Sonoma County Emergency and Preparedness Information
The Do's and Don'ts of Call 9-1-1
You should always call 9-1-1(see Note About Cell Phones below) to report an emergency, but only an emergency.
ABOUT THE 9-1-1 SYSTEM
The 9-1-1 system is designed to quickly and efficiently dispatch everyone—police, fire, ambulance—needed to assist with an emergency. Top priority is placed on answering 9-1-1 lines.
However, abuse of 9-1-1 is an increasing problem for dispatch centers throughout the country. (It is estimated that as many as 60 percent of calls received at 9-1-1 are non-emergency calls). When a 9-1-1 operator gets a call asking what the temperature is or whether or not there was just an earthquake, the 9-1-1 operator is prevented from assisting someone whose life may be at stake.
The most important thing you can do to help ensure prompt emergency response is to never call 9-1-1 unless it is an emergency.
WHAT IS AN EMERGENCY?
It’s clear by the type of calls 9-1-1 centers routinely receive that there is confusion as to what constitutes an actual emergency. An “emergency” is an event that poses immediate, significant threat to life and/or property:
A heart attack or stroke is an emergency; a broken finger is not.
A teen threatening his parent is an emergency; a teen refusing to obey his parent is not.
A noise from your neighbor that sounds like a violent physical encounter is an emergency; a noisy party is not.
WHEN SHOULD I CALL 9-1-1?
Below are some examples to serve as a guideline in determining when to call 9-1-1 and when not to:
Do CALL 911
for the following:
Do NOT call 911
for the following:
WHAT IS THE NON-EMERGENCY NUMBER I SHOULD CALL?
Police departments and fire departments have non-emergency numbers listed in the phone book, in the government listings at the front of the white pages. To report a non-emergency event requiring law enforcement intervention, both the Windsor Police Department and the Sonoma County Sherriff dispatch can be reached at(707) 565-2121.
If you live in another agency’s jurisdiction, look in your phone book’s government listing for your local agencies’ non-emergency numbers.
A NOTE ABOUT CELL PHONES
Cell-phone calls to 9-1-1 are routed through the CHP dispatch center in Solano County and have to be transferred back to Sonoma County for dispatch, which creates a delay even when answered promptly. In addition, cell phone calls to 9-1-1 may be placed on hold for a minute or more. Therefore, it is a good idea to store the Sonoma County Sherriff’s dispatch number (707) 565-2121 in your cell phone and use that number when using your cell phone to report emergencies in Sonoma County.
If you live in a community served by a City police and/or fire department, look in the phone book or contact that agency or look on the agency’s website for the appropriate seven-digit emergency number.
A FEW RULES TO FOLLOW WHEN TALKING WITH THE 9-1-1 OPERATOR
When you have to dial 9-1-1 be prepared to stay on the line and answer the questions asked of you by the dispatcher. Remember, dispatchers are trained to gather the information needed to determine the most appropriate response by police, fire and/or medical personnel. The answers to questions that might seem unrelated to your emergency may provide information necessary to ensure the safety of the firefighters and/or police officers who are responding.
In most cases, even while you are still being asked questions, the appropriate agencies have already have been dispatched and are on the way.
Stay on the line until the dispatcher tells you it is OK to hang up. If it is not safe for you to stay on the line, set the phone receiver down without hanging up. This will allow the dispatcher to possibly hear any background noises that might assist the responding units.
WHAT IF I CALL 9-1-1 BY MISTAKE?
If you accidentally misdial 9-1-1, do not just hang up. Stay on the line until a dispatcher answers, and then tell the dispatcher it was an accident. This will prevent the 9-1-1 operator from having to call you back and inquire as to wheather there is an emergency, saving the dispatcher time to handle actual emergencies.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) discourages the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil.
These turkey fryers use a substantial quantity of cooking oil at high temperatures, and units currently available for home use pose a significant danger that hot oil will be released at some point during the cooking process. The use of turkey fryers by consumers can lead to devastating burns, other injuries and the destruction of property. NFPA urges those who prefer fried turkey to seek out professional establishments, such as grocery stores, specialty food retailers, and restaurants for the preparation of the dish, or consider a new type of “oil-less” turkey fryer.”
Hot oil may splash or spill at any point during the cooking process, when the fryer is jarred or tipped over, the turkey is placed in the fryer or removed, or the turkey is moved from the fryer to the table. Any contact between hot oil and skin could result in serious injury (Severe burns are excruciatingly painful and permanently disfiguring.) Any contact between hot oil and nonmetallic materials could lead to serious damage.
A major spill of hot oil can occur with fryers designed for outdoor use and using a stand as these units are particularly vulnerable to upset or collapse, followed by a major spill of hot oil. Newer countertop units using a solid base appear to reduce this particular risk. NFPA does not believe that consumer education alone can make the risks of either type of turkey fryer acceptably low because of the large quantities of hot oil involved and the speed and severity of burn likely to occur with contact.
