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Safety Source

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Pets on leashes

A dog accidentally started a fire this week while stealing a pancake from on top of a stove in a Southwick, Massachusetts, home.

According to Fox 59, one of the family’s dogs hit the ignition while helping itself to the leftovers. Within minutes, the items on the stove ignited and the home’s fire alarm sounded.


The family had a security system that alerted the fire department, which responded and put out the flames.

Pets and wild animals have a part in starting about 700 home fires per year. Roughly three quarters were started by cooking equipment, fireplaces or chimneys, lighting, or candles. NFPA’s Pet Fire Safety tip sheet provides guidance for fire safety with household animals.

Photo of laptop motorized toy fitness tracker and other objects that use lithiumion batteries

Some major airlines no longer accept ‘smart’ luggage with non-removable lithium ion batteries as checked or carry-on luggage. The powerful batteries can potentially overheat and pose a fire hazard during flight. In some instances, smart bags with removable batteries will be allowed on board if the battery can be removed on site and taken on board with the customer. Check with your airline for restrictions.

NFPA’s Lithium Ion Battery Safety tip sheet includes precautions on ‘smart luggage.’

Glacier motif explaining the message revision process

The comment period will soon close for submitting suggested revisions to the NFPA Educational Messages Desk Reference. The deadline is Friday, February 9, 2018. The comment form is for the purposes of providing substantiated comments on the current message document.

The messages contained in the Desk Reference are used throughout NFPA’s educational programs, curricula, and handouts and provide fire and life safety educators with accurate and consistent language for use when providing safety information to the public.

The Educational Messages Advisory Committee, a group of fire and life safety experts, will meeting in March to review submissions and update and revise the messages. Following the meeting, updated messaging will be incorporated into NFPA materials.

Cartoon Image of Hot Spots for Fire from American Burn Association

Burn Awareness Week 2018 is being observed February 4-10, the first full week of February. An initiative of the American Burn Association (ABA), it is an opportunity for organizations to mobilize burn, fire and life safety educators to unite in sharing a common burn awareness and prevention message throughout communities. It is also an excellent way to kick off Adult gesturing to a child not to touch matches followed by safety tipsa year full of burn awareness education. According to the ABA, annually in the U.S. approximately 486,000 people receive medical care for the treatment of burns. In 2016 alone, there were 3,280 deaths from fire and smoke inhalation and another 40,000 people were treated in hospitals for burn related injuries. NFPA provides a number of resources on the burn awareness page of the website to help keep kids, adults, and communities safe and aware of potentially harmful situations. The safety tip sheet on children and fires provides a list of steps to keep the family safe. The page also includes videos, resources for kids, a tip sheet, as well as community outreach ideas for the fire service and public educators.

Tom Hufford- Firefighter and Safe Kids Member from Oklahoma- Stop Gas Fires

I have always been a connoisseur of food growing up in a family of cooks who owned a local diner.  At home we would always have a hamburger as a weekend treat fresh off the grill. This week a new commercial started circulating that talks about the difference in flat top burgers and flame grilled but it says they are blowing up the competition.  Working and volunteering with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors for the last 16 years has given me a new perspective on why burns can be so devastating.  I have met many survivors that decided to add gasoline to a burn pile or had a gas can too close when they start a fire.  The results have been fatal sometimes but many more people have a lifetime of surgeries and skin grafts from the explosive nature of gasoline.  In spite of the fact we gas up our cars a couple times a week, and there are warning signs at the gas pumps, many people don't realize the dangers of gasoline.  This fast food commercial dramatizes a gasoline explosion which in too many cases ends badly. To keep your family safe anytime you are using gasoline, follow these safety tips;

  • Keep gasoline out of children's sight and reach. Children should never handle gasoline.
  • If fire does start while handling gasoline, do not attempt to extinguish the fire or stop the flow of gasoline. Leave the area immediately, and call for help.
  • Do not use or store gasoline near possible ignition sources (i.e., electrical devices, oil- or gas-fired appliances, or any other device that contains a pilot flame or a spark).
  • Store gasoline outside the home (i.e., in a garage or lawn shed) in a tightly closed metal or plastic container approved by an independent testing laboratory or the local or state fire authorities. Never store gasoline in glass containers or non-reusable plastic containers (i.e., milk jugs).
  • Store only enough gasoline necessary to power equipment and let machinery cool before refueling it.
  • Never use gasoline inside the home or as a cleaning agent.
  • Clean up spills promptly and discard clean-up materials properly.
  • Do not smoke when handling gasoline.
  • Never use gasoline in place of kerosene.
  • Use caution when fueling automobiles. Do not get in and out of the automobile when fueling. Although rare, an electrical charge on your body could spark a fire, especially during the dry winter months.
  • Only fill portable gasoline containers outdoors. Place the container on the ground before filling and never fill containers inside a vehicle or in the bed of a pick-up truck.
  • Follow all manufacturers instructions when using electronic devices (those with batteries or connected to an electrical outlet) near gasoline.

