Township Shares Helpful Info over Coffee

The Lower Providence Parks and Recreation’s latest Coffee Talk topic presented Fire Prevention and Safety tips over the Holidays.

Lots of great discussions can be held over a hot 'cup of Joe,' at least that is the idea behind Lower Providence Parks and Recreation Department’s recent Morning Coffee Topic Talk series.

“It’s a brand-new program,” Karen Hegedus, Lower Providence Parks and Recreation superintendent, said.

The Morning Coffee Topic Talk series invites a business professional to share their experience and expertise, often providing vital information that would benefit adult residents, particularly those ages 50 and older.

The programs were also well attended by members of Parks and Recreation, whose presence was part of a wellness program for township employees.

In addition to the presenter, the Morning Coffee Topic Talk also provided free hot coffee, as donated by Café Excellence, as well as cookies from the Collegeville Bakery.

The fall series featured four professionals, whose topics included health and identify theft:

  • Oct. 4 – Dr. Donald Ferrari of Main LineCardiology
  • Oct. 18 – Donna Levan, Orthopedic Program Manager at Paoli Hospital
  • Nov. 9 – Identity theft with Lt. Stan Turtle of the Lower Providence Police Department

Its Nov. 15, and final program of the fall series, featured members of the Lower Providence Fire Department, speaking about fire Prevention and Safety over the Holidays.


Fire Prevention for Adults

Several members of the Lower Providence Fire Department (LPFD) were present for the Nov. 15 Morning Coffee Topic Talk, including the program’s co-presenters, Lower Providence Fire Department president Jackie Rittenhouse and township deputy fire marshal Ron Kenwood.

Their presentation was the adult version of the fire safety classes the fire department hosts for local youth throughout the year.

Using a Powerpoint slideshow, the topics they discussed ran a gamut of fire prevention and safety tips

Rittenhouse provided the first fire safety tip.

“Planning an escape route is the most important thing to do,” Rittenhouse said.

She said that children and adults should plan together safest ways out of their homes in times of fire or emergency.

She also asked, when meeting the public at LPFD outreach events, that parents not describe fully geared firefighters.

“Darth Vader is a scary thing, and kids don’t need to associate us with a scary thing,” Rittenhouse said.


Smoke Detectors

According to Kenwood, smoke detectors should be changed every 10 years, with its batteries checked twice a year (say around daylight saving time). Homeowners should also recognize that several beeps from a smoke detector often indicate that the battery is almost dead.

He said that some more advanced smoke detectors can go off simultaneously throughout the house.

Kenwood suggests placing a smoke detector on each floor of the house, as well as in every bedroom. He adds that location of the smoke detectors is worth consideration, as well:

  • Place smoke detectors away from the junction of walls and ceilings, and place them on the ceiling itself.
  • Keep them close to the door, but about a yard away from the sidewalls

There are also combinations of Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors available.


Careless Smoking

Rittenhouse said that the leading cause of fire death and second leading cause of injuries to those 65 and older are due to careless smoking.

She said that people should never smoke in bed, nor smoke while using an oxygen tank.

Furthermore, deep ashtrays are suggested, and paper bags should not be used.

“Don’t put the paper bag on the deck,” Rittenhouse said. “You’ll have a deck fire.”


Kitchen/Grease Fires

“We respond to culinary mishaps more often than most types of calls we get,” Kenwood said.

He noted that there may be a correlation between age and kitchen fires, and that most are caused by lack of attention while cooking.

“You should never leave the room when you’re cooking,” he said.

He added that microwave ovens can easily turn from 3 minutes to 30.

Kenwood also warned against using the stove as anything except for its intended purpose. He said that the stove range should not be used as a shelf.

This includes remembering to remove any glassware from the stovetop when the oven is on, as such containers are likely to crack and burst into many tiny shards.

Also the oven should be cleaned and emptied before each use, including pre-heating.

Rittenhouse added that parents should never hold their child while cooking, as accidental burnings or injuries may occur.

Rittenhouse shared a Nov. 13 release by State Farm, which stated that more cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. Also,  Pennsylvania ranks number eight on State Farm’s top 10 grease and cooking-related claims list.

Residents should take special care to prevent grease fires by keeping the stove clean. She warned that pouring water on it should not put out grease fires.

If using a lid to snuff out a grease fire, Kenwood suggests not placing the lid directly over the fire, as the fire would spill over the sides. Instead, take the lid and start at an angle at the same level as the pan.

Baking soda will also work in putting out grease fires. Using baking flour and other fine, powdery substances, on the other hand, will explode.



According to Rittenhouse, heating is the second leading cause of fire death and the third leading cause of injury to those 65 and older. Children, pets and materials that can burn should be kept at least 3-feet away from radiators, fire places, wood stoves and furnaces. Also, be sure to turn off space heaters if left unattended.


Christmas Tree Safety

Some artificial trees come flame retardant. When purchasing real trees, be sure that the needles don’t break easily, and that the base of the trunk is cut before placing it in the tree stand.

When placing the tree in the home, be sure that the tree is at least 3-feet from a heating source, and does not block an exit. Water should be added to the real tree every day.

Lights should be unplugged every day, and modern, smaller decoration lights are safer and more economic than the older and larger ones. And, if the bulbs are dimming or half of the bulbs do not light, it’s time to make a new purchase.

“Never use candles to light a tree,” Rittenhouse said.

After the holidays, real trees should be placed outside, as drying trees can become a fire hazard.


Driers, Generators and Power Outages

Kenwood reminded event participants to continually clean out lint traps in laundry driers. Plastic vents should be replaced by metal ones.

Also, in light of the recent power outages, Kenwood said that portable generators should be kept at least 20-25 feet away from the house. Generators placed close to the house are likely to increase the Carbon monoxide levels inside the house. Homes should have Carbon monoxide detectors, as well as smoke detectors.

He said that generators should not be fueled while the generator is operational, as that would be a fire risk.

During power outages, homeowners should pull the main circuit breaker, so as not to be surprised when the power comes back and certain appliances turn on.

In order to demonstrate this last point, Kenwood held up a burnt and destroyed iron, which was forgotten on top of a stove range when the power returned.


Coffee Talk: The next Series

The Lower Providence Coffee Talk series is expected to resume in March. According to Hegedus, featured presenters will include Phoenix Rehab, Main Line HealthCare and the Metropolitan Veterinary Association.

Hegedus said that the township is also looking for more local business professionals who may be interested in presenting at a Coffee Talk, particularly financial professionals.

For more information, visit the Lower Providence Township website or call 610-635-3543 or e-mail parks@lowerprovidence.org.


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