In deep frying, oil is heated to temperatures of 350 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Cooking oil is combustible, and if it is heated beyond its cooking temperature, its vapors can ignite. This is a fire danger separate from the burn danger inherent in the hot oil. Overheating can occur if temperature controls, which are designed to shut off the fryer if the oil overheats, are defective, or if the appliance has no temperature controls.
Propane-fired turkey fryers are designed for outdoor use, particularly for Thanksgiving, by which time both rain and snow are common in many parts of the country. If rain or snow strikes exposed hot cooking oil, the result can be a splattering of the hot oil or a conversion of the rain or snow to steam, either of which can lead to burns. Use of propane-fired turkey fryers indoors to avoid bad weather is contrary to their design and dangerous in its own right. Also, moving an operating turkey fryer indoors to escape bad weather is extremely risky. Fires have occurred when turkey fryers were used in a garage or barn or under eaves to keep the appliance out of the rain.
The approximately 5 gallons of oil in these devices introduce an additional level of hazard to deep fryer cooking, as does the size and weight of the turkey, which must be safely lowered into and raised out of the large quantity of hot oil. Many turkeys are purchased frozen, and they may not be fully thawed when cooking begins. As with a rainy day, a defrosting turkey creates the risk of contact between hot cooking oil.
There is a new outdoor turkey cooking appliance that does not use oil. NFPA believes these should be considered as an alternative. NFPA understands that this appliance will be listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
NFPA continues to believe that turkey fryers that use oil, as currently designed, are not suitable for acceptably safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer. Consumers may find packaging of turkey fryers displaying independent product safety testing labels. NFPA is familiar with the details of these test standards and does not believe that they are sufficiently comprehensive regarding the different ways in which serious harm can occur, and, in some cases, regarding the different parts of the turkey fryer that need to be tested.
NFPA does not test, label or approve any products.
Everyone in the Geyserville Fire Protection District family wishes you and your family a happy holiday season and a happy new year.
As you celebrate this joyous season, we also want you to be safe. Please take a couple of minutes to review these safety precautions:
- When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
- When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators, or portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
- Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
- Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.”
- Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. To hold lights in place, we recommend purchasing plastic holders designed for this purpose. As an alternative, string them through hooks or insulated staples. Never use nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
- Check all tree lights—even if you’ve just purchased them—before hanging them on your tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets, or loose connections.
- Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) to avoid potential shocks.
Always turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
- Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree.
- Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down. If you have small children, place the candles high enough that the children cannot reach them.
- In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.
- Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass “angel hair.” Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.
- Remove all wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These items can pose choking and suffocation risks to children, and they can easily catch fire. They should be disposed of in your recycling bin, not burned in the fireplace.
- Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.
- Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully.
To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don’t give young children (under age 10) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
- Children under age 3 can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age 3 cannot have parts less than 1-1/4 inches in diameter and 2-1/4 inches long.
- Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length as they can be a strangulation hazard for babies.
- Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
- Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed.
- Keep a laminated list with all of the important phone numbers you or a baby-sitter are likely to need in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department (always call 9-1-1 if it’s an emergency), your pediatrician, and the national Poison Help Line, 1-800-222-1222.
- Traveling, visiting family members, getting presents, shopping, etc., can all increase your child’s stress levels. Trying to stick to your child’s usual routines, including sleep schedules and timing of naps, can help you and your child enjoy the holidays and reduce stress.
- Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
- Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
Senior Citizen Safety
Statistics show that people 65 and older are far more likely to die in home fires than the rest of the population. At age 75, the risk more than doubles. Several factors contribute to the higher risk: As we age, our skin becomes thinner and more vulnerable to fire. Additionally, as we age, our reflexes slow down. And we are more likely to be on medication that causes drowsiness, further impeding reflex time.
Therefore, it is especially important that we seniors do everything possible to make our environment as safe as possible. While there is no 100 percent foolproof way of preventing a home fire, many things can be done to decrease the likelihood of a fire occurring as well as increasing the likelihood of your surviving should one occur.
The most important rule: Be sure your smoke detector is working. Change the batteries twice a year: in the spring when you turn your clock forward, and in the fall, when you turn your clock back.
If your smoke detector is located too high for you to safely reach it, ask a family member to help you or call the fire department (857-3535 — NOT 911) and ask for assistance.
SMOKING SAFETY—Smoking is the number one cause of fire deaths among senior citizens.
Do not smoke if you feel drowsy.
- NEVER, NEVER, NEVER smoke in bed.
- Whenever possible, go outside to a concrete patio or walkway to smoke. You’re less likely to doze off outside, and a cigarette dropped on concrete isn’t likely to start a fire.
- If you have been smoking inside, always check armchairs and sofas for lit embers and sparks before you go to bed. Embers can smolder for hours and catch fire after everyone is asleep.
- Be especially careful about smoking if you are consuming alcohol; even more so if you take medication and are consuming alcohol.
- Use deep ashtrays, and make sure all embers are out and no part of the ashtray feels hot before you go to bed.