For more safety tips and information visit or

Food on the stove

There’s a good chance that this Sunday’s square-off between the Philadelphia Eagles and the reigning NFL champs, the New England Patriots, will be the most-watched Super Bowl of all time. Last year 113.7 million people watched in combined television and online viewing. Since then, more streaming options have become available. Lots of people viewing the extravaganza means lots of cooking and food preparation in the kitchen. Be sure to put fire safety in your line up.

Kitchen Huddle

Prepare your cooking area. Keep anything that can catch fire–oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains–away from the stovetop. Have a kid-free zone of at least three feet (1 metre) around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

Penalty Flag

The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. Stay in the kitchen if you are frying, boiling, broiling, or grilling food. If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly. Use a timer to remind you that you are cooking. Many smart phones come with a timer.


Stay awake. Be on alert while cooking. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop. If you have a small grease fire and decide to fight a fire on the stovetop, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning the burner off. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.


Share these and other NFPA cooking safety tips with your family and friends.

Graphs and charts and statistics about candle firesImage of a lit candle followed by bullet points on safe use of candlesBurning candles in an apartment building bedroom in Princeton, New Jersey, was likely the cause of a recent fire that killed one person and displaced more than 30 people. According to news reports, Princeton Police Chief Nicholas K. Sutter stated, “Though the cause will be officially labeled ‘undetermined,’ we feel that more than likely candles burning in the bedroom were the cause.” A 73-year-old tenant died in the blaze. Meanwhile, 17 households that could not find other accommodations were sent to an extended-stay hotel that Princeton Community Housing is providing for them. The apartment building will be reconstructed, a process that could take 10 months. According to NFPA’s new Candle Fire Fact Sheet, three of every five (59%) candle fires start when something that could burn, such as furniture, mattresses or bedding, curtains, or decorations, was too close to the candle. In 16% of the fires the candles were unattended or abandoned. Sleep was a factor in 11% of the fires and 21% of the candle fire deaths. The fact sheet has additional statistics. The Candle Safety tip sheet provides a list of precautions.

Image of the worldIn case you missed the live webinar “Every Second Counts for Everyone” late last year, you now have another opportunity to view it. Those who have not already done so will need to create a free NFPA Xchange account to access the recording. The webinar is designed to help educate families that have children who are deaf or hard of hearing so that they can create effective safety practices in the home. The presenters are NFPA Regional Education Specialist Meredith Hawes, NFPA Public Education Committee Virginia Representative J.D. Jenkins, and Communications and Marketing Coordinator for Virginia Hands and Voices, Valerie Abbott.

A photo of the cast of This Is Us

SPOILER ALERT: If you are a fan of the TV series This Is Us and are behind on episodes, you may want to stop reading now!

Every week millions of viewers tune into This Is Us, an award-winning dramatic series on NBC. The series follows the lives of siblings Kate, Kevin, and Randall born in 1980. Their parents are Jack and Rebecca. Episodes weave through the past and present (2016-2018) of the characters’ lives.

Early on we learn that in the present, Jack is dead but we don’t know how he died. His wife and children grieve for him in different ways. Eventually we learn that Jack died in a house fire. Viewers (including me) have tuned in for weeks hoping to get more details. Finally, it seems that during last week’s episode a few more hints were provided. Rebecca announced that the family needed to get batteries while at the shopping mall. At the end of the episode, after they returned home, she was trying to remember what she forgot to get while there. The camera then zooms into the smoke alarm mounted on the ceiling with the batteries missing.

To say that social media is “freaking out” over this “reveal” would be an understatement. Discussion boards are filled with comments from viewers calling the upcoming episode, in anticipation of the critical question being answered, “The one we’ve all been waiting for.” Who knows if the writers plan to answer the question anytime soon of why Jack died in the house fire or whether the missing batteries had anything to do with his death. Regardless, this storyline on This Is Us sends a powerful message. It has a whole lot of people thinking about the importance of installing and maintaining working smoke alarms in the home.

Image of Bronze Sparky StatueOnly weeks remain to apply for the Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award. The deadline is Friday, February 9th. 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 2017 from a fire department association, community organization, or government entity will be considered.

The Educator of the Year receives a $1,000 honorarium and travel to NFPA Conference in Las Vegas in June for an award presentation, and a bronze Sparky the Fire Dog statuette.

The local fire department receives a $1,000 donation to support public education activities.

Sparky gestures as children and adults walk up to the fire safety exhibit

The Pennsylvania Farm Show is an agricultural exposition in which the state showcases its agricultural industry and the people who make it thrive. This year featured livestock demonstrations, competitions, food–and as it has many times in the past–fire safety materials.

