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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.

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