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In June, more than 5,000 fire and life safety professionals will converge on the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center for the 2017 NFPA Conference & Expo. In response to last year’s feedback, several enhancements are planned, designed to strengthen the learning experience. Attendees can expect to have more hands-on learning experiences, smaller custom sessions, and a simpler, easier to follow schedule.

The Conference will feature 150 education sessions, 7 education session tracks, and 250 presenters. Under the Public Education track, participants can expect to attend sessions on topics including college campus safety, community risk reduction, fire safety for older adults, and effective messaging. The Conference web page allows you to design your own schedule.

The Conference is scheduled for June 4-7. There is still time to save on registration. Early bird pricing has been extended until April 30th.

On mornings when I can get out of the house a little early, I like to stop at the shopping mall and walk the corridors. I’m Image of exposed brick wall of a restaurant and a table for seating for fournot only able to get some exercise, but can use the occasion to relax my mind before embarking on the day’s important work of trying to make the world a safer place from fire. Before I leave the mall I like to reward myself with a cup of gourmet coffee.  But one day, my trip to the food court to order my vanilla cappuccino with almond milk and one sugar, was interrupted by a jarring sound–the mall’s fire alarm system. My mild irritation at having my coffee ritual interrupted soon gave way to consternation. Mall patrons seemed unaffected by the intermittent beeping of the alarm system so loud that the sound bounced off the corridor walls. They didn’t seem to notice the flashing of the strobe lights either. Nobody was moving, not the people in the food court or the patrons of the restaurants open at that hour serving breakfast.

Mall walkers didn’t break their stride. As I made my way toward an exit, a mall security employee rushed passed shouting to everyone to stay where they were and that it was a false alarm. It’s a good thing it wasn’t a real emergency. I’d hate to consider the outcome.

Restaurants, bars, and food courts are places where we like to relax, unwind, and treat ourselves to good food and drink, but let’s not get so relaxed that we don’t respond when we’re warned of an emergency. The assembly occupancy safety tips page on the NFPA website advises us to react immediately if the alarm sounds and to get out and stay out and not return under any circumstances. The Safety in Places of Public Assembly safety tip sheet offers a list of recommendations for safeguarding yourself before entering a building, after you’ve entered a building and what to do in an emergency.

In 2015, Jim Harding, the Fire & Life Safety Public Educator from the Midland Fire Department, Trena Winans, Director of Education and Community Outreach for Senior Services of Midland/Midland Council on Aging, and Kelli Jankens, Injury Prevention Specialist from MidMichigan Health, all headed down to Orlando, Florida to soak in  . . . . all the education they could about how to prevent fires and falls among the older adult population in their community.  NFPA hosted the Annual Remembering When Scholarship Conference and this Midland, MI team was among the 30 groups participating.  After the Conference, the team was motivated, enthusiastic, and committed to their Remembering When project and program as they waived goodbye.


Flash forward to 2017.  I met with the Midland Remembering When Team just recently as I was in Midland presenting at 27th Annual Youth Fire & Life Safety Conference.  I sat down with Jim, Trena, (Kelli was battling a cold), and a new member, Howie Schaeding at the MidMichigan Medical Center. Two years later, the Midland Team was still motivated, enthusiastic, committed, and now very proud to share some of their accomplishments.  Each team member was responsible for a piece of the program and they each took their role very seriously.  Processes and procedures had become reliable and routine, and their synergy was palpable.  


Howie Schaeding had become their number-one handyman.  He shared in detail his duties and endearing anecdotal stories.  "Show me how you get in and out of the bathtub" he asks many of their clients.  He wants to see exactly where grab bars need be installed for each client, in every bathroom.  He, undoubtedly, has become a treasured friend to many of the people he meets with, as they divulge their concerns about their safety to Howie.  They trust that the goal of this team is to keep them living safely and independent as long as possible.


Where will the Midland Team go from here?  Bigger and better is the hope, and was the purpose of our meeting.  Like many seasoned Remembering When Teams across the U.S. and Canada, they are looking for ways to keep their momentum going and continue to grow, and exactly why NFPA is offering a Next Steps Workshop in Quincy, MA, August 8-9, 2017. NFPA will select teams from 12 communities to attend this free training and will address strategies to evaluate program success, identify high risk audiences, build stakeholder relationships, maintain momentum, and overcome common obstacles to program growth.  Additionally teams will have the opportunity to network with other Remembering When facilitators and NFPA staff!  The application process opens, Monday, April 24, 2017.


