Montgomery County, MD- - Get ready for another arctic blast. A winter storm warning remains in effect until 11:00 p.m. this evening and a wind chill advisory remains in effect until noon on Wednesday. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue offers the following tips as more cold weather arrives in the area. With gusty winds and temps with wind chills predicted to drop well below zero, it’s important to be prepared, monitor the weather, be safe and take a minute to check on elderly or homebound neighbors and friends.
Give space heaters space and ensure at least 3 feet clearance from combustibles (anything that can burn). Dedicate an outlet for the space heater and do not overload the electrical circuit. Always stay in the room while a space heater is operating, turn it off when leaving the area or room and follow manufacturer recommendations when using space heaters.
Firing up the fireplace? Never discard ashes inside or near the home. Let them completely cool down and place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house, garage or decks or other combustibles. NEVER dispose of ashes in a paper or plastic bag, cardboard box, trash can, recycling bin or bucket. Ashes can remain hot enough to rekindle several days after a fire.
Remember: no ash in the trash.
Never use a range or an oven as a supplemental heating device. Not only is it a safety hazard, it can be a source of potentially toxic fumes.
Make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning by installing a CO detector in your home and be sure to test your smoke alarm monthly to ensure it’s working. Remember, never warm-up your car in an attached garage or carport.
Keep a cold weather kit in your car. Include important safety items such as a fully charged cell phone, a blanket, flashlight, ice scraper, gloves, hat, scarf and a first-aid kit.
- Fill up a gallon size baggie with kitty litter to keep in the car during the winter in case you get stuck in the ice.
- Be sure to have the proper amount of antifreeze in your vehicle. Antifreeze works to prevent your engine block from freezing.
- Check your wipers and ensure you have plenty of windshield wiper fluid. Want your wipers to last longer? Don’t turn them on until after they’re cleared of ice and snow.
Slippery driveways and sidewalks can be particularly hazardous in the winter. Keep them well-shoveled and apply materials such as rock salt or sand to improve traction.
It is a good time to talk to your kids about cold weather safety. Extra care is needed, especially with younger children, to ensure they are prepared for the bitter cold weather in the forecast.
- Ice dangers: Despite the cold temps, there is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice in our region. Remind children to stay away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water that may appear to be frozen or have a thin coating of ice.
- If you witness someone falling through the ice, the best way to help them is to immediately call 9-1-1 so rescue personnel can quickly be dispatched. Resist the urge to go out on the ice after them or else you could fall through too. Would-be rescuers frequently become victims when they fall through the ice as well.
- Keep an eye on the location where the victim is so you can direct rescuers to that location.
- While waiting for rescue personnel to arrive on the scene, extend or throw a long object to the victim such as rope, pole, tree limb or even a scarf to help pull them to shore. If using a rope, have the victim tie the rope around them in case they become weakened by the cold and are unable to hold onto the rope. Reassure them that help is on the way and if they are able to self-rescue out of the water take immediate measures to keep them warm to help prevent hypothermia while waiting for rescue personnel to arrive.
- Keep dogs on leashes around frozen bodies of waters. Many dogs are seriously injured or killed after falling through ice.
The high incidence of sledding injuries is related to a combination of speed, steep hills, bumpy terrain and often icy conditions. Make sure that sledding areas do not cross any traffic areas and are clear of hazards such as trees, rocks, fences, telephone poles, ponds and other dangers. The majority of sledding injuries are caused by collisions. Remember the safest sledding position is feet first. Sledding headfirst increases the risk of head injury and should be avoided. Fire officials in Montgomery County recommend that children wear a helmet when sledding.