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10 Posts authored by: cthompson Employee

Over the past few decades, there have been great strides in public awareness around home fire safety and prevention. One example of this success is around smoke alarms, which shows that most homes now have at least one installed. But even with measures of progress, we continue to see that more work needs to be done around better educating people about the critical importance of properly installing, testing, and maintaining smoke alarms.


In New Hampshire, seven deadly home fires have occurred in 2020, collectively claiming the lives of eight people. The common thread between these tragic incidents is that none of the homes had working smoke alarms. In the last five years, 49 people have died in home fires in New Hampshire. In more than half of those fires, smoke alarms were not present. According to NFPA smoke alarm statistics, nearly two-thirds of home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no working smoke alarms.smoke alarm surrounded by smoke


Following are NFPA requirements and recommendations around proper installation, testing and maintenance of smoke alarms:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, in each bedroom, and near all sleeping areas.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
  • Consider installing interconnected smoke alarms, so that when one alarm sounds, they all do.
  • For the best protection, use smoke alarms that feature ionization and photoelectric technologies; combination alarms that include both in a single device are available.
  • Replace batteries when the alarm chirps, signaling that the batteries are running low.
  • Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.

Use this 10-minute mini-lesson to deliver smoke alarm information in an easily sharable format, along with our other smoke alarm resources to better educate your community about their importance and value.

The 2020 NFPA Spotlight on Public Education conference went virtual this year, featuring four professionally led workshops that provided fire & life safety educators, injury prevention, and public education leaders with knowledge and networking opportunities to address public education in today’s world.

Here are some of the highlights, if you missed out.


“Hoarding: From Enforcement to Engagement”

This workshop highlighted the risks to residents and first responders from hoarding, along with methods to address these situations for the safety and well-being of all involved. Hoarding is a complex issue that can affect people from all socioeconomic levels and types of housing. Hoarding behavior is indicated by excessive accumulation inside or outside the home combined with an inability to give/toss anything away. In hoarding situations, residents have an increased risk of falls, fire, and exacerbating their chronic conditions due to the inability to find things, use the kitchen/bathrooms, and unsanitary and cluttered conditions. First responders find their ability to deal with fires and other emergencies at a higher risk due to increased fire load and the lack of clear pathways to maneuver through the home.SOPE 2020 banner


Once hoarding behavior has been identified, there are a number of ways to address the resident:

  • For community engagement
  • -Get buy-in from church members, family, or neighbors
  • -Consider creating a task force with primary partners like housing and public health to address social, psychological, or environmental questions in treatment
  • -Establish procedures like ongoing visitation
  • For addressing hoarding behavior
  • -Set realistic expectations
  • -Aim for home functional and safe, not home beautiful
  • -Engage in their goals for their home using an empathetic approach

“Community Risk Assessment: The First Chapter in Your CRR Story”

Conducting a Community Risk Assessment (CRA) is the vital first step of Community Risk Reduction (CRR), a process that helps communities recognize potential risks and develop proactive plans to alleviate them, improving safety outcomes for residents and first responders. This session helped public educators and first responders explore how to use their data as a strong launch-pad into addressing specific risks in their communities.

 South County Fire was able to use their CRA to identify areas of the county that produced higher call volumes requesting COVID-19 tests. With the tools gained from the NFPA CRA pilot project, they introduced a set of education campaigns and new procedures that is beginning to create a decrease in those calls. Windsor used the dashboard to more accurately track their demographics, leading to COVID-19 outreach that focused on high-density areas and new materials that better reflect the community.

To put your best foot forward in completing a Community Risk Assessment for CRR, remember:

  • When collecting data, get as local as you can, as often as you can.
  • Use the data to tell a story about your community
  • Form partnerships with your key stakeholders
  • Measure the capacity of emergency services to deal with crises

Fire departments can also apply to be a part of the next phase of NFPA’s
CRA pilot project. For more information, please contact our CRR team at


 “Taking your education programs virtually anywhere”

Fire and life safety educators gained a deeper understanding of how to engage with their participants in a virtual world and enhance their experiences by using digital tools, tips and tricks. Taking presentations online can be a great way to meet the audience where they are, increase convenience, reach a larger audience, and open collaboration opportunities. They are fun, interactive, and help participants take in information at their own pace with recording and re-watching capabilities.