Not ready for the Next Steps, don't worry, the Annual Remembering When Scholarship Conference will also be held November 1-3, 2017 in Nashville, TN.


Maybe the Team did soak in . . .  a little sunshine




Statistics on kids and medicationThe latest report from Safe Kids Worldwide™, Safe Medicine Storage: A Look at the Disconnect between Parent Knowledge and Behavior, explores parents’ knowledge, attitudes and behavior around medicine storage.


According to the report, every year, more than 59,000 young children are seen in emergency rooms because they got into medicine while a caregiver wasn’t looking – the equivalent of four busloads of kids every day. Most families believe they are being careful about storing medicine away from children; however, a national survey of 2,000 parents revealed a surprising gap between parents’ knowledge of what they should do to protect kids from accidental medicine poisoning and what they are actually doing.


The survey showed that 9 in 10 parents agree it is important to store all medicine up high and out of reach after every use, but nearly 7 in 10 said that they often store medicine within a child’s sight - on a shelf or surface at or above counter height.


Parents are often choosing convenience over caution by storing medicine in a handy and visible location for easy access or as a memory aid. In fact, 4 in 10 parents agreed that it is okay to keep daily medicine on the kitchen counter or in another visible location so it is handy, and nearly 5 in 10 parents agreed that when a child is sick, it is okay to keep medicine handy on the kitchen counter or in another visible location between doses. These findings support the need for more medication safety education and outreach efforts.


Medication Safety Tips


  • Put all medicine up and away and out of sight including your own. Make sure that all medicine and vitamins are stored out of reach and out of sight of children.
  • Close your medicine caps tightly after every use. Choose child-resistant caps for medicine bottles.
  • Be alert to visitors’ medicine. Guests in your home may not be thinking about the medicine they brought with them in their belongings.
  • Be alert to medicine in places your child visits. You know to store medicine safely in your home, but do you ever think about medicine safety when your child isn’t at home?
  • Write clear instructions for caregivers about your child’s medicine.
  • Clean out your medicine cabinet. Reduce the risk of kids getting into medicine by getting rid of unused or expired medicine.


The Food and Drug Administration says that certain medicines are so dangerous, they should be flushed down the toilet. The poison help hotline at 1 (800) 222-1222 is your resource for help in a poisoning emergency.

Safe Kids graphic and photo of child reaching onto a shelf for medicien

Alabama Fire College hosts 2017 Fire Safety Summit


After a record year of 115 fire fatalities in 2016, educators and fire service members joined together in Tuscaloosa to "Turn their attention to Fire Prevention".  The Alabama Fire College hosted a second Fire Safety Summit to bring resources to fire departments across Alabama through a grant from State Farm Insurance. This two day event focused on tools and programs that can be implemented in fire departments to provide education from children all the way to senior adults.  Experts from the region exhibited as well as presented on topics ranging from fire sprinklers to smoke alarms while sharing best practices and how to get resources.  For information on Smoke Alarm, visit Smoke Alarm Central- your go to for smoke alarm information. Thanks to Alabama for making fire safety a priority.#statefarmcares

Image of hoverboard followed by safety tipsA multiple-alarm fire broke out in a home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Friday, killing a toddler. According to NBC News, officials traced the blaze to a hoverboard that caught fire while plugged into an electrical socket on the first floor of the three-story house.

“They heard some sizzling and crackling in the hoverboard and shortly thereafter, it exploded in flames,” Brian Enterline, the city of Harrisburg’s fire chief, told the Associated Press.

A spokesman for the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission said that the fire was the first fatal incident linked to hoverboards. The agency has investigated 60 cases of hoverboard fires in the past year and a half. The investigation into the fire is ongoing.

After the scooters emerged as one of the hottest gifts of the 2015 holiday season, reports of hoverboard fires soon began to surface. The devices’ rechargeable lithium-ion cells contain a potentially flammable solution, which can explode if the battery is damaged or defective.

NFPA’s Hoverboard Safety tip sheet includes these precautions:

  • Read and follow all manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Do not leave a hoverboard unattended.
  • Stop using your hoverboard if it overheats.
  • Never leave the hoverboard plugged in overnight.

The tip sheet also includes a list of signs to look for indicating that there is a problem with the hoverboard and what to do if you notice any of these signs.

A firefighter also died while responding to the blaze. Lieutenant Dennis Devoe, a 21-year veteran of the Harrisburg department, was killed on his way to the fire station when another car struck his vehicle. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered flags at the state’s capitol to fly at half-staff in DeVoe’s honor.

