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Since the early 2000s, the media has reported on  deaths from electric shock drowning (ESD), yet many people say they have never heard about this troubling trend. ESD can occur in swimming pools, hot tubs, spas, marinas, lakes and ponds, and it happens when faulty wiring sends an electrical current into the water. The current then passes through the body and causes paralysis. When this happens, a person can no longer swim and ultimately drowns. 


Some would argue the number of electric shock deaths reported are not that high, yet ESD severely injuries and kills many people a year. Why the discrepancy? ESD, unfortunately, is not easy to detect in an autopsy, which leads to ESD cases not being properly reported or investigated. In most cases, first responders have to rely on the accounts of eyewitnesses who hear cries for help and/or learn from other swimmers that they felt a tingling sensation in the water. Most often, the cases end up being reported as drownings and the real cause of death — electricity in the water — remains completely undetected.


Sounds scary? It is. All this month NFPA is raising awareness of electrical hazards in and around our homes during National Electrical Safety Month. As we head into Memorial Day weekend and the start of summer, we encourage people to learn more about the potential risks that exist in swimming pools, hot tubs and spas, on board boats and in the waters surrounding boats, marinas and launch ramps. The good news is, these deaths are preventable if we take the time to understand the dangers and obey the warning signs.


Our new video (below) is one way we’re helping educate people so we can all safely enjoy summer water activities. The video is meant to be shared and we invite you to give it to family members, friends and neighbors. After watching it, take the opportunity to start a discussion with those you love about the ways you can reduce your risk of ESD.



NFPA has a number of really great resources, too, for swimmers, boat and pool owners, as well as for marina operators including tip sheets, checklists, brochures and more that you can download, use (and share!) immediately. You can find everything at For more great insight on this topic, check out NFPA's electrical technical lead, Derek Vigstol's latest blog


As the summer months beckon us to the beauty of watering holes and backyard pools, let’s work together to help raise more awareness of this deadly problem so that all of us can stay safe this summer and throughout the year. 

May 17th marked the very first Fire Safety Summit in Ames, Iowa.  The Iowa State University campus provided a beautiful backdrop as over 60 attendees from across the state rolled in for a diverse line-up of topics on the agenda, including state updates on carbon monoxide and fireworks. On site that day were NFPA representatives from the divisions of Public Education, Codes & Standards, and the Fire Sprinkler Initiative, along with presentations from Consumer Safety Product Commission, the American Red Cross and Sioux City Fire Department.   Special Agent in Charge for the Iowa Department of Public Safety and NFPA Public Education Network Representative for the State of Iowa commented  “Our first annual Iowa Fire Safety Summit was a success.  It was very beneficial to introduce Iowa’s fire service to NFPA and the great resources and information their organization can provide.  We’ve heard great feedback from the attendees and feel we have a strong foundation to build upon for the coming years.”

Photo of inside of a clothes dryer, followed by a bulleted list of safety tipsIn Iowa, the Dubuque Fire Department reports that lint in a dryer exhaust duct started an early morning fire recently at a mobile home. Firefighters were able to quickly locate the fire under the mobile home and extinguish it. According to KCRG-TV9, the homeowner told authorities he heard the smoke alarm was able to escape unharmed from the mobile home. NFPA’s Clothes Dryer Safety tip sheet provides reminders on how to prevent a dryer fire.

Boats at a marina, followed by bulleted safety tips

This week kicks off National Safe Boating Week, part of the North American Safe Boating Campaign, which focuses on spreading the message of boating safety and encouraging boater education. Promoting life jacket wear by every boater is the leading goal of the campaign.

The campaign traces its history to a resolution prepared by the U.S. Coast Guard and signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It is a year-round campaign focused on spreading the message of boating safety that kicks off for a full week before Memorial Day weekend. NFPA’s Marina and Boating Safety tip sheet features safety tips for boaters, swimmers, and marina staff about the dangers in and around the water. The tip sheet can be used as part of a safe boating campaign or as stand-alone, timely information.

A smoke alarm shrouded by smokeFire and life safety professionals are known to utter these words: Choose a device that is listed by a qualified testing laboratory or Check the device for the label of a nationally recognized testing laboratory. From time to time they may have a need for professional product, equipment, process or chemical testing, inspection and evaluation services from a nationally recognized testing laboratory.  But how do you contact one of these laboratories? The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains a list of them. OSHA’s Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory Program recognizes private sector organizations that can perform certification to make sure products meet the requirement for construction and general industry OSHA electrical standards.

Image of a smoke alarm, followed by a list of safety tipsAirbnb hosts rent all or part of their home to guests as an alternative to traditional hotels or other hospitality settings. A new study in the journal Injury Prevention evaluating Airbnb fire safety finds that 20 percent of Airbnb’s in Washington, D.C. might not have smoke alarms. The study evaluated listings of amenities in Airbnb properties in 16 U.S. cities to calculate availability of safety features. According to WTOP, the study found that 58 percent listed carbon monoxide alarms and less than half reported having fire extinguishers or first aid kits.

“Safety amenities are important when you stay someplace and you as a consumer should be aware if they’re provided,” said Dr. Vanya Jones of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

NFPA’s safety tips sheets on the topics of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and hotel and motel safety provide advice on precautions to take and safety measures for the home or when you’re away.

An RV on the road with bicycles fastened to the back. Closeup of a carbon monoxide alarm

A fifth-wheel recreational vehicle (RV) was destroyed by fire on Friday evening in Bend, Oregon. When fire crews arrived the RV was fully involved. The RV was parked on private property and not attached to a vehicle when the fire broke out. According to KTVZ, losses were estimated at $7,000. The owner was moved to temporary lodging. Deputy Fire Marshal Cindy Kettering is reminding the public that working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are just as important in RVs as they are in traditional homes.

NFPA’s motor home, camper, and recreational vehicle safety tip sheet has pointers for helping to prevent fires and dangerous levels of carbon monoxide exposure.

One family learned first hand that working smoke alarms save lives a few months ago.  A brave 8 year old heard the sound of the smoke alarm and woke her family up.  Since the fire had spread, they used their second way out.  According to Rachel Moreno, Public information officer with the Harris County Fire Marshals office, " This family practiced Know Your Way Out- an outreach campaign her office works on all year!"   With escape planning and having a meeting place at the heart of their community outreach- it was so awesome that a family was saved by the sound of a working smoke alarm.  To make sure families are safe all year round, the Harris County Fire Marshals office has seasonal safety messages that match the season. To help families prepare this spring, Harris County Fire Marshals office developed a Spring Cleaning Checklist. Grilling is a year round activity in Texas but with the warm weather across the US this week, its a good time to check your grill and follow these safety tips.  All this safety tips and more are what fire safety is about! Hi Five to our Texas buddies for your great work and congratulations on this smoke alarm save!

What do crawfish, pepper jelly, alligator bites and fire safety have in common?  They are all part of the offering you might get in Louisiana this spring. The Louisiana State Fire Marshals office in conjunction with NFPA sponsored the first Fire safety summit with 86 firefighters and fire personnel in Zachary.  This exciting educational event focused on the fire safety issues that are causes fires and injuring LA residents.  Firefighters, fire marshals and educators from across the state attended this inaugural event to focus on fire safety in the Bayou.  American Red Cross and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission were just two of the many partners that helped with this day long event. The day included information on smoke alarms, carbon monoxide safety and how to reach senior adults through programs like Remembering When. Click here to find out more about fire safety in Louisiana!

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