News Headlines...February 2014
To go straight to any of February's news click on the links below.
Pancake Day Safety | Service Prepares For More Flooding | Partner Agency Safety Warning | Flood Water Pumping Advice | Flood Incidents & Advice | Sprinkler Week 2014 |
Wednesday 26 February
Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is issuing safety advice ahead of Shrove Tuesday next week (Tuesday 4 March).
With the prospect of eating some delicious pancakes, Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day as many people know it as, is generally a day to look forward to. However, if you are planning to cook your own pancakes this year, please take a moment to think about safety in the kitchen as you do so.
As with cooking chips or anything involving hot fat, it’s vital to take care when making pancakes to avoid the risk of a fire. Be sure never to leave the frying pan unattended and ensure children are kept a safe distance away from the stove.
Station Commander Alan Haley from the Community Safety department at HWFRS said: “Making pancakes can be lots of fun for the whole family but a high proportion of accidental fires in the home start in the kitchen, and so it’s essential to take care, especially when cooking with hot oil.”
He urged anyone cooking pancakes to take note of the following safety tips:
- Never leave the pan unattended when the heat is switched on
- Keep children safely away from the cooking area
- Ensure all appliances are turned off once you’ve finished cooking
- NEVER attempt to move the pan if it should catch fire
- Do not take risks. If the pan should catch fire, turn off the heat only if it’s safe to do so. Never throw water over the pan.
- Do not tackle the fire yourself, but GET OUT, STAY OUT, CALL 999.
SC Haley also urged people to test their smoke alarms are working, both on Shrove Tuesday before they cook their pancakes, and afterwards on a regular basis.
Further kitchen safety advice is available at www.hwfire.org.uk under the Your Safety section.
Friday 14 February
With heavy rainfall expected for at least the next 24 hours, firefighters and officers from Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) are prepared to respond to flooding situations.
The Service has remained busy over the past few days and has not only responded to 999 calls but has sent boats crews out to check properties and to ensure people are safe and not at any risk.
There are boat crews available at Hereford, Worcester, Evesham and Droitwich Fire Stations and Water First Responder teams available at Malvern, Upton, Pershore, Kidderminster, Bromyard, Tenbury Wells, Leintwardine and Ross-on-Wye.
Area Commander Mark Preece said: “We have been working closely with our colleagues in other agencies over the last week including; West Mercia Police, the Environment Agency and local councils. Everyone is working hard to try and ensure our communities are kept as safe as possible from the floods.
“We are grateful for the support from the military and we currently have a number of army officers based at our Fire Station in Upton. They will be deployed as and when needed by any of the agencies. I must also acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the Severn Area Rescue Association and West Midlands Search and Rescue – these are volunteer agencies which provide boat support to us as and when needed.”
The road networks across Herefordshire and Worcestershire are affected by flooding and the situation can change rapidly. Therefore motorists are urged to check for road closures by either tuning in to local radio, visiting news and travel websites or checking on Worcestershire County Council’s website or Herefordshire Council’s website. Road users should not drive through floodwater as the risk can be significant. The majority of flooding related 999 calls to HWFRS’ has been to motorists stuck in floodwater.
The Service would also like to emphasise that Worcester is still open for business despite the current city bridge closure. Worcestershire County Council will be providing free Park & Ride on both Saturday and Sunday from Perdiswell between 7am and 7pm.
Friday 14 February
As local schools break up for the half-term holidays, Superintendent Mark Travis of West Mercia Police has taken the opportunity to remind people across the region to act responsibly and not put themselves at risk by behaving recklessly during the ongoing extreme weather conditions.
With water levels at unprecedented levels right across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, West Mercia Police, as well as partner agencies such as the various local councils, the Fire & Rescue Service and the Environment Agency, are concerned that people – including children - may leave themselves exposed to danger by playing close to, or even in flood water that is currently standing in many places.
Even in normal circumstances police warn people against playing in rivers, lakes and ponds but with conditions as extreme as they are at the present time, these warnings are even more pertinent.
Speaking about police concerns, Superintendent Travis said:
“We would like to ask people to behave responsibly around the flood water we currently have across West Mercia as you simply never know what lies underneath the water itself or what currents are at work under the surface of it.
“With young people now breaking up for the half term holidays I would ask that they do not do anything reckless in an attempt to impress their friends, or get too close to flood water through being interested in what is happening.
“No matter how harmless or shallow flood water looks, you can never be sure what lies beneath the surface of the water and therefore by the time you realise you are in danger it could be too late.
“We’d also like to remind people of the need to behave responsibly in places such as Worcester, Hereford and Shrewsbury where there is a more active night-time economy. The last thing we want is people getting themselves into difficulty because they have lost control due to alcohol intake.
“Please remember that the emergency services are working extremely hard to help those people who have become vulnerable due to the extreme weather conditions and that resources are stretched right across the country.
