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Meredith Tornado Photo

Photos like the one above are being posted by the dozens on social media in the wake of a powerful storm that battered the Northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan recently. Ninety-mile-per-hour winds, heavy rain, hail, and tornado conditions uprooted hundreds of trees, and left about 15,000 homes without power. As the sky glowed yellow, my family retreated to our basement for safety. It was the first time ever. 

In the hours after the storm, people began to venture outside to assess the damage.  One friend admitted to taking a walk, reveling in the excitement.  In our alley, a massive tree had been pulled from the ground and lay precariously across electrical wires by a neighbor’s home.  Reports the next day cited hundreds of power lines down and a warning was released on social media from our local central dispatch:  We really need people to stop walking around them, driving over them, approaching them, thinking about touching them, and thinking about driving over them....they are dangerous and should be treated as such

As a Regional Education Specialist for the NFPA, it was a reminder that electrical safety goes beyond the proper use of extension cords and outdoor lighting.  The Outdoor Electrical Safety Tip Sheet has some valuable advice.

  • Have a professional tree cutting service trim branches that might fall on electric wiring.
  • Use a wooden or fiberglass ladder outside.
  • Keep the ladder at least 10 feet away from power lines.
  • Never touch anyone or anything in contact with a downed wire. Power lines may be live; stay a safe distance away.
  • Report downed wires to authorities right away. 

In addition, NFPA’s community toolkit, Get Ready! Preparing Your Community for a Disaster, is a comprehensive guide the fire service and other first responders can use to reach the public.  It includes a series of fact sheets on what to do in tornado conditions and when other disasters strike. 

Meredith Neighbor Tornado Photo


Sparky the Fire Dog ® is all sketched out about Fire Prevention Week 2015. Thanks to the United States Air Force Civil Engineer Center, Fire and Emergency Services, NFPA has a new Fire Prevention Week short video to spread the word on the importance of working smoke alarms in the home. Sparky teaches the basic fire safety messages to support the Fire Prevention Week campaign: Hear the Beep Where You Sleep. Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm.

Police in Altoona, Pennsylvania, say dogs trying to get at a box of cupcakes left on top of a stove apparently started a small fire in a home there earlier this week.

According to news reports, the landlord told police that he stopped by his tenant’s home to let out Cookingsafelythe dogs.That's when the landlord saw a small stovetop fire and called firefighters.

Police say it appears the dogs were trying to get into the cupcakes and not only knocked off the stove's control knobs, but turned on the stove, causing the fire.

The fire has been ruled accidental. Nobody was injured.

NFPA’s Cooking Safety tips sheet stresses the importance of keeping anything that can catch fire away from the stovetop. The tips sheet and community toolkit on cooking safety for the fire service include additional tips on fire safety in the kitchen.

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