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Front page of lesson planMassachusetts high school students are imitating a dangerous viral video circulating on the social media app Tik Tok that has firefighters issuing an alert. According to news reports it’s called “the outlet challenge” and involves partially inserting the plug of a cellphone charger into an outlet, and then sliding a penny down the wall onto the exposed prongs. The results include sparks and damage to the electrical system. In some cases, fires, injuries, and even electrocution could result. Massachusetts fire officials, the police, and school officials are working together to investigate the incidents.

First page of lesson planNFPA urges the public not to participate in the #outletchallenge and to review educational information on using electrical outlets, and electricity in general, safely.

In addition to the extensive electrical safety materials offered in the Electrical Community Toolkit, NFPA provides a 60-minute lesson plan, The Fire Challenge, A Conversation with Parents and Caretakers, to help open a dialogue to discourage risky behavior, and the lesson plan, Making Safe & Responsible Choices, specifically for young adolescents. Both lesson plans can be valuable resources for fire departments, parents and caregivers.

The NFPA Educational Messages Desk Reference is up for revision. Download our commenCover of Desk Referencet form and submit your suggestions by February 28.

The document details the messages used in NFPA educational programs, curricula, and handouts and provides the fire service and fire and life safety educators with consistent language to use with the public.

Sparky bronze-plated statue

NFPA is looking for fire and life safety educators in the United States and Canada who have these qualifications:

Work for a local fire department or fire marshal’s office.

Use NFPA educational programs and materials in a consistent and creative way.

Demonstrate excellence and innovation, reaching out to the community with NFPA materials.

Applicants can be nominated or self-nominated. Recipients of a state or provincial educator award during 2019 from a fire department association, community organization, or government entity will be considered.

The deadline is March 6, 2020 to be considered for this prestigious award that includes a monetary prize, travel, and registration to attend NFPA Conference & Expo for an awards ceremony, where the recipient will receive the Sparky statuette.

Illustration of a fireplace

There’s nothing better than that cozy feeling that our heaters provide us with when the weather is cold and harsh. As we chase away the chill in our homes with our heating systems, let’s not forget the risks involved. Heating equipment is a leading cause of fires in U.S. homes. These homes include one- and two-family homes and apartments. Nearly half of all home heating fires occur in December, January, and February. Space heaters, including wood stoves, account for the overwhelming majority of fatal and non-fatal injuries in home heating fires.

Here are some tips for keeping safe.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet (one-metre) away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable heater.
  • Have a three foot (one-metre) “Kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

You can find more tips and resources in the heating section of the NFPA website.

An unfortunate incident that could have become a tragedy involving the “Scary Movie” actress Anna Faris underscores the importance of having working carbon monoxide alarms. She and her family had a close call on Thanksgiving Day. According to news reports, they were in a Lake Tahoe rental home when two family members became sick. What they thought was altitude sickness turned about to be carbon monoxide poisoning.

Multiple fire departments in the Lake Tahoe area responded. Nine people were checked out and treated at the house. Two additional people were taken to the hospital. It’s unclear whether Faris was among the hospitalized.

Faris took to twitter to express thanks.

"I'm not quite sure how to express gratitude to the north Lake Tahoe fire department-we were saved from carbon monoxide-it's a stupidly dramatic story but I'm feeling very fortunate," Faris wrote.

Authorities say the rental did not have carbon monoxide alarms. Carbon monoxide is a gas you cannot see, taste, or smell. Often called “the invisible killer,” it is created when fossil fuels don’t burn completely. It can kill people and pets.

It is important for private homes, as well as short-term rentals, to have working carbon monoxide alarms outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations required by laws, codes, or standards. Short-term rentals may not be strongly regulated. Consumers are advised to advocate for themselves.

NFPA’s Safety Away from Home and Take Safety With You infographics provide information relating to carbon monoxide safety for both the renter and the consumer renting the property.