When considering what virtual tools work for you, remember these tips from Brene Duggins, fire prevention coordinator for the Holly Grove, NC Fire Department and media coordinator of the Oak Grove High School in Davidson County, NC:

  • Don’t panic—it may be new, but it’s easy to do!
  • Collaborate with other educators
  • Find areas in the community that increase internet accessibility for students that might need it
  • Consider tools such as breakout rooms, exit tickets, and more uses for Google Forms

 “Falls Prevention among Older Adults”


Falls send approximately 1 in 17 people over age 65 to the ER each year. The fire service is often first on the scene, responding to more lift assist calls than fire calls for older adults. In this workshop, participants learned about the impacts of the aging process, and the physical and environmental conditions which the increase risk of falls. A first fall increases the fear of falling, which in turn can actually create greater risk, engaging the older adult in a vicious cycle.


Using  NFPA Remembering When A Fire and Fall Prevention Program for Older Adults from NFPA as a base, Saskatoon, Canada Fire Department created a proactive-reactive-proactive approach that adds home visits and education to decrease the potential for a first and subsequent falls. By connecting residents with local health agencies to perform follow-up, their activities have resulted in a reduction of “repeat” falls among residents.


According to Dori Krahn of the Saskatoon, FD, their program has helped residents stay in their homes longer, engage them in manageable changes, socialize, and gives the fire department an opportunity to check homes for additional risks of fire including assuring working smoke alarms.


Farmington Hills, MI Fire Department partners with the Knox Box and File of Life tools to assure quick access and information when helping senior residents when they experience falls or other medical emergencies. And in Greenville, North Carolina, the Remembering When program is made sustainable by the Vidant Health Center Injury Prevention Program through a partnership with local colleges to recruit and train public health and gerontology students to conduct home visits. The program is further sustained through a robust partnership with the regional falls coalition.


 Remembering When materials are free and available on NFPA’s public education website and are available in in English, Spanish, Russian and Mandarin.


As we find ourselves dealing with new ways to reach our audiences, this Spotlight on Public Education event gave an opportunity for fire and life safety and public education professionals to learn, connect and energize their efforts. Overall, it was an event filled with resources and real-life examples on how to improve public education and fire and life safety outcomes for your community. For more information, visit NFPA’s Public Education page.

A Columbus, OH family of four lost their lives to an early morning fire this past weekend, caused by embers from their fireplace igniting nearby flammable materials. According to news report, while the home had smoke alarms, investigators found that the batteries were missing.


This tragic incident reinforces the importance of working smoke alarms throughout the home while underscoring a potential fire hazard associated with fireplaces.

Following are reminders to share with your community when using fireplaces. This unfortunate event leaves a painful hole in the community. Fire prevention works best when multiple levels of protection come together.

Working smoke alarms, home fire sprinklers, and a home escape plan practiced at least twice a year, give residents a complete system that decrease the chance of a devastating fire while increasing the chances of safely escaping if a fire does indeed break out.



Use these smoke alarm tips to help ensure that your community will know how to protect themselves with smoke alarms, summarized here:

  • A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area.
  • Install alarms on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least once a month by pressing the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
  • Today’s smoke alarms will be more technologically advanced to respond to a multitude of fire conditions, yet mitigate false alarms.
  • A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove.
  • People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms with strobe lights and bed shakers.
  • Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.

Fire departments and other organizations have many resources at their disposal to assist people with accessing the fire protection measures they need. These tips make creating a home escape plan easy to understand, and these sharable downloads present useful information regarding home fire sprinklers.

The realities of COVID-19 are pushing households to find creative ways to celebrate Halloween this year.

