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717 Posts authored by: lisabraxton Employee

Front page of Safety SourceBeginning next month the Safety Source newsletter will a different look and feel. NFPA is merging all of its newsletters into one monthly email—NFPA Network. You’ll receive information based on your areas of interest. We will continue to bring you timely resources each month to support your educational efforts. We hope you’ll like out fresh, new approach. The February issue of Safety Source includes details on how to be nominated or self-nominate for the Fire and Life Safety Educator Award, registration information for Spotlight on Public Education, the two-day NFPA Conference & Expo session, and tools at your disposal for raising awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide.

The NFPA Public Education Division would like to express best wishes for a happy retirement to three leaders in the fire and life safety community who have significantly impacted lives and contributed their time and passion to the work of NFPA.

Marsha Giesler—Downers Grove (IL) Fire Department Public Education Officer Giesler has been a tireless advocate for fire safety education. She is known for her creativity in developing best practices and an ability to mentor and inspire others. She is the author of Fire and Life Safety Educator, published by Delmar Cengage Learning, which has been called a comprehensive and reader-friendly guide. In 2012 Giesler was chosen the NFPA Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year. She implemented fire safety education programs using NFPA materials for more than 25 years.

Sandy Facinoli—Chief of Prevention and Information/National Fire Programs, U.S. Fire Administration/FEMA/DHS, Facinoli headed a branch that is responsible for leading the Fire is Everyone’s Fight national initiative involving partners from across the United States. Her team managed the USFA website and social media program, the National Emergency Training Center Library, the Publications and Media Production Centers, and the national network of fire marshals PARADE. Under Facinoli, USFA has worked closely with NFPA for years, co-branding social media messaging, and participating on NFPA’s Educational Messages Advisory Committee.

Dana Catts—For Seattle Fire Department Public Education Program Specialist Dana Catts, her passion for community outreach, youth engagement and education, and vulnerable or at-risk youth spans more than 30 years. Youth firesetting intervention, Seattle school fire safety programs, 4-H Youth Challenge course facilitation, youth forest restoration and education projects with Seattle Parks & Green Seattle Partnership, and camp direction for Earthkeepers Day Camp at Carkeek Park are several recent examples of her commitment towards youth in Seattle. With a belief in strong community partners, Dana strove to connect with others in helping provide important services and education to all members of the community. She served on the NFPA Urban Advisory Group.

Barry holding Sparky Statue at awards ceremonyHave you ever gotten a phone call with news so exciting that you had to sit down after listening to what the caller had to say? That’s what happened last year when Kingsport (TN) Fire Department Public Education Officer Barry Brickey got the call that he’d been chosen the 2019 NFPA Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year.

“I knew there might be a chance of being chosen, but I wasn’t sure,” he says. “When I received the call, I was very excited. I quickly told our fire marshal.”

He didn’t stop there. He got on the phone with his biggest cheerleaders.

Barry and daughter“My wife had me on speaker phone; my daughter yelled, ‘We’re going to San Antonio!’ Of course they were all excited for me. I even got a quick monotone “yeah” from my teenage son.”

At the time, Brickey had no idea that the awards gala at NFPA Conference in San Antonio, Texas, the honorarium, and a donation to his fire department to support public education activities, was only the beginning of the recognition he would receive for his work in the community.

“There were so many emails, messages and in-person congratulations, I lost count,” he says. “I was recognized at the City of Kingsport’s Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting and received a proclamation from the Governor of Tennessee that was presented by the state fire marshal’s office and many of our elected state officials. All of Barry and family and NFPA CEO Jim Pauleythe local media outlets came to do stories. But some of the best [acknowledgments] were the notes and congratulations from kids and parents who have taken part in our fire and life safety presentations.”

Brickey adds that becoming Educator of the Year has helped to enhance his work in public education. He encourages all public educators to apply for the award.

“I have been able to speak to groups in more places and have learned a lot from others in the Community Risk Reduction [arena]. Being able to attend the NFPA Conference and other conferences has increased my knowledge and encouraged me to look for new ways to reach the public.”

The application deadline is March 6th.

Flames Graphic and textBurn Awareness Week is being observed this first full week of February. It’s designed to provide an opportunity for burn, fire and life safety educators to unite in sharing burn prevention information in their communities. NFPA has joined forces with the American Burn Association to increase awareness among the general population of the frequency and causes of burn injury and advances in and sources of burn care available these days.

