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Baltimore County Now

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Keyword: safety

Louise Rogers-Feher
Public Safety Information Specialist

Carbon monoxide (CO) is deadly. A byproduct of any combustible fuel, CO is tasteless, odorless and colorless. Death from CO poisoning can happen in a matter of hours.

The most recent national data shows a mortality rate of 430 deaths per year. At least 15,000 people are sent to the emergency room every year because of CO. It doesn’t have to happen.

CO is measured in parts per million (ppm). The higher the ppm level, the greater danger and the less time it will take to become seriously ill – or die.

The longer a person is exposed to CO, the greater the chance for serious illness or death.

At 200 ppm, a patient will experience mild headache, fatigue, nausea and dizziness after two to three hours. As the ppm rise, the symptoms intensify.

At 800 ppm, a patient will experience convulsions after 45 minutes and may become unconscious and die within two to three hours.

Death by carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable.

What precautions should you take?

  • Install CO detectors in your home. The CO alarm saves lives by letting you know you have a CO problem.
  • Place one near sleeping areas and one in the living areas.
  • Test CO alarms once a month.
  • CO alarms have two sounds. One sound is the alarm and the other sound means the battery is low. Test them to know the difference.
  • If the battery is low, replace it.
  • If the alarm sounds, leave immediately and get outside to the fresh air. Call 911 from a fresh air location. DO NOT open the windows or doors other than your exit door. Fire fighters will need to take a reading of the CO levels to determine the source of the leak.
  • CO detectors are sold in national chain stores and hardware stores.
  • Keep generators at least 15 feet from doors and windows.
  • Never use gas or charcoal grills inside the home.Don’t use gas ovens to heat the house.
  • Check gas appliances regularly as they can be a source for CO leaks.
  • Never leave your vehicle running in the garage even if the car tailpipe is facing out of the garage. Take the vehicle outside.
  • In the event of snow, clear tailpipes on all vehicles.
  • Clear snow from dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace vents. During a major snowstorm, you’ll probably need to do this a few times.
  • Leave the fireplace vent open after putting out the fire. You may close the glass doors, but not the vent. Hot embers produce CO if air is cut off. If you must close the vent, place the embers and ashes in a metal container; place it outside, away from the house.

Stay safe – get a CO alarm!


Natalie Litofsky, Public Safety Office of Media and Communications

photo of house in winterIf you’re planning to take a vacation this holiday season, it’s important for you to add home security to your travel safety checklist. There are simple precautions you can take to keep your home protected from both theft and damage. Just a few extra minutes spent securing your home will help give you the peace of mind to enjoy your trip.

Lock all doors and windows

While most people remember to lock the main door of the home, it’s important to check all the entry points to the house. This includes sliding doors, basement doors, and the interior door that leads to the garage. It’s also essential to lock the windows on each level of your home, not just the ground floor.

Turn off electronics

To help save on energy costs and avoid potential hazards, turn off and unplug small electronics while you’re away. Examples would be items such as a toaster, coffee maker, hair dryer or fan. Larger electronics such as computers and televisions should be plugged into a surge protector in case of sudden power loss.

Water and heat

If you live in an area where pipes are likely to freeze, it’s important to make sure your furnace stays running while you’re away. Most programmable thermostats have a “vacation mode” that will keep your home above freezing while still conserving energy. If you plan to be away for an extended period of time, you may want to consider turning off the water supply from outside your home and draining the pipes.

Perform a maintenance check

Check to be sure there are fresh batteries in your smoke detectors. Make sure that exterior lights have working bulbs to keep the property illuminated at night, and use a timer to turn them on and off. You should also prepare for the possibility of snow while you’re on vacation. Arrange for someone to shovel your walkways and driveway while you’re out of town. Not only is this important for the safety of your neighbors, but it also prevents would-be burglars from knowing the home is not occupied.

Notify a neighbor

Tell a trusted neighbor the dates you’re leaving and returning home. If they know you’re out of town, they’ll be more likely to notice and report suspicious activity. If you’ll be away for more than a day, ask if they’re willing to collect your mail and newspapers. A pile of unclaimed mail is a red flag for would-be thieves that nobody is home. If there is no one available to collect your mail, you can also speak with the post office about stopping mail delivery for the duration of your trip.

Don’t broadcast your location

Social media sites are great ways to keep in touch with friends and family, but they’re also great tools for burglars to use in choosing targets. Don’t post photos or statements that would let someone know that you’re away from home. You should also refrain from using a location “check-in” app that places you out of town. If you want to keep in touch with a friend or family member while you’re away, do so using a more private form of communication such as an email or text message.


safety sign with jack-o-lantern imageNatalie 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.
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