With residents still being encouraged to stay close to home and limit contact with others, some have reportedly become hesitant to call for emergency assistance.

It’s an issue that Goochland County Fire-Rescue Chief Eddie Ferguson says is putting undue strain on residents, and could lead to already dangerous situations becoming even more critical.

In a recent video posted to the county’s YouTube channel, Ferguson joined Deputy Fire-Rescue Chief Mike Watkins and Fire Marshal Doug Davies to speak directly to the community and allay any fears about calling for help when it is needed.

“We want you to know that we are here for you, and that you can certainly call us if you have an emergency,” said Ferguson. While some may be concerned that could be putting themselves — or perhaps first responders — at risk by calling 911, Ferguson reiterated that the county’s emergency services personnel have the appropriate protective equipment and training to do their work safely and effectively.

“911 is your lifeline,” insisted Watkins, urging viewers to call for help immediately if they experience shortness of breath, chest pain, breathing issues, weakness, paralysis or trauma.

Tackling a slightly different but still critical topic, Fire Marshall Doug Davies shared a number of important safety measures related to the proper disposal of cigarettes.

“We’ve already seen several fires related to improper disposal this year, Davies said, reminding residents to make sure they dispose of cigarette butts only in appropriate containers. That means avoiding plastic flower pots, which can catch on fire and endanger homes. Mulch beds can also be very dangerous places to toss cigarette butts, Davies said, as the mulch can ignite and spread fire to nearby structures.

Davies also shared the following helpful tips related to cigarette safety:

  • Use a metal can filled two-thirds of the way with sand to dispose of butts. It should also have a tight-fitting lid with several holes drilled into it. Free tutorials on how to create a similar disposal device are available on the Internet.
  • Do not smoke in bed, and use caution while smoking if you are sleepy.
  • Make sure all cigarette butts are cold before emptying ashtrays and cans.
  • Do not smoke in areas where portable oxygen is in use.
  • Finally, do not toss cigarettes out of car windows. Not only is this considered littering — and is punishable under the law — but it can also lead to dangerous brush fires.
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