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While the mild weather in some parts of the country may be lulling all of us into thinking winter is taking a vacation this year, don’t let Mother Nature fool you! February is right around the corner and unless there’s some kind of magic in the air, winter will be on our doorstep soon enough. So now is the perfect time to begin preparing for the inevitable winter freeze and NFPA has just the resource you need.

What would that be, you ask? It’s our “10 Tips to Get Ahead of the Winter Freeze” checklist, which makes it easy to put your plan in place, and includes steps you can take to ensure the heating equipment and related appliances in your home are in top-top shape and fire safe. Things such as furnaces, chimneys and vents, space heaters and more are all addressed.

Take a moment and download the checklist, then put your plan in place on how you’ll tackle heating fire safety today. For additional information on fire safety in the winter months, check out our "Put a Freeze on Winter Fires" campaign page.

Barn and silo

NFPA is hosting a fire and life safety symposium on May 12th and 13th, 2017, to bring together representatives from rural fire departments across North America. The symposium will help NFPA assess fire and life safety education needs and gain a clear picture of rural fire department challenges related to prevention.

Participants will help us better serve rural and volunteer fire departments in their public education, prevention, and Community Risk Reduction efforts.

If you are interested in attending the symposium, complete our survey.

Safety Source newsletterThe January issue Safety Source, NFPA's public education newsletter, is now available for viewing. In this issue, you will find:

  • We’ve read the headlines and heard the disturbing stories about smartphones bursting into flames. Why is this happening? Our new lithium ion battery safety tip sheet explains and offers suggestions for avoiding the problems.
  • Winter storms can last for days and leave you with both cabin fever and unsafe conditions. Get some timely “management tips” in our new tip sheet.
  • Do you live in an apartment building? Know someone who does? Learn about the important fire safety equipment particular to apartment buildings.

Don't miss an issue! Sign up now and be the first to get the latest information on happenings in the public education division; activities, fire statistics, trends, educational tips, Sparky the Fire Dog and more!

Nearly two months after a ten-alarm fire caused extensive damage in a Cambridge, Massachusetts, neighborhood, fire investigators have determined the cause. According to the Boston Patch, fire officials say construction subcontractors working onsite the day of the fire discarded smoking materials, causing the blaze. Authorities would not say if criminal charges would be leveled.

Image of cigarette being lit and bulleted safety tipsThe blaze started in an empty home under construction, quickly escalating to 10 alarms and sweeping through the neighborhood. More than 100 residents had to flee and 18 buildings were damaged.

Fire officials concluded that smoking materials were left around nearby recycling bins full of construction debris from ongoing rehabilitation work. From 2007 to 2011 abandoned or discarded smoking material caused an average of 11,750 fires in the U.S., 320 deaths and 647 injuries. Careful disposal of smoking materials is important indoors and outdoors. Smoking materials should not be discarded in vegetation, potted plants or landscaping, peat moss, dried grasses, mulch, leaves, or similar items. Before throwing out butts or ashes, make sure they are out. They should be put out in sand or water. NFPA’s webpage on smoking safety, and the Smoking and Home Fire Safety tip sheet provide additional precautions.

An Indiana family is recovering after suffering carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in their home over the weekend. According to WWMT-TV, police say a man was using a gas saw in the basement of a home Sunday when he started to have chest pains and called 9-1-1. When rescuers arrived, they found CO levels eight times what is considered safe. They say the family’s CO alarm was going off, but no one was paying attention to it. Two adults and four children under the age of ten were all rushed to the hospital. They’re expected to recover.


Photo of a carbon monoxide alarm on a wallCO is a gas you cannot see, taste, or smell. It is often called “The invisible killer” and is created when fossil fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, coal, natural gas, propane, methane, or wood do not burn completely. Here are some CO precautions:

  • Install CO alarms outside each separate sleeping area, on every level of the home, and in other locations as required by laws, codes, or standards.
  • Vent the exhaust from fuel-burning equipment to the outside to avoid CO poisoning. Keep venting clear and unblocked.
  • If your CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors.
  • Call 9-1-1 from the fresh air location.

NFPA’s Educational Messages Document, Carbon Monoxide Safety tip sheet, and CO community toolkit provide resources for educating the public about the dangers of CO.

portable fireplaces, winter heating safety


According to the 2017 Farmers’ Almanac, exceptionally cold, if not “downright frigid weather,” will predominate over parts of the Northern Plains, Great Lakes, Midwest, Ohio Valley, the Middle Atlantic, Northeast and New England this winter. It also predicts that shots of very cold weather will “periodically reach as far south as Florida and the Gulf Coast!” As news headlines have demonstrated these past few weeks, it appears these winter storm predictions may just be coming true!

To this end, this winter, says Farmers’ Almanac editor, Pete Geiger, will prompt you to “make sure your heat works, your long johns are washed and your slippers are nearby.” This is also the time when many people will make a beeline to their portable fireplaces for added warmth in their homes. If you’re one of the many who own a portable fireplace, you’ll want to practice a handful of safety tips to reduce your risk for a home fire. To start:

• Place the fireplace on a sturdy surface away from table edges
• Never try to move a lit fireplace or one that is still hot
• Allow the device to cool down for at least 15 minutes before refueling
• Extinguish the flame when you leave the room or your home, and when you go to sleep

If the Almanac stays true to its predictions, much of the country is in for a long, cold winter season. Take precautions now to ensure your safety and the safety of your family. Consider all of our tips related to portable fireplaces and download our free tips sheet that you can post on your fridge for easy access and a reminder.