The theme for the 2020 National Burn Awareness Week is Contact Burns – Hot Surfaces Damage Skin! The American Burn Association and NFPA provide tips for avoiding contact burns.

  • Always use oven mitts to remove hot items from the stove or microwave
  • Have a kid-free zone of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
  • Never hold a child while you cook, drink a hot liquid or carry foods or liquids.
  • Keep pets off cooking surfaces and nearby countertops
  • Supervise children when using a wood or oil stove or other space heater.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
  • Always use a metal or heat-tempered glass screen on a fireplace and keep it in place.
  • Never leave a lit fire pot, personal fireplace, or torch unattended.

Cooking toolkit coverSkin making contact with hair appliance tools, such as curling irons, and hot pavement or sand can also lead to contact burns. 

The NFPA community toolkit on cooking safety has a number of resources safety educators can use to reach the public, including a PowerPoint presentation on how to prevent cooking fires, scalds, and burns; an easy-to-read handout on how to be fire safe in the kitchen; talking points; fact sheets; videos; and community outreach ideas.


FEMA has released the results of the 2019 National Household Survey (NHS) and survey data are available on OpenFEMA.


The National Household Survey tracks progress in personal disaster preparedness through investigation of the American public's preparedness actions, attitudes, and motivations. FEMA administers the survey in English and Spanish via landline and mobile telephone to a random sampling of approximately 5,000 adult respondents. The survey includes a nationally representative sample as well as hazard-specific oversamples which may include earthquake, flood, wildfire, hurricane, winter storm, extreme heat, tornado, and urban event.


With the release of the raw data, emergency managers, academics and researchers can dig deeper into these findings. With the data on OpenFEMA, you can ask your own questions and analyze the data that is most important to your work and the communities you serve. For example:

  • If you are a local emergency manager or provide disaster preparedness outreach, you can use the demographic information to better understand the needs of your community—who is likely to have seen information about how to prepare? Who is most likely to act? Least likely?
  • You can also gain insight into people’s emergency planning habits. For example, how many people plan to check on neighbors if there is a tornado? How many plan to use public transportation to evacuate if a hurricane is coming? And which groups of people are most financially prepared for an emergency with savings and adequate insurance?
  • If you’re designing new programs or want to improve current outreach, you can use the data to choose the most effective methods for your community based on hazard risk and demographics. Then, use the data to create visualizations for grant applications and reports.


The NHS datasets on OpenFEMA are meant to be used by community stakeholders for analysis and creation of metrics and other materials to better assist them in preparing individuals and communities for disasters. Datasets include the raw, unedited data. As such, users should plan to clean the data as needed prior to analysis. The datasets also include an executive summary, the survey instrument, raw weighted and unweighted data, aggregated data analysis, and a codebook with weighting overviews. In addition to the 2018 data, 2017 data is also available on OpenFEMA.


Users of the NHS datasets should also cite the date the data was accessed or retrieved from In addition, users must clearly state that "FEMA and the Federal Government cannot vouch for the data or analyses derived from these data after the data have been retrieved from the Agency's website.”

Front page of lesson planMassachusetts high school students are imitating a dangerous viral video circulating on the social media app Tik Tok that has firefighters issuing an alert. According to news reports it’s called “the outlet challenge” and involves partially inserting the plug of a cellphone charger into an outlet, and then sliding a penny down the wall onto the exposed prongs. The results include sparks and damage to the electrical system. In some cases, fires, injuries, and even electrocution could result. Massachusetts fire officials, the police, and school officials are working together to investigate the incidents.

First page of lesson planNFPA urges the public not to participate in the #outletchallenge and to review educational information on using electrical outlets, and electricity in general, safely.

In addition to the extensive electrical safety materials offered in the Electrical Community Toolkit, NFPA provides a 60-minute lesson plan, The Fire Challenge, A Conversation with Parents and Caretakers, to help open a dialogue to discourage risky behavior, and the lesson plan, Making Safe & Responsible Choices, specifically for young adolescents. Both lesson plans can be valuable resources for fire departments, parents and caregivers.

The NFPA Educational Messages Desk Reference is up for revision. Download our commenCover of Desk Referencet form and submit your suggestions by February 28.