“The last thing we need to be dealing with is people who have entered the water through their own recklessness or stupidity.
“Having to respond to incidents of this nature would take support away from the people who really are most in need of our help.”
For updates and information about the current flood conditions right across West Mercia, please log on to the dedicated page on our force website at www.westmercia.police.uk/flooding.html.
In addition, to find out more about keeping yourself safe you could also visit the Flood Safety page on the Royal Life Saving Society’s website at www.rlss.org.uk/index.php/water-safety/water-safety-in-a-flood.
Wednesday 12 February
Business and home owners affected by the floods are being urged not to use petrol or diesel water pumps in confined spaces as they can pose a significant safety risk and as has happened in the past, can lead to a loss of life.
Petrol or diesel fuelled generators used to power water pumps or other flood recovery devices such as dehumidifiers or fans, which can be used following flooding will give off a variety of toxic gases including carbon monoxide fumes. These fumes can overcome people in the building or near vicinity if used in an enclosed space.
Area Commander Jon Pryce, Head of Operations for Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Whilst we completely understand that people will want to remove floodwater from their properties, pumps and other machinery powered by petrol or diesel are designed for outdoor use. This is because they emit hazardous carbon monoxide fumes. We would urge people not to use them inside buildings or in areas without adequate ventilation.”
Signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure:
- The signs or symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure copy many common illnesses and can easily be confused with flu or simple tiredness.
- At low levels, carbon monoxide exposure may cause poor concentration, memory and vision problems, and loss of muscle coordination and can have an accumulative effect poisoning the individual over a period of hours or even days.
- At higher levels, it may cause headaches, fatigue, vomiting and nausea. At very high levels, the symptoms intensify and it can prove fatal within a matter of hours.
As a precaution we recommend the use of battery powered carbon monoxide detectors which look similar to smoke detectors and can be easily purchased and fitted by anyone.
Monday 10 February
Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) attended 17 flood-related incidents over the weekend and gave advice to numerous concerned members of the public.
Nine of these incidents were in Herefordshire and eight were in Worcestershire and involved either motorists stranded in their vehicles in flood water or residents with flood water in their properties.
Fire crews and Water First Responders helped rescue the occupants of nine vehicles stranded in flood water (one in Hereford, one in Redditch, one in Leominster, two in Tenbury, one in Eardisley and three in Leintwardine).
They assisted seven properties (two in Worcester, one in Bewdley, one in Upton-upon-Severn, one in Kington and two in Kingsland) that had been affected by flood water. Fire crews also rescued a dog stationary on debris in flood water in Worcester.
Station Commander Alan Haley from the Community Safety department, HWFRS said: “The forecast is for more rain and we would urge motorists to be extra vigilant while the current conditions continue”.
He continued “Please use common sense and follow our simple advice. Stay alert to local weather and news reports and if your local area is experiencing flooding it’s advisable to leave any non-essential travel until any flooding has subsided”.
HWFRS has provided the following flood advice:
- For up to date flood watch information please call Floodline on
0845 988 1188 (24 hour line)
- If you know your home is at risk of flooding, prepare a list of useful phone numbers and keep it somewhere safe
- If your home does begin to flood, turn off your electricity supply, and do not touch any sources of electricity such as switches or appliances when you are standing in flood water
- If you have an elderly or vulnerable family member or neighbour who is at risk of flooding, contact them to ensure they are prepared and know what to do should their home flood
- Don't try to drive through standing water - as well as the water damaging your car, there may be hazards under the water you can't see
- Listen out for warnings on radio and TV.
Monday 3 February
Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is supporting the first National Sprinkler Week which focuses on ‘The Business Case for Sprinklers’ in buildings.
The week-long national campaign has been launched at the House of Commons and starts today. It will raise awareness about sprinklers and focus on the protection they provide, not only to lives but also property and livelihood.
Adrian Elliott, Group Commander Community Risk said: “Sprinklers protect against the real cost of fires on people, their property, business sustainability, the wider community, environment and economy.” The Service will continue to encourage businesses, landlords and housing associations to consider new installations and also retro-fitting sprinklers in properties where people are most at risk from fire.
Staff from the Service will continue to engage with local businesses, raising the profile of sprinklers and dispelling some common myths, including;
When there is a fire all the sprinkler heads go off at once: Wrong, each head is independent and only the head(s) adjacent to the fire go off as the heads are activated by heat and not smoke.
Sprinklers can go off accidentally: Wrong, evidence shows that the chance of an accidental discharge from a sprinkler is approximately 16 million to one.
Water damage is as bad as the fire damage: Wrong, a typical sprinkler discharges 55 litres per minute. A firefighting hose discharges over 600 litres per minute. You can expect a sprinkler to discharge less than 5% of the water used by the fire service.
Sprinkler week 2014 is supported by the Chief Fire Officers Association and by Fire and Rescue Services across the UK.
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