Headshot of Tammy PeavyThe NFPA Public Education Network is made up of fire and life safety education representatives for every state and province who disseminate NFPA information to fire safety educators throughout their state or province. Periodically, NFPA will be highlighting success stories from network members. In this post we feature Fire Safety Educator, Tammy Peavy, of the Mississippi State Fire Marshal’s Office. Over the years, Tammy has written successful Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Fire Prevention and Safety grants that allowed for the purchase and distribution to fire departments and community organizations of more than 120,000 long-life smoke alarms and 4,100 alert devices for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Tammy is also the chair of the NFPA Education Member Section.

 

Mississippi has long had one of the highest fire death rates in the nation. Peavy says the state’s smoke alarm installation program has been highly effective in tackling the home fire problem.

“We saw a great decrease in our fire fatalities once it was up and running,” she said. She added that partnerships play a critical role in the success of the program. These include collaborations with state agencies and community organizations.

“We partner with people already going into the homes with other programs, for instance, our department of health goes in for lead poisoning prevention and there’s the weatherization program. They do installations and activations while they’re there.”

Peavy says training each fire department/organization individually is most effective, providing incentives for installers, such as a fuel stipend or tools, and allowing the installer organization or agency to make the program their own. Her office provides guidelines for installation and proper documentation, but allows them to publicize as they feel best suited their department.

NFPA’s smoke alarm installation guide can help you plan and implement a successful smoke alarm installation program.

 

 

Two-images. One of reporter in turnout gear speaking and the other of a firefighter fighting the fire

A national morning television show is highlighting the importance of fire safety during the holiday season. Days before Thanksgiving, the peak day of the year for home cooking fires, Good Morning America featured a live fire safety demonstration at the Delaware County Emergency Training Center conducted by Underwriters Laboratories. The furnished house used in the demonstration was filled with synthetic furniture. On cue, a living room couch was lit. The reporter gave a narration of the conditions in the house once the fire began to grow and the measures that needed to be taken to escape safely. The demonstration reinforced a number of key fire safety messages:

Working smoke alarms are essential: You may only have minutes to escape once the smoke alarm sounds. Smoke alarms should be installed inside and outside of each sleeping room and on every level of the home.

Plan ahead for your escape: Draw a map of each level of the home showing all doors and windows. Practice the plan at least twice a year, day and night and with overnight guests.

Get low and go: In a real emergency, get low and go under the smoke quickly to your outside meeting place.

Know your emergency number: Make sure everyone in the home knows how to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number from a cell phone outdoors at the safe meeting place or from a trusted neighbor’s phone.

Protect yourself from carbon monoxide: Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless and colorless gas created when fuels burn incompletely. Install CO alarms in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations when required by applicable laws, codes, or standards.

Closing the door: A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.

As communities prepare for Thanksgiving and other days of note in the coming months, NFPA’s holiday safety materials, and safety tips sheets on more than 60 topics will be useful in helping to curb fire-related mishaps.

Thanksgiving spread of food

More than three times as many home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day than on a typical day of the year, according to the latest U.S. Home Cooking Fires Report recently released by NFPA. The report shows that there were 1,600 reported fires on Thanksgiving in 2017, reflecting a 238 percent increase over the daily average. Unattended cooking was the leading cause of these fires.

NFPA offers a number of tips and recommendations for cooking safely this Thanksgiving:

•Never leave the kitchen while cooking on the stovetop. Some types of cooking, especially those that involve frying or sautéing with oil, need continuous attention.

•When cooking a turkey, stay in your home and check on it regularly.

•Make use of timers to keep track of cooking times, particularly for foods that require longer cook times.

•Keep things that can catch fire like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food wrappers, and towels at least three feet away from the cooking area.

•Avoid long sleeves and hanging fabrics that could come in contact with a heat source.

•Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water or use a fire extinguisher on the fire.

•For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. Only open the door once you’re confident the fire is completely out, standing to the side as you do. If you have any doubts or concerns, contact the fire department for assistance.