- To be on the safe side, put the ashtray in an empty sink before you retire.
- In addition, look around your home and make sure you don’t have any of the following hazards.
- Discard any electrical appliance (including heating pads, electric blankets, coffee makers, etc.) whose cord insulation is dried and/or cracked, even if the appliance still works.
- Consider using a wool mattress pad, flannel sheets, and/or down comforter to keep you warm while you sleep, rather than using electric heating pads and/or electric blankets.
- Never run electrical cords near or over heater vents or other heat sources.
- Never run electrical cords under carpets or rugs.
- Never run electrical cords across walkways or through doorways.
- Never secure electrical cords to walls or floors with nails, tacks, or staples.
- Don’t overload your electrical outlets.
- Space heaters must be used with utmost caution.
- Space heaters should have a feature that shuts them off automatically if they tip over. DO NOT use a space heater that does not have this feature. Throw it away and buy a new one.
- Space heaters need space around them. Always keep your space heater at least three feet from drapes, upholstery, bedding, walls, and/or anything else that can catch fire.
- Always turn space heaters off when you leave the house or when you go to bed.
- Be very careful that your clothing doesn’t brush against a space heater.
- Space heaters should not be used in the bathroom or around any source of water.
- Never leave cooking food unattended. If called away from the kitchen, turn the burner(s) off.
- Avoid wearing long, loose sleeves or loose clothing while cooking.
- Turn the pot handles away from the front of the stove toward the outside of the stove, not over another burner.
- If a fire starts in the oven, simply close the oven door, and turn the oven heat off.
- If a pan of grease catches fire, try to slide the cover over the top. NEVER put water on it and do not try to pick it up to put it in the sink.
- If the fire spreads beyond the stove, leave your home immediately. Go to a neighbor’s and call 911.
FIRE DRILLS AREN’T JUST FOR SCHOOL
- Think about what you will do if your home catches fire
- Plan two ways out of every room
- Practice your exits at night—most home fire occur at night; rooms fill quickly with smoke, leaving very little, if any, light
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR HOME CATCHES ON FIRE
- If you can safely do so, get out immediately; go to a neighbor’s and call 911.
- NEVER reenter a burning building.
- If the fire is between you and the exit, go to a room with a window. Close the door and put towels, blankets, etc around the bottom of the door to keep smoke out. Call 911 and tell the operator you are trapped in the room. If the room has no phone, go to the window and scream “Fire” at the top of your lungs.
- If you awaken to find your home on fire, and your bedroom door is closed, feel the door before you open it. If it is hot to the touch, DO NOT open the door. Stuff blankets around the bottom of the door, and follow the instructions above.
- If you awaken to a room full of smoke, do not sit up in bed. Roll off to the floor and crawl to the exit door or window. Smoke rises: the best air is near the floor.
IF YOUR CLOTHES CATCH ON FIRE, remember to STOP, DROP, and ROLL
STOP where you are—running will fan the flames
DROP down to the ground
ROLL over and over, covering your face with your hands.
For more information:
The Burn Institute
Safety Info about Kids
Curious Kids Set Fires
Every day Americans experience the tragedy of fire. Each year more than 4,000 Americans die in fires and approximately 20,000 are injured. Figures show that each year about 150 people are killed and $200 million in property is destroyed in fires attributed to children playing with fire.
The fire service encourages parents to teach children at an early age about the dangers of fireplay in an effort to prevent child injuries, fire deaths and firesetting behavior in the future. Below are some facts about children and fire safety.
Curious Kids Set Fires
- Children under five are curious about fire. Often what begins as a natural exploration of the unknown can lead to tragedy.
- Children of all ages set over 35,000 fires annually. Approximately 8,000 of those fires are set in homes.
- Children make up 15-20% of all fire deaths.
- At home, children usually play with fire in bedrooms, in closets and under beds. These are “secret” places where there are a lot of things that catch fire easily.
- Too often, child firesetters are not given proper guidance and supervision by parents and teachers. Consequently, they repeat their firesetting behavior.
Practice Fire Safety in Your Home
- Supervise young children closely. Do not leave them alone even for short periods of time.
- Keep matches and lighters in a secured drawer or cabinet.
- Have your children tell you when they find matches and lighters.
- Check under beds and in closets for burned matches, evidence your child may be playing with fire.
- Develop a home fire escape plan, practice it with your children and designate a meeting place outside.
- Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
- Teach children the nature of fire. It is FAST, HOT, DARK and DEADLY!
- Teach children not to hide from firefighters, but to get out quickly and call for help from another location.
- Show children how to crawl low on the floor, below the smoke, to get out of the house and stay out in the case of fire.
- Demonstrate how to stop, drop to the ground and roll if their clothes catch fire.
- Install smoke alarms on every level in your home.
- Familiarize children with the sound of your smoke alarm.
- Test the smoke alarm each month and replace the battery at least once a year.
- Replace the smoke alarm every ten years, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.