Additional tips on heating fire safety can be found on NFPA’s Put a Freeze on Winter Fires webpage.

Remembering When logoNFPA will select teams from 12 communities to attend the 2017 Remembering When™ Next Steps workshop held from August 8-9, 2017. This free training is designed to help teams expand their Remembering When programs. Applicants should have an active Remembering When team and interest in developing a more impactful program. Each two- to three-person team will include at least one member who has participated in local or national Remembering When training in the past. Each team must include at least one fire department representative.


Remembering When™: A Fire and Fall Prevention Program for Older Adults, was developed by NFPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help older adults live safely at home for as long as possible.

The application for the Next Steps workshop will be available in the spring.

Image of hoverboard and bulleted list of safety tips

A family in Washington, D.C. has to find a new home after a devastating fire Friday that started with a hoverboard given to the son as a Christmas gift. According to NBC4, the fire happened while the family was out running errands. They had left the self-balancing scooter plugged in and charging. When they returned, they found it on fire.

The mother and two sons are getting help with housing from the Salvation Army. They lost everything but the clothing they were wearing.

NFPA’s Hoverboard Safety tip sheet includes these precautions:

  • Do not leave a hoverboard unattended.
  • Stop using your hoverboard if it overheats.
  • Never leave the hoverboard plugged in overnight.

Some hoverboard fires have involved the lithium-ion battery or charger. The tip sheet also includes a list of signs to look for indicating that there is a problem and what to do if you notice any of these signs.

portable generator safety tips during the winter months

Our first big snowfall of the season hit the east last weekend and with January well underway, we know this storm is not going to be the last! There’s a lot to do to prepare for the cold weather and all that Mother Nature will throw at us, especially when we know that with these severe storms comes possible power outages.

Are you one of the thousands who plan to use a portable generator during a storm when the electricity goes out? If you are, you should know that using a generator improperly can be dangerous. The most common hazards include carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, electrical shock or electrocution and fire hazards.

But don’t let the risks keep you from using a portable generator; you just have to know how to operate them safely. Consider the following action steps that you can put into place now before the next storm hits:

• Operate generators in well-ventilated locations outdoors away from all doors, windows and vent openings
• Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open
• Place generators so that exhaust fumes can’t enter the home through windows, doors or other openings in the building

Find additional action steps and resources about portable generators, including a great tips sheet, that you can download and post on your fridge for easy access all winter long from the “safety in the home” section of the public education page of our website.

Photo of Boston skyline

Only weeks remain to apply for the Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award. The deadline is Friday, February 10th. 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 2016 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 Boston in June for an award presentation.

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

A family of nine in Montgomery County, Texas, and their two dogs are safe today after a fire at their home overnight. According to KHOU-TV, five adults and four children under the age of five escaped, along with two dogs.

According to a resident, about an hour before the fire, he smelled smoke and found a breaker extremely hot. He removed Illustration of Sparky installing smoke alarm in the ceilingthe breaker and after about 30 minutes, the smoke smell dissipated. Later, a roommate kicked in his bedroom door and told him the house was on fire. Then the resident went to his son’s room where there was heavy fire on the dresser around a television. He was able to get his children and his sister’s children out. There were no working smoke alarms in the home.

NFPA’s community toolkits provide public educators with the materials they need to educate their communities about fire safety. The toolkit on smoke alarms includes everything needed to motivate residents to install and maintain smoke alarms in the home. The electrical safety toolkit includes materials for teaching residents about electrical safety in the home.

Put a freeze on winter fires banner

We are in peak season for home heating fires. Half of all home heating fires occur in the months of December, January, and February. Space heaters are the type of heating equipment most often involved in home heating fires, figuring in two of every five of these fires and accounting for 84 percent of associated civilian deaths, 75 percent of civilian injuries, and 52 percent of direct property damage.

Recent incidents illustrate how damaging fires involving space heaters can be. According to WCSC-TV, a South Carolina family was displaced on December 30th when a fire started from a space heater that had been left running and spread to a nearby sofa. “They were lucky they came home when they did,” said Colleton County Fire Chief Barry McRoy. “We were able to save the residence and most of their belongings.”

The news station also reports that on New Year’s Day, South Carolina resident Kelli Parker said her dogs alerted her to a fire at her home. “Our house is destroyed,” Parker was quoted as saying. “All of our clothes are burned. We’ve lost everything.” The fire chief points to space heaters as the source.

NFPA’s Dan Doofus video, “Home Heating Safety,” which can be accessed on the Put a Freeze on Winter Fires campaign page, is an engaging, entertaining, and effective tool for educating the public about heating safety. The page also includes infographics, statistics, and links to reports related to winter fire safety.

NFPA and the United States Fire Administration (USFA) are teaming up to help reduce your risk to winter fires and other hazards, including carbon monoxide and electrical fires, over the next couple of months. Learn more about these specific elements of winter fire safety to help keep you safe this winter through our Put a Freeze on Winter Fires campaign.


We have an updated infographic that you can share in your communities and with your friends and family to help them learn about some of the fire dangers of the winter season. Please link back to when using the infographic online. 

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