With trick-or-treating and Halloween parties being less of an option, it’s likely that more home decorating, pumpkin carving and use of jack-o-lanterns will occur this year, which may include increased use of candles and electrical lighting.Halloween decorations


With these considerations in mind, NFPA is reminding everyone to make fire safety a priority when celebrating the holiday.

Candles are among the leading causes of U.S. home fires. According to NFPA’s latest U.S. Home Candle Fires report, an annual average of 7,610 home fires are started by candles, resulting in 81 deaths, 677 injuries and $278 million in direct property damage. In addition, an average of 770 home fires started when decorations ignited. These fires caused an average of two civilian deaths, 20 civilian injuries, and $11.1 million in direct property damage per year.


NFPA shares these considerations to make sure that the only scary thing about Halloween this year is a horror movie marathon:

  • Use a battery-operated candle or glow stick in jack-o-lanterns.
  • Dried flowers, cornstalks, and crepe paper catch fire easily. Keep all decorations away from open flames and other heat sources like light bulbs and heaters.
  • When using electrical lighting to decorate your home, make sure it is used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Remember to keep exits clear of decorations so nothing blocks escape routes. Make sure all smoke alarms are working.

For families still planning to attend Halloween parties or go trick-or-treating:

  • When choosing costumes, stay away from long trailing fabric that could come in contact with open flames or other heat sources.
  • Teach children to stay away from open flames, including jack-o-lanterns with candles in them.
  • Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costumes.


For more resources on how to keep the festivities from turning frightful, visit the NFPA Halloween safety page. Include kids in fire safety with age-appropriate activities that can be found on NFPA’s Sparky the Fire Dog homepage.

Home is where we feel safest from fire, but it’s also the place most home fires happen. Cooking fires in particular cause the most home fire injuries, with about 470 home cooking fires happening every day in 2018. Adults aged 65 and older are at the highest risk in a home fire. This year’s Fire Prevention week theme, “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen,” is a great tool for reviewing kitchen-safe practices with all community members, and with NFPA’s Cooking mini-lesson, you can share safe cooking reminders with other adults in your community.


The best way to prepare for an emergency is to use multiple techniques to remember what to do and how to stay safe. To share these messages with a wider audience, consider getting a group together over video call or in an environment where people can socially distance, to complete this activity. Adult Cooking Mini-LessonThe Adult Mini-Lesson walks you through a small curriculum aimed at helping participants recognize unsafe kitchen behaviors and learn better practices that can help keep them safe.


Here are the main takeaways from the lesson that attendees will learn about safe cooking:

  • Stay alert
  • Watch what you heat
  • Keep things that can catch fire well away from heat sources
  • If you are on fire, stop, drop, and roll
  • If you have a fire, get out and stay out. Call 911 from outside


Simple choices like keeping an eye on what you’re cooking and wearing clothes that don’t dangle can significantly lower your risk of having a cooking fire. Fire Prevention Week is October 4-10, 2020. Visit for the resources you need to help keep your community safe. Let’s all Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!TM

Fire Prevention Week provides a great opportunity to remind communities about the importance of fire prevention at home. This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme, “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen,” reinforces critical home fire safety messages, as cooking is the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries. But the cooking safety messages around Fire Prevention Week apply far beyond the campaign. NFPA’s Fire Prevention Happens All Year Long tip sheet is full of guidelines and recommendations for practicing fire safety in the kitchen any time or season."Fire Prevention Happens All Year Long" tip sheet


Following are key cooking safety messages included in the resource:


  • Be on alert! Don’t use the stove or stovetop if you’re sleepy or have had alcohol.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.

For more information and resources on cooking safety, visit our
Fire Prevention Week website.

With so many of us working and studying either from home or in new arrangements created to socially distance, COVID-19 has certainly changed how we connect. However, there are still countless creative ways to showcase this year’s Fire Prevention Week theme, “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.” NFPA has created a list of Out of theFPW Out of the Box Ideas document Box ideas to help you get the word out about cooking safety.



Among these resources are tips and recommendation for connecting with community partners. Many businesses and organizations champion safety so include them in your outreach efforts. Check with insurance and protection companies, community-based groups focused on support for families, and other local businesses to see if they would be interested in partnering up. They may have a budget for fire-safety messaging, which can be used for co-branding materials, FPW products, and shared media spots.