The document details the messages used in NFPA educational programs, curricula, and handouts and provides the fire service and fire and life safety educators with consistent language to use with the public.

Sparky bronze-plated statue

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 2019 from a fire department association, community organization, or government entity will be considered.

The deadline is March 6, 2020 to be considered for this prestigious award that includes a monetary prize, travel, and registration to attend NFPA Conference & Expo for an awards ceremony, where the recipient will receive the Sparky statuette.

Illustration of a fireplace

There’s nothing better than that cozy feeling that our heaters provide us with when the weather is cold and harsh. As we chase away the chill in our homes with our heating systems, let’s not forget the risks involved. Heating equipment is a leading cause of fires in U.S. homes. These homes include one- and two-family homes and apartments. Nearly half of all home heating fires occur in December, January, and February. Space heaters, including wood stoves, account for the overwhelming majority of fatal and non-fatal injuries in home heating fires.

Here are some tips for keeping safe.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet (one-metre) away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable heater.
  • Have a three foot (one-metre) “Kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

You can find more tips and resources in the heating section of the NFPA website.

An unfortunate incident that could have become a tragedy involving the “Scary Movie” actress Anna Faris underscores the importance of having working carbon monoxide alarms. She and her family had a close call on Thanksgiving Day. According to news reports, they were in a Lake Tahoe rental home when two family members became sick. What they thought was altitude sickness turned about to be carbon monoxide poisoning.

Multiple fire departments in the Lake Tahoe area responded. Nine people were checked out and treated at the house. Two additional people were taken to the hospital. It’s unclear whether Faris was among the hospitalized.

Faris took to twitter to express thanks.

"I'm not quite sure how to express gratitude to the north Lake Tahoe fire department-we were saved from carbon monoxide-it's a stupidly dramatic story but I'm feeling very fortunate," Faris wrote.

Authorities say the rental did not have carbon monoxide alarms. Carbon monoxide is a gas you cannot see, taste, or smell. Often called “the invisible killer,” it is created when fossil fuels don’t burn completely. It can kill people and pets.

It is important for private homes, as well as short-term rentals, to have working carbon monoxide alarms outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations required by laws, codes, or standards. Short-term rentals may not be strongly regulated. Consumers are advised to advocate for themselves.

NFPA’s Safety Away from Home and Take Safety With You infographics provide information relating to carbon monoxide safety for both the renter and the consumer renting the property.

Headshot of Tammy PeavyThe NFPA Public Education Network is made up of fire and life safety education representatives for every state and province who disseminate NFPA information to fire safety educators throughout their state or province. Periodically, NFPA will be highlighting success stories from network members. In this post we feature Fire Safety Educator, Tammy Peavy, of the Mississippi State Fire Marshal’s Office. Over the years, Tammy has written successful Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Fire Prevention and Safety grants that allowed for the purchase and distribution to fire departments and community organizations of more than 120,000 long-life smoke alarms and 4,100 alert devices for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Tammy is also the chair of the NFPA Education Member Section.


Mississippi has long had one of the highest fire death rates in the nation. Peavy says the state’s smoke alarm installation program has been highly effective in tackling the home fire problem.

“We saw a great decrease in our fire fatalities once it was up and running,” she said. She added that partnerships play a critical role in the success of the program. These include collaborations with state agencies and community organizations.

“We partner with people already going into the homes with other programs, for instance, our department of health goes in for lead poisoning prevention and there’s the weatherization program. They do installations and activations while they’re there.”

Peavy says training each fire department/organization individually is most effective, providing incentives for installers, such as a fuel stipend or tools, and allowing the installer organization or agency to make the program their own. Her office provides guidelines for installation and proper documentation, but allows them to publicize as they feel best suited their department.

NFPA’s smoke alarm installation guide can help you plan and implement a successful smoke alarm installation program.



Two-images. One of reporter in turnout gear speaking and the other of a firefighter fighting the fire

A national morning television show is highlighting the importance of fire safety during the holiday season. Days before Thanksgiving, the peak day of the year for home cooking fires, Good Morning America featured a live fire safety demonstration at the Delaware County Emergency Training Center conducted by Underwriters Laboratories. The furnished house used in the demonstration was filled with synthetic furniture. On cue, a living room couch was lit. The reporter gave a narration of the conditions in the house once the fire began to grow and the measures that needed to be taken to escape safely. The demonstration reinforced a number of key fire safety messages:

Working smoke alarms are essential: You may only have minutes to escape once the smoke alarm sounds. Smoke alarms should be installed inside and outside of each sleeping room and on every level of the home.