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

  • What do a funeral parlor, hunting lodge, veterinary clinic, and public library have in common? They all play a role in the public education efforts of the newly chosen Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year.
  • They can uproot trees, toss around cars, and destroy buildings. Did you know that tornadoes are more common in the United States than in any other country? Learn how to prepare for tornado season, which began this month.
  • Guess who’s got 66 candles on the birthday cake and wants you to join in on the celebration.


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!

What do a funeral parlor, hunting lodge, veterinary clinic, and public library have in common? They all play a role Head and shoulders shot of Division Chief Hulin in uniformin the public education efforts of the 2017 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year. Fire and Life Safety Education Division Chief Dolly Hulin of the Thomasville Fire Department in Thomasville, North Carolina, calls NFPA the “one-stop-shop” for all of her department’s education and prevention efforts. She is known for her extraordinary commitment to fire and burn prevention education. Her outreach efforts include Safety Fest, an event she created to raise awareness during Fire Prevention Week that is done in partnership with a local funeral home. More than 20 area agencies are invited and hundreds of residents attend. The funeral home and library parking lots serve as the venue.

 In addition, Chief Hulin has visited veterinary offices in her community with NFPA’s Pet Safety tip sheet, which she suggested to NFPA, and provides NFPA cooking safety tip sheets in each grocery store bag containing a Thanksgiving turkey. Hulin also helps nearby communities to launch their own fire safety programs, and teaches Division chief Hulin and pet safetyhunter safety classes, in which she ensures that all participants know the importance of having smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in their cabins and campers. Each year, NFPA bestows the Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year award on an educator who works for a local fire department or fire marshal’s office in the U.S. or Canada and uses NFPA's materials in consistent and creative ways. The recipient receives a $1,000 honorarium and is honored during a ceremony at NFPA Conference & Expo. The fire department receives $1,000 for use toward public education activities.


campus fire safety, fire safety abroad, student fire safety

In 2011, a fast-moving fire swept through a building in Paris that killed four people and injured many others. Three of the victims were students studying abroad. The building where they lived had no smoke alarms, no fire escapes, and only narrow wooden stairwells that became overcrowded and impassable in the fire.

When it comes to our students on college campuses, including those traveling and studying abroad, safety is paramount. There are marked differences between the U.S. and other countries when it comes to fire safety and public education, according to a recent “Outreach” column, “Fire Safety Abroad,” in the January/February 2017 issue of NFPA Journal. It would serve us well to understand these differences and how we can take the appropriate steps to help ensure the safety of these young adults when they go overseas. Three of these tips include:

• Take a couple of battery-operated smoke alarms with you and place them in the apartment
• Try and live on a low floor so you can be reached by a fire truck ladder
• Choose a residence made of brick or stone rather than wood and with unobstructed windows

As the spring semester comes to a close and students prepare for a summer abroad program, take the time to review these simple but lifesaving measures and add these measures to the list of to-do's before they hop on a plane.

For additional information about campus fire safety, including tip sheets, checklists, videos and more, visit NFPA’s campus fire safety webpage.

Cover image of Educational Messages Desk ReferenceA recent three-alarm fire that damaged the State Police Museum & Learning Center in Grafton, Massachusetts, broke out spontaneously when rags and sawdust tossed together in a plastic bag heated up and ignited, the state fire marshal said.

According to the Boston Globe, workers were refinishing wooden molding in the museum and as they completed their work for the day they put rags with stain on them into plastic trash bags along with sawdust accumulated during the project. Over the next few hours, the rags began to dry out, producing heat that ignited the sawdust, State Fire Marshal Peter. J. Ostroskey said in a statement. He said the fire was caused by the spontaneous combustion of oily rags.

“As flammable oil from rags dry out, they produce heat that can start a fire like this one which is why it is important to dispose of oily rags properly,” Ostroskey said. “When balled up with combustibles like sawdust, a fire can quickly start.’’

NFPA’s Educational Messages Desk Reference, which provides nationally recognized, consistent fire and life safety messages, includes a chapter on flammable and combustible liquids that has messaging on the topic of oily rags and related matters.

  • Store oily and solvent-wet rags in a tightly sealed metal container or hang outside to dry and then discard them.
  • If you spill a flammable liquid on your clothing, place the clothing outside to dry before laundering.
  • Keep oil-based paints and flammable and combustible solvents in their original containers and tightly capped–never in breakable glass containers.

The museum blaze was concentrated in the second floor meeting room where the restoration work was underway, officials said. The museum’s exhibits and galleries, which are on the first floor of the building, sustained only smoke and water damage.

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