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Firefighters serve up safety tips … and chili

Thanks to local firefighter and chef extraordinaire John Bittner, attendees of the recent meeting of the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch were treated to delicious homemade chili on Jan. 19 at the CPD Firehouse 32, 5555 S. Narragansett Ave., Chicago

GRNW president Al Cacciatolo opened the meeting by presenting St. Laurence high school student Justin Seahoffer with a plaque of appreciation for his tireless work distributing blue ribbons to local residents and businesses.

The Blue Ribbon project was created to honor Chicago Police and all law enforcement officers in the wake of the Dec. 20 murders of New York City police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.{{more}}

The ribbons, which encircle poles and trees throughout the city, are available at the 23rd Ward office of Ald. Michael Zalewski, 6247 S. Archer Ave., Chicago, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by contacting the GRNW.

Also receiving a plaque was area resident and businessman Al Torres for his updating of the GRNW website (http://www.garfieldridgenw.com/nw.com). The site contains a comprehensive listing of upcoming meeting dates and community events, as well as regular updates on neighborhood criminal activity. Viewers may also access links to Facebook and an anonymous hotline to report suspicious activity.

The night’s meeting agenda included a presentation on fire safety by local resident and firefighter Chuck Maes of Truck 6, who offered many important tips and advice to a captive audience. He cited two fatalities from a recent fire that broke out on South Mulligan Avenue, attributing it to careless cooking or a forgotten candle.

ÒGrease fires are especially hazardous,” he warned. ÒEveryone wants to put out a grease fire in the oven by (dousing) it with water. That is the worst thing to do. Never open your oven door. Fires feed on oxygen. Turn off your oven right away and the fire will go out.

ÒElectrical fires are a common occurrence resulting from overloaded circuits,” he cautioned. ÒEspecially during the holidays when (homeowners) are putting up lights and decorating the Christmas tree. Never overload the outlets in your home.”

Maes talked about smoke detectors, which are provided free of charge by the fire department. ÒAlways remember to change the batteries in your smoke detectors. When they start to chirp… it’s annoying. Don’t just take the battery out to stop the beeping. Always have a new battery on hand.”

He warned that smoke detectors do not last forever (about 10 years), and should be replaced, as needed. The same is true for CO detectors (5 to 10 years.) ANSI/ UL specifications have changed to require all CO alarms and combination smoke/CO alarms to have an end of life feature. This is an industry wide change, in effect since 2009.

ÒKnowledge is power,” he stressed. ÒAlways read the operating instructions so that you know the difference between an actual alarm and a low power indicator. If you suspect that the alarm is responding to high levels of carbon monoxide, alert all persons in the house or apartment and get out immediately. If someone is incapable of leaving, call 911.”

Early signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, fatigue and listlessness. The filters in CO detectors take in CO that, if allowed to build up over time, may trip the alarm. If this happens, get a new CO detector, said Maes.

Gas is another danger. Natural gas can escape from furnaces, stoves, and clothes dryers. If you smell gas in your home, call 911, then go outside immediately. The gas company will also come out to check your gas appliances.

Every household should have a fire extinguisher on hand. ÒA Class ABC fire extinguisher is a good choice for flammable liquids and combustibles,” Maes said. ÒAgain, read the instructions before you need to use one. A fire extinguisher is no good when you don’t know how to use it.”

Cacciatolo closed the meeting reminding everyone to Òbe a nosy neighbor.” It can save someone’s life.

The next meeting of the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch is slated for Monday, March 16 at TCF Bank, 6107 S. Archer Ave., Chicago. No meeting will be held in February.

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