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As Hurricanes Marco and Laura approach the Gulf Coast this week, experts are calling their arrival “unprecedented” as the two storms could make landfall within days of each other. Weather experts are also reminding coastal communities that additional storms could still be on the horizon, with late September and October being the peak months for hurricane activity.


To help residents navigate this storm season, NFPA provides the following electrical safety tips that can help reduce the risk for injury before, during, and after a storm:


  • Listen to local weather reports for current weather and flooding conditions
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so by authorities and turn off propane tanks.
  • Stay out of flood waters, if possible, and do not drive into flooded areas. Even water only several inches deep can be dangerous.
  • Treat all downed wires as if they are live even if you don’t see any sparks, and especially if there is standing water nearby. Alert authorities immediately if you see downed wires in your area.
  • If your home has experienced flooding, it’s important to keep your power off until a professional electrician has inspected your entire home for safety, including appliances. Water can damage the internal components in electrical appliances like refrigerators, washing machines and dryers, and cause shock and fire hazards. Have a qualified electrician come visit your home and determine what electrical equipment should be replaced and what can be reconditioned.
  • If you smell gas in your home or neighborhood, notify emergency authorities immediately. Do not turn on lights, light matches, or engage in any activity that could create a spark.
  • In the event that electricity may not be available to your home and you have not experienced any water in your home, generators are a viable option to power some of your small appliances. However, if used improperly they also pose a fire hazard, risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, and electrocution.


The following are key guidelines for using a portable generator:

  • Generators should be operated in well ventilated locations outdoors away from all doors, windows and vent openings.generator safety
  • 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.


NFPA’s safety tip sheet on portable generators provides these steps and more to help keep you safe.


For any questions or concerns about your home’s electrical system, including after a storm, contact a qualified electrician who can help, and visit our electrical safety webpage for additional tips and resources.


Related information can found on NFPA’s “emergency preparedness” webpage.




Changing the Way We Learn

Posted by avastis Employee Aug 21, 2020

In April 2019, 90 fire and life safety (FLS) educators from various fire departments came to New Orleans, LA for a day of in-person learning. In 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions were rolling in, the possibility of such an event was in question.  Ashley Rodrigue, public affairs director of the LA State Fire Marshal's Office and state public education representative for NFPA describes the situation.


“At first, we thought we could still host an in-person event, just changing up things like swapping buffet lunch for boxed lunches.  But then vendors started pulling out because of travel restrictions and we realized this wasn’t going to happen,” she says.


When Kelly Ransdell, her NFPA staff contact, asked the planning committee if there was interest in moving to a virtual format, the answer was a resounding “YES.”


“Being able to have NFPA on board from the start, with the mechanisms to make it happen, and being the true partner that they’ve been, we were able to still provide our summit,” said Rodrique.


They modified the program and flexed to meet the virtual format. Round table discussions with vendors, for instance, wouldn’t work in a simplified virtual meeting. They selected three topics that were timely and would resonate:  Using social media for FLS efforts; addressing burn-out among first responders; and updates/national outlook from NFPA. Attendance at the event stayed steady at around 70 people, even with the built-in breaks. One benefit of the virtual environment was the attendance of FLS educators from outside LA.


A similar scene was unfolding in Mississippi and Alabama. In July of 2019, MS and AL each hosted an in-person summit with a full house of FLS Educator attendees. This year they joined forces to host a combined virtual summit.  “I had recently attended a virtual training and thought – this is a good possibility for us,” says Tamm Peavy, fire safety educator for the MS State Fire Marshal's Office, and state public education representative for NFPA.


Even with a few technical glitches, the combined summit had as many as 155 people logged into the event, including professionals from other states. The day-long event included planned breaks and allowed for attendees to log in and out for particular sessions, giving them the flexibility to work in between sessions. 