Drive-thru and social media events and activities also offer opportunities to engage the whole community.

Watch the recording of our “Out of the Box” Fire Prevention Week Webinar for more interesting ideas. Also, take a look at the Keep Your Community Cooking Safely toolkit, which provides resources for getting kitchen safety messaging out in your neighborhood. Activities, tip sheets, and more can all be found on the FPW website.

This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme, “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen,” focuses on cooking safety, as cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. But it’s important to be prepared in case of a fire in your home, no matter the cause. While NFPA’s survey data shows that 71 percent of Americans have a home escape plan, less than half (47 percent) have actually practiced it.


Home escape planning and practice are basic but critical elements of fire safety. Today’s home fires are faster than ever. In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds.

 home fire escape grid

 To help be prepared in the event of a home fire and escape safely, download this Home Fire Escape Grid so that you can develop and practice a plan with everyone in your household. Practice makes perfect, so drill your escape strategy twice a year, in as realistic conditions as possible. Find more tips and recommendations for creating an escape plan, along with other valuable safety messages for kitchen safety, on our Fire Prevention Week website.

As many households enter the new school year remotely and several family members continue to work from or remain at home, this year’s Fire Prevention Week theme, “Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen”, is more relevant than ever. Spending more time at home means more time in the kitchen, so up through Fire Prevention Week this October 4-10, we’ll be highlighting resources that can help you make the most of this year’s special circumstances while promoting fire safety.


Cooking together is a great way to bond with the family but adding kids to the mix requires reviewing basic safety precautions. While cooking fires remain the leading cause of home fires and injuries, non-fire cooking injuries are even more common than those caused by the fires. NFPA’s most recent cooking fires report shows that nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of children ages 5-9 and 14 percent of children age 10-14 suffered microwave oven scalds.Kids in the Kitchen tip sheet


Our Kids in the Kitchen tip sheet offers simple but important ways to help kids of all ages learn how to participate in cooking activities without putting themselves or others at risk. 


Educators, parents, and other community members have ample opportunities to be innovative in how they share meaningful fire safety messages around the kitchen this year. For more ways that NFPA can help, check out the Fire Prevention Week homepage.

Pool Safety

As we swim through the humidity of late July, many households are turning to backyard pools for relief. Ensuring your safety while having fun is of utmost importance. The usual rules apply—do not let children swim unattended, don’t consume alcohol before getting into the pool, and use your sunscreen. The maintenance of your pool is just as critical to your personal safety! Improper storage and handling of pool chemicals often leads to fires, explosions, injuries and toxic fume events—the last thing on anyone’s mind for a day at the pool.


Earlier this month, accidental mixing led to hospital visits and more for two households in Whitman and Agawam, Massachusetts, prompting State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey to issue safety information emphasizing the importance of following manufacturer instructions and ensuring chemicals are stored and handled properly. He stressed the way to avoid burns, explosions, and toxic fumes can be as simple as reviewing best practices, such as:

  • Keeping chemicals secure and dry
  • Putting powder in water—not water in powder
  • Thoroughly cleaning tools and storage locations to avoid accidental mixing

A full list of other tips and considerations can be found on the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services website. While these chemicals are made for water, it is important to remember that small quantities that drip from pipes, cracked windows, or a wet swimsuit can set off dangerous chemical reactions. Following strict guidelines for cleaning tools is also necessary, as even mixing old and new batches of the same chemical can result in unforeseen consequences, which was the case in Agawam, MA.


NFPA 430, Code for the Storage of Liquid and Solid Oxidizers covers the proper care and storage of these powerful substances. And our pools, hot tubs, and spas safety tip sheet offers tips to avoid electrical shock while playing in your water oasis. Between a pandemic, the upcoming hurricane season, and other challenges, first responders have a lot on their plates. Let’s alleviate the burden by ensuring we work and play safely with the tools that can keep a sweet pool day from turning sour.

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