County Comment: Building safety month focuses on fire safety and awareness

County Comment
Building safety month focuses on fire safety and awareness
By Sarah Lankford Sprecher
Director of Public Relations & Community Affairs

Washington County Government proudly celebrates Building Safety during the month of May. This week's focus is on fire safety and awareness and we will highlight tips on how the County's first responders keep our County safe and continue to educate the public on fire safety.
The Washington County Division of Emergency Services recognizes the importance of emergency preparedness in creating stronger and resilient communities. Please access and participate in the resources listed below to learn how you can promote community safety by preventing fires.
Programs for Fire Safety and Awareness
* Children's Village of Washington County is a life safety education center located in Washington County. Students learn fire, traffic, water, pedestrian, and other personal safety skills. To learn more, contact 301-733-4443.
* Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Associations Fire Education Trailer
a) Hands on learning tool to teach people of all ages what to do in event of a fire.
b) To learn more, contact the association office at 301-714-0812.
* Various public safety education and demonstration opportunities through various local Fire, EMS, and Law Enforcement Agencies. Contact your specific local agency.
Fire Safety and Awareness Tips
Install smoke alarms in each bedroom, outside of sleeping areas and rooms and on each level of your home.
Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help.
When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Sprinklers are affordable - they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.
Test your smoke alarm each month and change the batteries at least once a year.
Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
Install noncombustible 1/4 inch or smaller mesh screening on attic/soffit vents and around
elevated wood decks to keep out embers. Install approved or listed spark arrestors on chimneys of solid fuel or liquid fuel burning appliances.
Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
Maintain a "defensible" space around your home by clearing all flammable vegetation a minimum of 30 feet around all structures. Clear dead leaves and branches to leave widely spaced ornamental shrubbery and trees.
Plant fire prone trees and shrubs away from your home and far enough apart so they won't ignite one another.
Connect With Us for Information
Connect with us daily for safety tips on www.facebook.com/WashingtonCountyMD, and email WashingtonCountyExpert@yahoo.com to "Ask the Expert" questions on building safety. To learn more about building code and safe structures, visit http://www2.icc-foundation.org/bsm-week-3.
Next Week's Building Safety Topic
Week of May 28th: Backyard Safety - Learn how to be safe in outdoor settings, as the County's Division of Plan Review and Permitting will highlight backyard pool safety.
About Washington County, Maryland Government
Washington County, Maryland Government strives to fulfill its duty to the citizens of Washington County with regard to operational efficiency, fiscal responsibility, and responsiveness to the needs of the community. This vision is used to ably assist the Board of County Commissioners of Washington County in achieving goals for moving the County forward as present needs and future plans are addressed.
According to the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, the Washington County General Fund has the lowest cost per capita for services provided of all 23 counties and Baltimore City. This is attributed to the efficiency, staffing levels, and cost containment exhibited in Washington County Government operations. Visit www.washco-md.net for more information.
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