“I would definitely consider a hybrid event in the future. The in-person experience is important, but a virtual option allows people from far away to participate,” says Peavy. COVID-19 has made Peavy rethink many of her future FLS education efforts, especially as schools are less likely to invite fire departments to do in-person education, and fire department open house events are difficult to manage.  Her team is planning for how to engage for Fire Prevention Week this year and using


As the the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and our fire and life safety educators are on it! 


Follow us on Twitter, Sparky the Fire Dog’s Facebook page, NFPA’s Facebook page, Instagram, and YouTube to keep up with the latest!


This year’s Fire Prevention WeekTM (FPW) theme of “Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen” is even more compelling as the incidence of home fires and burns related to cooking climb amid COVID-19 stay at home orders.   With resources in English, Spanish and French, fire and life safety (FLS) public education professionals can use the free resources found on and purchase specially themed products from NFPA to support their FPW activities.


On July 30th, over 1400 people tuned into NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week 2020: Out of the Box Ideas Webinar  to learn new ways to reach their communities through a blend of traditional, digital and virtual activities.  Featuring Maria Bostian, NFPA's Fire & Life Safety Educator of the Year, the webinar offered easy to implement ways to use the tools and resources found on to provide critical, lifesaving education that is fun and engaging for all audiences. This year the much-anticipated Sparky the Fire Dog stuffy has made its way into our product offerings, and FLS educators are finding new ways to reach their audiences amidst community contact restrictions.


John Yacovino, Fire Marshal and Director of Emergency Management in Meriden, CT is just one of many getting creative with outreach efforts.   With funding from a local grant, he purchased 100 Sparky stuffed dolls to have on hand for children who are displaced due to house fires.    As schools are unlikely to have fire service professionals come into classrooms, he is working with his local Board of Education to assure FPW materials find their way to the students and their families. 


Other FLS educators are collaborating with their community partners to provide FPW materials at school-lunch pick up sites and food pantries in their communities.  Some are taking advantage of their artistic sides to create YouTube videos reading The Story of Sparky , delivering NFPA Mini-lessons, and even reaching Gen Z with Tik Toks about fire safety. Our Out of the Box Ideas document can help you and your colleagues plan for  your FPW 2020 efforts. 


Share what you are doing in your community to get the word out about cooking safety using the hashtag #firepreventionweek on social media!

Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and Follow NFPA on twitter @Sparky_Fire_Dog, Facebook Sparky the FIre Dog and Instagram @nfpadotorg to keep up with the latest.  NFPA’s COVID-19 page has resources to support your FLS education efforts including videos, tip sheets and social media cards.

Three townhouse fires in three municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area in 10 days is unusual.


Although there’s no pattern to the fires (and no fatalities or injuries), there are similarities – particularly the extent of fire spread – that should alert residents to plan and practice their escape.


A fire in Oakville, Ont., on Aug. 4 damaged four units in a seven-unit townhouse complex. Chief Paul Boissonneault told a local news website the fire was a challenge to fight because the units backed onto a lake and were inaccessible from the rear.


“One of the units was heavily involved with fire coming out the upper windows and through the roof upon arrival,” Boissonneault said. “The roofline was already breeching on the neighbouring unit to the east.”




A July 26 fire at a townhouse complex in Richmond Hill, northeast of Toronto, affected 16 homes.




Twelve hours later, an early morning fire on July 27 in Stoney Creek, west of Toronto, started in the backyard of attached townhomes and was swept by wind down the roofline. Eleven units were severely damaged.




Andrea Gaynor, an investigator with the Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal, told CBC News there was no early detection because the fire started outside and intensified as it engulfed the building.


NFPA recommends that residents have two ways out of every room, that home escape plans be practiced at least twice a year, and that residents have an outside meeting place – a tree or mailbox or a nearby neighbour’s driveway.


If there are infants, older adults, or family members with mobility limitations, make sure someone is assigned to help them.


NFPA offers safety tips on myriad topics. Visit Follow us on Twitter at @nfpa, @Sparky_Fire_Dog and, in Canada, @LauraKingNFPA

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