“We had our booth there to promote fire safety,” said Public Education Specialist Kraig Herman of the Office of the State Fire Commissioner. “I stuffed [goody] bags for children, adults and older adults.”

Herman says farm show attendees received NFPA fire safety tip sheets, the home escape planning grid, fire and fall prevention information for older adults from the Remembering When program and many other items.

Sparky the Fire Dog drew many participants to the exhibit table. Herman says, 1,800 bags were distributed to 700 children, 500 adults, and 600 older adults. “In all, I deem it a success,” he said. “We handed out more material this year than last year.”

A recent fire in Gallatin, Tennessee, could have ended in tragedy, but for fire safety equipment, the quick thinking of the dad, and fire safety behaviors.

People leaving a house during a fire drillAccording to the Tennessean, the Gallatin Fire Department stated that the family lived in a rental house and was under the impression that a wall heater in one of the children’s bedrooms did not work. The heater kicked on in the middle of the night, starting a fire. The smoke alarms in the home woke up the father, who in response, got his family out of the home. He then shut the bedroom door to the child’s room where the fire started. NFPA’s safety messaging, including the heating safety tip sheet and the Educational Messages Desk Reference reminds us to keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from the heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable heater and to have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional. In addition, the Desk Reference and Escape Planning tip sheet state that a closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.

“My professional opinion is that the working smoke [alarms] saved this family’s lives, and the father’s quick thinking on shutting the door saved the family’s home,” said Gallatin Fire Department Deputy Fire Marshal Elizabeth Bednarcik. “Too often we read about the tragic fires and not the successful stories.”

Graphic of a house in the snow with NFPA and USFA logos. Snowy scene and illustration of a thermometer

According to the National Weather Service, a major winter storm will impact the east coast today and tomorrow. A powerful nor'easter is expected to bring snow, ice, rain, very strong winds, and rough surf to coastal locations of the Southeast U.S., Middle Atlantic, Northeast, and into New England. Bitter cold temperatures and dangerously cold wind chills are forecast. Fire and health safety officials are warning residents to take precautions when heating their homes to reduce their risk of winter fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, and electrical fires and other hazards.

Carbon Monoxide: Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels do not burn completely. Incidents are more common during the winter months, and in residential properties.

Winter storms: Home fires occur more in the winter than in any other season, and heating equipment is involved in one of every six reported home fires.

Generators: Portable generators are useful during power outages, but many homeowners are unaware that improper use can be risky. The most common danger is CO poisoning.

Candles: December is the peak time of the year for candle fires. Each year between 2009 and 2013, an average of 25 home candle fires were reported each day.

Electrical: Electrical home fires are a leading cause of home fires in the U.S.

For more on these topics, see the Put a Freeze on Winter Fires campaign, sponsored by NFPA and the U.S. Fire Administration for infographics, printable giveaways, fire statistics, videos, and fact and tip sheets.


If you’re looking to weave fire safety into your holiday celebrations, consider “Sparky, Our Favorite Fire Dog”! Sung to the tune of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the song was created by Marty Ahrens, NFPA's senior manager of data and analytics. She sang the jingle earlier this week with her fellow NFPA “Fire Choir” members - a group of NFPA staff that performs holiday songs at our Quincy headquarters each year.


Here are the lyrics for your holiday singing pleasure:


Sparky, our favorite fire dog

Has a cold and wet black nose.
To keep us safe from fire
We should learn the things he knows.


Smoke alarms in the bedroom
Wake you up if there’s a fire.
Without that early warning,
Consequences could be dire.


“Have to have an escape plan.”
Sparky went on to say,
“Two ways out of every room
Can prevent a terrible doom.”


Put his words into practice.
Find a meeting place by a tree.
With Sparky, our favorite fire dog,
We make fire history!

Project Holiday Banner. Light blue banner with Christmas Ornament and snowflakes

Fire officials say a Northwest Fresno woman woke up in the early morning hours recently to find her house on fire. She was unable to call 911 and had to run to a neighbor’s house to call. According to news reports, all four people in the home were able to escape. Firefighters say the homeowner was burning a candle which sparked the blaze. The people in the home attempted to put the fire out themselves but were unable to.

Candle fires are more common during the winter holidays. They peak in December. January ranks second. The top four days four candle fires in the home are New Year’s Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and Christmas Eve. More than half of all candle fires start when things that can burn are too close to the candle. Examples include furniture, mattresses, bedding, and curtains.

Project Holiday, NFPA’s annual campaign to educate the public on potential fire risks during the holiday includes candle safety tips, along with tips on Christmas tree, holiday decorating, and cooking safety. In addition, the campaign includes timely videos, safety-related activity sheets for children, statistics, fact sheets, and reports.

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