Baltimore County Now
Louise Rogers-Feher, Public Safety Office of Media and Communications
Candles and lights, synonymous with the holiday season, can pose a risk to safety. The Baltimore County Fire Department asks everyone to follow basic precautions as we move into the holiday season.
Candles pose one of the most serious home fire risks – especially during the holidays. During a five-year period, 2007-2011, a national average of 29 home candle fires was reported every day. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are over twice as many home fires caused by candles in December compared to the other months of the year. We are in the peak time of year for home candle fires as they are left unattended or placed too close to holiday decorations.
Candle placement is important. Never place a candle near curtains. A slight breeze coming from a window or door could easily ignite the curtain and start a fire. Set candles on stable surfaces. Aunt Mae’s antique table may look pretty but is it sturdy enough to take a bump without spilling over the candle?
Don’t leave candles lit when you’re not around. If you’re leaving the room, snuff or blow out the candles.
To get the most light from your candle, use a glass hurricane cover. They reflect the light giving a brighter glow. They are both pretty and safe.
Tea light candles should not be set out on their own. There are many safe and festive tea light holders that will fit any décor.
Never leave children or pets alone in a room with lit candles. Beyond the threat of fire, melted wax can cause severe burns.
The best way to avoid a problem is to invest in battery powered candles. They glow bright without risk of fire.
Bright lights and safety
Electric lights pose different problems. The NFPA states electrical problems were factors in one third of Christmas tree structure fires.
Always buy lights that are indoor and outdoor approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
Throw away light sets with frayed wires. An exposed wire could cause a fire. You aren’t saving money if you wrap a light socket or frayed wire with electrical tape. And really, it looks bad.
When stringing outdoor lights, only use lights meant for the outdoors. Outdoor lights have plugs and sockets that are weatherproof. Rain, snow and wind can tear up decorations and pose an electrical hazard unless you use lights specifically designed for outdoor use.
The type of extension cord you use is important. Use a cord that is the right length for the job. Don’t connect one extension cord to another.
While you might want to hide the power or extension cords, don’t put them under rugs, carpets or furniture because this poses a fire hazard.
Common sense tells us not to run power cords or extension cords in high traffic areas. Someone could trip and pull the power plug out of the socket.
When using extension cords for outside lights and decorations, be sure that you’re using cords that are meant for outside.
Recycle your tree
Trees tell us when they’re done. Needles fall off. That’s your cue to get rid of the tree. The County will pick up trees at your house after Christmas and recycle them into mulch. It’s easy for you and great for the environment.
Enjoy the holidays.
Natalie Litofsky, Public Safety Office of Media and Communications
From the spooky decorations to the scary costumes, Halloween is a holiday that embraces the fun side of fear. Though zombies and vampires are imaginary dangers, it’s important to watch out for a real safety hazard on Halloween – cars.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Halloween is the second-deadliest day of the year for pedestrians.
Parents and children alike should remember these road safety tips while trick-or-treating:
· Trick-or-treat while there is still daylight. The sun sets around 6 p.m., so keep this in mind when planning your route. Talk with your neighbors in advance to let them know you’ll be trick-or-treating earlier in the evening.
· Stay within a familiar neighborhood. This is the best way to travel where you know there are safe places to cross the street.
· Be a role model when it comes to obeying pedestrian traffic laws. Cross only at a crosswalk or intersection, and only when signal indicates you may cross. Tell your kids to walk on the sidewalk. If there are no walkways, stay as close to the curb as possible.
· Provide children with flashlights or other non-flammable light sources so they can see and be seen while walking. Glow bracelets or reflective tape are also a good way to increase visibility after dark.
· If your child’s costume includes a mask, make sure the eye holes do not obstruct vision. Try a test walk down a hallway in your home to practice looking for traffic while wearing a mask.
· Kids should always be accompanied by an adult while trick-or-treating. As a general rule, it’s best to have one adult for every three to six children.
· If you are driving a car on Halloween, be aware of the increase in pedestrian traffic. Obey the posted speed limit, make sure your headlights are on and keep an eye out for pedestrians along the roadway.
More useful information on pedestrian safety can be found online at Baltimore County’s Walk Safe resource page.
Captain Bruce Schultz
Baltimore County Office of the Fire Marshal
When police, fire or medical emergencies occur, the single most critical link in the chain of survival is the citizen who calls 911 to report the situation and provide details.
Once a call comes into the 911 Center, a call taker answers the phone and begins to collect pertinent information about the location of the incident, type of emergency and phone numbers. They also can provide essential instructions to the caller about how to assist until the arrival of the police and/or fire department responders.
Once call takers determine which agency -- or both -- is needed, the call is routed to the police and/or fire dispatchers who assign the closest appropriate units and get them started towards the address of the emergency. While emergency responders are en-route, the 911 Center call taker will continue to gather additional information which provides responders with a better idea of the location and exactly what is happening.
Citizens can help responding units in a number of ways:
· In areas where long or common driveways exist, or in an apartment or office building, have someone meet the emergency units at the entrance and direct them into the exact location where help is needed.
· In recreational areas or shopping centers, take note of the building or store name and helpful landmarks. This can save precious minutes.
· Try your best to keep calm and provide as much specific information as you can about the location and the type of emergency you are reporting.
· If possible, have someone ready to meet and update the responders. The quicker responders can gauge the situation, the sooner the proper interventions can begin.
· Before an emergency occurs, make sure that your house or building has visible street numbers that are easy to read, even at night. The Baltimore County Fire Prevention Code requires residential numbers to be at least three inches in size. Commercial buildings must be marked with six- inch numbers.
These are some of the most important ways you can help us help you!