Plan ahead for your escape: Draw a map of each level of the home showing all doors and windows. Practice the plan at least twice a year, day and night and with overnight guests.

Get low and go: In a real emergency, get low and go under the smoke quickly to your outside meeting place.

Know your emergency number: Make sure everyone in the home knows how to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number from a cell phone outdoors at the safe meeting place or from a trusted neighbor’s phone.

Protect yourself from carbon monoxide: Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless and colorless gas created when fuels burn incompletely. Install CO alarms in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations when required by applicable laws, codes, or standards.

Closing the door: A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.

As communities prepare for Thanksgiving and other days of note in the coming months, NFPA’s holiday safety materials, and safety tips sheets on more than 60 topics will be useful in helping to curb fire-related mishaps.

Thanksgiving spread of food

More than three times as many home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day than on a typical day of the year, according to the latest U.S. Home Cooking Fires Report recently released by NFPA. The report shows that there were 1,600 reported fires on Thanksgiving in 2017, reflecting a 238 percent increase over the daily average. Unattended cooking was the leading cause of these fires.

NFPA offers a number of tips and recommendations for cooking safely this Thanksgiving:

•Never leave the kitchen while cooking on the stovetop. Some types of cooking, especially those that involve frying or sautéing with oil, need continuous attention.

•When cooking a turkey, stay in your home and check on it regularly.

•Make use of timers to keep track of cooking times, particularly for foods that require longer cook times.

•Keep things that can catch fire like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food wrappers, and towels at least three feet away from the cooking area.

•Avoid long sleeves and hanging fabrics that could come in contact with a heat source.

•Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water or use a fire extinguisher on the fire.

•For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. Only open the door once you’re confident the fire is completely out, standing to the side as you do. If you have any doubts or concerns, contact the fire department for assistance.

•Keep children at least three feet away from the stove. Kids should also stay away from hot foods and liquids, as steam or splash from these items could cause severe burns.

The Thanksgiving section of the NFPA website offers these and other tips for keeping fire safety top of mind during the holiday.

The staff, instructors and aides of the Delaware State Fire School (DSFS) had a busy schedule during Fire Prevention Week season. Beginning in early September through early November it is estimated that DSFS operated 115 programs in fire safety, school tours, injury prevention, and displays. Programs took place across the state. Program administrators Mike Lowe and Kim O’Malley sincerely thank the instructors and aides as well as the fire safety officials of the individual fire departments and organizations that made Fire Prevention Week 2019 a success.

Entrance to theme park

This past week, one of my best girlfriends and I flew to Florida and spent an evening at Universal Studios Orlando Resort at Halloween Horror Nights. The Halloween-themed extravaganza included haunted houses, scare zones, and live entertainment featuring many Universal Studios characters. As Joyce and I strolled through the park, zombies, the walking dead, nurses covered in blood, and creatures wielding chain saws leaped out at us through the fog. It was fabulous.

Wanting more frights, we entered a haunted house–actually, a sound stage converted into the setting of the spine-tingling 2019 Jordan Peele horror movie, Us–in which a family arrives at their summer home and is attacked by a group of menacing doppelgangers. Once we and dozens of others entered the sound stage’s darkened labyrinth, objects and people jumped out at us and sound effect screams and growls gave our eardrums a workout.

I wasn’t too frightened, but more concerned about safety. I wondered what would happen if somebody tripped over the “dead bodies” if they got too close to them or lost their balance because they were startled by the creatures. If someone panicked, could there be a stampede?

I breathed easier when I thought back to the attendant outside of the attraction who used a counter device to click off how many of us were allowed to go in at a time. And once in the house I was relieved that at every corner, in every room, there was a theme park employee pointing us in the right direction and monitoring the activity in case problems arose.

Many of us will experience Halloween this evening, either in costume, or giving treats. Let’s not forget about potential tripping hazards as outlined in our Be Safe Halloween tip sheet.

  • Remember to keep exits clear of decorations so nothing blocks escape routes.
  • Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costumes.
  • If children wear masks, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can see out.

If you participate in this spook-tacular observance, have a happy Halloween that is frightful, fun and free of tripping hazards.


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