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Man testing smoke alarm

Spring is when many people decide to open up their seasonal houses, cabins, and cottages. An important part of the preparation is gearing up for fire safety. Just like permanent housing, vacation homes are vulnerable to unsafe conditions.

By the time vacationers arrive at their seasonal homes, the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms may no longer work and chimneys could be blocked.

Here are some safety tips:

  • Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
  • 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.
  • Test CO alarms at least once a month.
  • Pack extra batteries for smoke alarms and CO alarms in case they need replacing.
  • Make a home escape plan. Practice the plan with everyone in the household, including visitors.
  • Know the telephone number of the local fire department and the address and phone number of the vacation home.
  • Chimneys and vents need to be cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional at least once a year.
  • If you smoke, smoke outside. Use deep, sturdy ashtrays.
  • If you are renting, contact the property manager, landlord, or fire department to be sure that smoke alarms and CO alarms are installed and properly working.

NFPA’s tip sheets on smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, heating safety, smoking safety and escape planning provide further information on how to be safe while at your “home away from home.”

Dogs on leashes being held by their masters

May is National Pet Month, a time when the benefits of pets are celebrated. We all love our furry family members and want to keep them as safe as possible. While National Pet Month focuses on promoting responsible pet ownership and fundraising for the care of domesticated animals without homes, the observance is also a great reminder to consider your pet’s home fire safety.

Pets and wild animals have a part in starting about 700 home fires per year. Roughly three-quarters of those fires were started by cooking equipment, fireplaces or chimneys, lighting, or candles. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to minimize those risks. Check out our safety tip sheet on preventing fires with pets in the household.

Also, in the event that a home fire, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • As you exit your home, safely escort your pet outside only if you’re able to safely and swiftly do so. If you don’t see your pet as you exit your home, or if it resists your guidance to the outside, continue to get out as quickly as possible.
  • If you think your pet may be trapped inside your home, don’t go back inside to rescue him/her! Tell the fire department where you think your pet might be. REMEMBER: Firefighters are equipped and trained to go inside a burning building – you’re not!
  • Pets can be quite resourceful in a fire situation and may be able to escape on their own. In fact, news stories have reported on tragic incidents where a resident re-enters the home to save a pet and becomes trapped inside, when the pet has already escaped.

Logo with the words Remembering When Next Steps

Teams looking to expand their Remembering Whenprograms can apply for free training beginning today. NFPA will select teams from 12 communities to attend the 2017 Remembering When™ Next Steps workshop at NFPA headquarters in Quincy, Massachusetts, August 8-9. 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. 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 period for the Next Steps workshop closes Friday, June 2.

campus fire safety, fire safety abroad, student fire safety

NFPA, Campus Firewatch, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) have long been advocates for fire safety on college campuses and this year we’re teaming up again to promote "See It Before You Sign It", a campaign aimed at parents and college students to raise awareness about off-campus housing fire hazards. 

Having fire safety measures in place in the home or apartment is often overlooked by students who are often more interested in finding housing that is inexpensive, close to campus or provides them with their own bedroom. The "See It Before You Sign It" campaign is a great way for parents to bridge that knowledge gap and take a more active role in helping their loved ones choose secure, fire-safe housing.

Action steps to consider include:
• Using a checklist on move-in day to help ensure there are working smoke alarms and two ways out of the house, especially if you’re not able to view the property before the lease is signed
• Installing smoke alarms on move-in day, if the unit does not have them
• Purchasing an escape ladder If the rental is on an upper floor and the second way out is a window

The campaign is also a great resource for students who plan to study abroad for the summer or during a future semester. As parents, many of us may not be aware of the differences between the U.S. and other countries in terms of public education and fire safety. Learning more about these differences is key in keeping our students as safe as possible when they’re far away from home.

Whether your student is attending college nearby or across the ocean, having that important conversation about fire risk and taking action helps ensure our loved ones are safer should a fire occur. Find all of our great campaign resources including off-campus and dorm fire safety tips, infographics, social media messages, videos and checklists on Campus Firewatch, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, U.S. Fire Administration and NFPA websites. You can also follow the campaign on Twitter at #OffCampusFire.


Are you involved in campus fire safety activities where you work? Or maybe you have a story you want to share about your experience looking for off-campus housing? Let us know. We'd love to hear how you're helping advance this very important safety mission, and how we can help!

Illustration of Sparky the Fire Dog and checklist of areas to cleanup outdoors.

April 22nd is Earth Day. People in more than 190 countries will be gathering for teach-ins on environmental and climate literacy, and in Washington, D.C. there will be The March for Science, a series of rallies and marches to celebrate science and the role it plays in our everyday lives.

The Earth Smarts activity sheet on is a tool that communities can use as an action plan for Earth Day. The activity sheet has a checklist everyone can use to help protect the animals, trees, plants, and their homes.

Workshop exercise in which public educators are placing "post its" on a large piece of paper

Fire departments across Canada are meeting in Toronto this week for the NFPA Fire and Life Safety Education Summit. Participants are getting an overview of NFPA public education resources and discussing the fire and life safety challenges faced by departments. Participants will discuss how NFPA, provincial fire marshals, and Canadian distributors can support their fire and life safety education efforts. Also, a rural symposium was held, providing attention to issues faced by rural fire departments.

Photo of a cluttered room

A Norwalk, Connecticut, man died recently in a house fire fueled by hoarded belongings. This is the second fire in Norwalk in as many months in which towers of trash in the home hampered firefighters’ ability to rescue the homeowner and put out the fire. Firefighters from five neighboring communities arrived to help Norwalk in response to the blaze.

Deputy Chief Steven Shay is quoted as stating that fighting the fire and locating the victim were made difficult due to extreme hoarding conditions.

Hoarding, a condition in which a person has persistent difficulty discarding personal possessions, not only increases the risk of fire, it makes fire deadlier. In addition, hoarding is dangerous for firefighters. They can’t move swiftly through a home filled with clutter. Responders can be trapped and have objects fall on them.

According to The Hour, the victim of the most recent fire was known to authorities. He was cited in 2014 under the city’s blight ordinance. Instead of cleaning up, he moved clutter indoors.

The Hoarding and Fire Safety page of the NFPA website and the Hoarding and Fire safety tip sheet provide suggestions for reducing the risk of a fire due to hoarding


Image of Smoke Alarms and numbers. Sparky is also in the illustration

April marks Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month, a time designated to increase the understanding and appreciation of both subjects. Mathematics and statistics are important drivers of innovation in our technological world. Math clubs and student groups organize competitions, workshops, math art exhibits, and even math poetry readings.

Sparky’s Smoke Alarm Math activity sheet offers a fun way to reinforce math skills with kids while reminding them of what to do when the smoke alarm sounds.

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