•Keep children at least three feet away from the stove. Kids should also stay away from hot foods and liquids, as steam or splash from these items could cause severe burns.

The Thanksgiving section of the NFPA website offers these and other tips for keeping fire safety top of mind during the holiday.

The staff, instructors and aides of the Delaware State Fire School (DSFS) had a busy schedule during Fire Prevention Week season. Beginning in early September through early November it is estimated that DSFS operated 115 programs in fire safety, school tours, injury prevention, and displays. Programs took place across the state. Program administrators Mike Lowe and Kim O’Malley sincerely thank the instructors and aides as well as the fire safety officials of the individual fire departments and organizations that made Fire Prevention Week 2019 a success.

Entrance to theme park

This past week, one of my best girlfriends and I flew to Florida and spent an evening at Universal Studios Orlando Resort at Halloween Horror Nights. The Halloween-themed extravaganza included haunted houses, scare zones, and live entertainment featuring many Universal Studios characters. As Joyce and I strolled through the park, zombies, the walking dead, nurses covered in blood, and creatures wielding chain saws leaped out at us through the fog. It was fabulous.

Wanting more frights, we entered a haunted house–actually, a sound stage converted into the setting of the spine-tingling 2019 Jordan Peele horror movie, Us–in which a family arrives at their summer home and is attacked by a group of menacing doppelgangers. Once we and dozens of others entered the sound stage’s darkened labyrinth, objects and people jumped out at us and sound effect screams and growls gave our eardrums a workout.

I wasn’t too frightened, but more concerned about safety. I wondered what would happen if somebody tripped over the “dead bodies” if they got too close to them or lost their balance because they were startled by the creatures. If someone panicked, could there be a stampede?

I breathed easier when I thought back to the attendant outside of the attraction who used a counter device to click off how many of us were allowed to go in at a time. And once in the house I was relieved that at every corner, in every room, there was a theme park employee pointing us in the right direction and monitoring the activity in case problems arose.

Many of us will experience Halloween this evening, either in costume, or giving treats. Let’s not forget about potential tripping hazards as outlined in our Be Safe Halloween tip sheet.

      
  • Remember to keep exits clear of decorations so nothing blocks escape routes.
  •   
  • Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costumes.
  •   
  • If children wear masks, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can see out.

If you participate in this spook-tacular observance, have a happy Halloween that is frightful, fun and free of tripping hazards.

 

Every year Halloween brings out excited children dressed in costumes running door to door to trick-or-treat as well as adults who dress up and head out to parties or make their own rounds through the neighborhood to acquire a sack full of candy. Homes inside and out are adorned with festive decorations, glowing jack-o-lanterns, and paper ghosts. Dried cornstalks bedeck front porches and walkways.

Unfortunately, these Halloween traditions can also present fire risks that have the potential to become dangerous. But by planning ahead, you can help make this Halloween a safe one. The Halloween Safety page on the NFPA website is the gateway to a library of simple precautions, safety tips, videos, and educational materials for trick-or-treaters of all ages.

The Halloween Safety tip sheet includes fire safety precautions, such as making sure fabrics for costumes and decorative materials are flame-resistant.

The Candle Safety tip sheet includes the precaution to consider using flameless candles, which look and smell like real candles.

The Halloween Safety Tips for Children video offers a number of tips for preventing fires.

All of these tools can help to keep the holiday both safe and fun.

Millions of people across the world are renting or hosting peer-to-peer hospitality services, such as Airbnb and Vacation Rentals by Owner. According to property management experts, on any given night, two million people are staying in Airbnb rentals somewhere in the world. Safety requirements vary across jurisdictions and not all facilities are regulated. Two new infographics that NFPA created in partnership with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Neighborhood Safety Network give tips for landlords and renters designed to create a safer rental.

