Released on December 22, 2010 - 1:18pm
Dec 15

During the first six (6) months of 2010, there were twenty-seven (27) fires that resulted in thirty-seven (37) deaths in twelve (12) Maryland counties and Baltimore City. During the second week of December 2010, major fires occurred throughout the State claiming the lives of several adults and children.  Additionally, during this month there were several deaths resulting from carbon monoxide poisoning.

In an effort to protect citizens and to prevent fires within the Laurel area, Mayor Craig A. Moe directed the City’s Fire marshal to conduct an outreach in the Laurel area to provide safety tips and information:

Cooking Safety Tips

Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. It’s important to be alert to prevent cooking fires.

Safety Tips

  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.  
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or broiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire- oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains- away from your stovetop.

If you have a cooking fire:

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

    Selecting a Tree for the Holiday

Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard. 

Caring for Your Tree

Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

 Candle Care

Avoid Using Lit Candles

If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.

Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree

Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame- candles, lighters or matches.

As in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan.

Home Heating

  • Never use an oven as an alternative heat source.
  • Fireplaces are also widely used and extra caution should be taken while using them.
  • All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
  • Use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instruction. Have a qualified professional install the equipment.
  • Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO is created when fuels burn incompletely. CO poisoning can cause illness and even death.
  • Make sure the venting for exhaust is kept clear and unobstructed. This includes removal of snow around the outlet to the outside.
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms inside your home to provide early warning of carbon monoxide.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
  • Turn space heaters off when you leave a room or go to sleep.

Carbon Monoxide Safety/Detectors

Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause serious illness and death if a leak goes undetected. Carbon Monoxide Detectors are an inexpensive “must have” for your home to ensure the safety of the entire family.

  • Install Carbon Monoxide detectors (make sure they are approved by a recognized laboratory) inside your home to provide warning of accumulating Carbon Monoxide. Carbon Monoxide detectors should be installed in a central location outside of each sleeping area
  • Test your Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Smoke Alarms at least once a month
  • Be sure to replace Carbon Monoxide Detectors based on manufacturer’s instructions
  • Never use the oven to heat your home
  • Carbon Monoxide Detectors are NOT replacements for Smoke Alarms.
  • Be sure that the vents for the dryer, furnace, fireplace, and stove are clear of snow build-up after snow storms
  • When using your fireplace, open the flue to ensure adequate ventilation
  • Be sure to thoroughly clean dryer vents once a year. Clean out the lint filter of your dryer after each use.   

"Reproduced from NFPA's Fire Prevention Week Web site, ©2010 NFPA."

Fire Marshal Cope encourages everyone to share this information with their family, friends and co-workers.  If you would like further information or have questions, please contact the Fire Marshal’s Office at 301-725-5300 Ext. 2238.

For Immediate Release
December 15, 2010
Contact:   James Collins, Public Information Officer
               301-725-5300, ext. 244
                E-Mail: [email protected]
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The Department of Communications provides useful information of public interest and importance to the community, residents and businesses within the city limits, as well as the greater Laurel area.