm on the first day of every month.  If your alarm sounds you are good until next month.  If your alarm does not sound - replace the battery and "press to test" again.  Still no alarm - remove old alarm and replace with a new 10-year alarm.

This Sunday, November 1, we are asking you to replace the battery in your alarm with a new battery. The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department highly recommends you replace your older 9-volt battery powered alarm with a 10-year alarm.

A new law became effective on July 1, 2013 involving “battery only” smoke alarms used in Maryland residential properties.  When these “battery only” smoke alarms have reached their 10-year life span, they need to be replaced with new long-life sealed lithium battery smoke alarms with silence/hush button features.  The silence/hush button feature temporarily disables the alarm so the occupant can ventilate the space from mild smoke conditions typically created during some cooking operations.  The use of these alarms eliminates the need to replace the batteries during the 10 year life of the alarm. 

The new law also requires homeowners to ensure they have a smoke alarm installed on each floor and outside each sleeping area, per National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommendations.  It is recommended to install smoke alarms inside each bedroom as well.

If your property is protected with 120 volt electric smoke alarms, they also should be replaced every 10 years with new 120 volt smoke alarms w/ battery back-up to ensure proper and timely operation in the event of a fire.  NOTE **Manufacturers have recently made available: 120 volt electric smoke alarms with 10 year lithium batteries to eliminate the need to replace batteries during the suggested life of the alarms.

State Fire Marshal - “CHANGE YOUR CLOCK – CHANGE YOUR BATTERY” - MAINTAIN WORKING SMOKE ALARMS

STATE FIRE MARSHAL BRIAN S. GERACI RECOMMENDS

CHANGE YOUR CLOCK – CHANGE YOUR BATTERY
MAINTAIN WORKING SMOKE ALARMS


          Statewide (October 26, 2015) – In anticipation of daylight savings time ending in the early morning hours of Sunday, November 1st, the State Fire Marshal is urging Marylanders to “Change Your Clock – Change Your Battery” in both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in their homes.  Recognizing that working smoke alarms and CO detectors double a family’s chance of surviving a home fire and/or an unsafe carbon monoxide level, the State Fire Marshal says Daylight Savings Time is a great opportunity for families to change the batteries.  “This simple procedure can help us avoid tragedies in the place we should feel the most secure – our homes.”

          REMINDER - A new law became effective on July 1, 2013 involving “battery only” smoke alarms used in Maryland residential properties.  When these “battery only” smoke alarms have reached their 10-year life span, they need to be replaced with new long-life sealed lithium battery smoke alarms with silence/hush button features.  The silence/hush button feature temporarily disables the alarm so the occupant can ventilate the space from mild smoke conditions typically created during some cooking operations.  The use of these alarms eliminates the need to replace the batteries during the 10 year life of the alarm. 

          The new law also requires homeowners to ensure they have a smoke alarm installed on each floor and outside each sleeping area, per National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommendations.  It is recommended to install smoke alarms inside each bedroom as well.

          If your property is protected with 120 volt electric smoke alarms, they also should be replaced every 10 years with new 120 volt smoke alarms w/ battery back-up to ensure proper and timely operation in the event of a fire.  NOTE ** Manufacturers have recently made available: 120 volt electric smoke alarms with 10 year lithium batteries to eliminate the need to replace batteries during the suggested life of the alarms. **

          Along with working smoke alarms and CO detectors, home escape plans are another way Marylanders can avoid injury or death in their homes.  By identifying at least two different escape routes, families can practice the plan together – before an emergency strikes.  Practicing the plan helps educate younger children to the danger of hazardous situations and the importance of recognizing that the sound of a smoke alarm or CO detector signals a potential hazard in the home.  “Changing the battery in your smoke alarms and CO detectors, along with developing and practicing a home escape plan, are three of the best ways to protect your loved ones and yourself from fire and carbon monoxide poisoning,” stated Fire Marshal Geraci.  These life saving electronic devices have a life expectancy of ten years for smoke alarms and seven years for CO detectors.  Please replace the units at these intervals to ensure optimal performance in the event an incident involving fire or a carbon monoxide leak was to occur.

          Please observe the overhead electronic signs as you travel throughout the State this weekend.  The Office of the State Fire Marshal and all Marylanders thank the Maryland Department of Transportation and the State Highway Administration for assisting to spread the word about this life saving reminder.
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          The Office of the State Fire Marshal is an agency of the Department of State Police dedicated to helping protect citizens from fire and explosion through a comprehensive program of education, inspection, investigation and fire protection engineering.  For more information on fire safety call 1-800-525-3124, log onto our website at: www.firemarshal.mdsp.gov and/or http://facebook.com/MarylandStateFireMarshal.

Media contact: Bruce D. Bouch, Deputy State Fire Marshal; 443-324-6876

Halloween Safety for Kids, Adults and Pets

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. For example, Council Member Karen Toles will be holding a District 7 Harvest Festival from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm on Friday, October 30, to which members of the community are invited.




Other local places 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 Saturday, October 31, there are numerous additional Halloween parties planned for both adults and children over the 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.

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.