 

NFPA teamed up with Domino’s yesterday to kick off our joint Fire Prevention Week program in coordination with the Flint Fire Department. Sixty-five first graders from a local elementary school in Flint, Michigan were invited to the station, where they learned about key home escape planning and practice messages highlighted in this year’s campaign, "Not every hero wears a cape. Plan and practice your escape.”  The students were also treated to a visit from Sparky the Fire Dog and a pizza party.

 

A huge thanks to the Flint Fire Department for all their help and enthusiasm in support of this year’s program – as always, they did an amazing job helping make the event a true success. Also, thank you to all the local Domino's and fire departments nationwide teaming up to bring the program to life in their communities. Participation continues to grow each year, which reflects its fun, engaging approach to educating people about basic but critical home fire safety messages.

 

Here's how Domino's Fire Prevention Week program works: Customers who place an order from participating Domino's stores during Fire Prevention Week, October 6-12, are randomly selected to receive their delivery from the local fire department, who will conduct a smoke alarm check in the customer's home. If the smoke alarms in the home are working, the delivery is free. If they're not working, the firefighters will replace the batteries or install fully-functioning

alarms.

 

The NFPA Public Education Network is made up of fire and life safety education representatives for every state and province who disseminate NFPA information to fire safety educators throughout their state or province. 

Periodically, NFPA will be highlighting success stories from network members. In this post we feature Fire Prevention Coordinator Stephanie Stafford, Oregon State Police/ Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Stephanie Stafford, Oregon - Member of the NFPA Public Education Network

When asked to identify a success in her state in terms of fire and life safety, Stephanie Stafford cites the smoke alarm/carbon monoxide (CO) alarm program, which provides training to real estate agents and property managers on the law.

“When a home is sold in Oregon it has to have adequate protection. We’re educating real estate agents so that when they’re working with clients they make sure that they have the proper smoke alarms and CO alarms installed in their homes.”

She also said that she and her colleagues work with landlords to make sure they are providing adequate smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in rental properties as required by law.

Different strategies are used to reach the audience. “We train real estate associations, so it’s a group of realtors in the local county or jurisdiction, or we’ll train a real estate agency and all of their staff.”

Another approach is regional trainings. These are scheduled throughout the state and then marketed to all of the agencies in that area.

Stafford considers the program a “win-win.” “It helps real estate agents earn continuing education units and it ensures that we have more homes with adequate protection.”

 

 

Church Steeple

Places of worship are known for their open-door policy, welcoming all. They are also known for their rituals that often involve candles, and celebrations and socials that include food preparation. National Church Safety Month is a time for heightening awareness on preventing fires and injuries and reviewing ways to be secure in the worship setting.

Cooking Safety

  • Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking or have someone else monitor what’s cooking if you have to step away.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire–oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains–away from the stovetop.
  • If you have a small grease fire and decide to fight the fire, smother the flames by sliding a lid on the pan and turning off the burner. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  • If you have any doubts about fighting a small fire, just get out and have everyone else in the building evacuate. Call 9-1-1 from outdoors.

Candles Safety

  • Candles should be placed in a sturdy candle holder.
  • Handheld candles should not be passed from one person to another at any time.
  • Lit candles should not be placed in windows where a blind or curtain could catch fire.
  • If a candle must burn continuously, enclose it in a glass container and place it in a sink, or on a metal tray, or in a deep basin filled with water.
  • Places of worship should be equipped with a fire detection and sprinkler system.

Safety in Public Assembly

Before you enter the building

  • Take a good look at it. Does it appear to be in a condition that makes you feel comfortable.
  • Have a communication plan, identifying a relative or friend to contact in case of emergency or if you become separated.
  • Pick a meeting place outside to meet family or friends in an emergency.

When you enter the building

  • Locate the exits.
  • Check for clear exit paths. Make sure aisles are wide enough and not blocked by chairs or other furnishings
  • React immediately if the fire alarm system sounds or you notice some other unusual disturbance, immediately exit the building in orderly fashion.

For more precautions for places of worship check out NFPA’s Safety in Places of Public Assembly, Religious Safety, and Cooking Safety tip sheets.

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