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86 Posts authored by: susanmckelvey Employee

With COVID-19 continuing to place limitations on social activities and engagements, people may increasingly turn to grilling, fire pits, and other at-home outdoor activities this summer, which presents an increased risk of associated fires. Here are five key reminders and guidelines for safely enjoying these activities:

 

Make sure your gas grill is working properly

  • Leaks or breaks are primarily a problem with gas grills. Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year.
  • If your grill has a gas leak detected by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off both the gas tank and the grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and do not move it. If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 5 minutes before re-lighting it.

 

Never leave equipment unattended

  • Make sure to closely monitor food cooking on the grill.
  • Turn the grill off promptly when you’re done cooking, and let it cool completely before returning it to its original location.
  • For campfires, fire pits, and chimineas, always have a hose, bucket of water, or shovel and dirt or sand nearby, and make sure the fire is completely out before going to sleep or leaving the area.

 

Keep equipment a safe distance from things that can burn

  • Place your grill well away (at least 3 feet) from anything that can burn, including deck railings and overhanging branches; also keep them out from under eaves.
  • Keep portable grills a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.
  • Keep children and pets well away from any type of equipment in use.
  • In areas where campfires are permitted, they must be at least 25 feet away from any structure and anything that can burn. Also make sure to clear away dry leaves and sticks, overhanging low branches and shrubs.

 

Use fuel and fire starters properly

  • If you use a starter fluid to ignite charcoals, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • Never use gasoline or other flammable or combustible liquids on firepits, chimineas, or campfires.
  • For electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire, make sure the extension cord you are using is designed for outdoor use.

 

If a fire breaks out, call the fire department

  • For any type of outdoor fire that can’t be quickly and effectively extinguished, call the fire department immediately for assistance.

 

While outdoor, fuel-based equipment like grills, fire pits, and campfires do present potential fire hazards, by following basic precautions and guidelines, these risks can be minimized.

NFPA has announced Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen as the theme for Fire Prevention Week, October 4-10, 2020. NFPA’s focus on cooking fire safety comes in response to home cooking fires representing the leading cause of U.S. home fires, with nearly half (49 percent) of all home fires involving cooking equipment; unattended cooking is the leading cause of these fires.

 

While cooking continues to be a major contributor to the home fire problem, the vast majority of these fires are highly preventable. This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign works to better educate the public about where potential cooking hazards exist and basic but critical ways to prevent them.

 

This year’s focus on cooking safety is particularly timely, as the public may continue to avoid restaurants for some time and opt instead to do more cooking and entertaining at home, the potential for home cooking fires will likely increase as well.

 

Key messages around this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen” will include the following:

  • Keep a close eye on what you’re cooking; never leave cooking unattended
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — at least three feet away from your stovetop.
  • Be on alert. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.

 

For more information about Fire Prevention Week and this year’s theme, “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen,” along with a wealth of resources to help promote the campaign locally, visit fpw.org.

 

 

NFPA has announced Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen as the theme for Fire Prevention Week, October 4-10, 2020. NFPA’s focus on cooking fire safety comes in response to home cooking fires representing the leading cause of U.S. home fires, with nearly half (49 percent) of all home fires involving cooking equipment; unattended cooking is the leading cause of these fires.

 

While cooking continues to be a major contributor to the home fire problem, the vast majority of these fires are highly preventable. This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign works to better educate the public about where potential cooking hazards exist and basic but critical ways to prevent them.

 

This year’s focus on cooking safety is particularly timely, as the public may continue to avoid restaurants for some time and opt instead to do more cooking and entertaining at home, the potential for home cooking fires will likely increase as well.

 

Key messages around this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen” will include the following:

  • Keep a close eye on what you’re cooking; never leave cooking unattended
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — at least three feet away from your stovetop.
  • Be on alert. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.

 

For more information about Fire Prevention Week and this year’s theme, “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen,” along with a wealth of resources to help promote the campaign locally, visit fpw.org.

 

 

National Electrical Safety Month is an annual campaign sponsored by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) that raises awareness of potential home electrical hazards, the importance of electrical fire safety, and the safety of electrical and non-electrical workers. NFPA actively supports this campaign each May, recognizing that electricity helps make our lives easier, but its potential for shock and fire-related hazards are often taken for granted.

 

Computers, kitchen appliances, heaters, fans, air conditioners – any equipment powered by electricity has the potential to be involved in an electrical fire. As the vast majority of people remain at home in response to the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of working professionals and students have left their offices and classrooms to continue their work from home. This means more family members are now online, watching television, and using appliances all at once, and for longer periods of time.

 

During National Electrical Safety Month, NFPA and ESFI are reinforcing that simple steps can greatly reduce electrical hazards, such as learning the proper way to plug in appliances, safeguarding electrical outlets in the home, and more. Here are safety tips and guidelines we’re asking residents to follow:

 

  • Check electrical cords to make sure they are not running across doorways or under carpets where they can get damaged.
  • Never put more than one plug in each receptacle. An outlet may have one or more receptacles – one to receive each plug.
  • Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage in a lamp or other light fixture. Check the sticker on the lamp to determine the maximum wattage light bulb to use.

 

Residents should also have all electrical work done by a qualified electrician, including scheduling electrical inspections when buying or remodeling a home. Even during this time of social distancing, electricians are still working and considered essential businesses in every state that has issued a shelter-in-place order. It is critical that residents call the utility company or a qualified electrician immediately if they experience any of the following:

 

  • Frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers
  • A tingling feeling when touching an electrical appliance
  • Discolored or warm wall outlets
  • A burning or rubbery smell coming from an appliance
  • Flickering or dimming lights
  • Sparks from an outlet

 

Electricity is a leading cause of workplace injuries and fatalities. Consequently, during National Electrical Safety Month, electrical and non-electrical workers are encouraged to participate in safety training programs that focus on personal protective equipment, safe work practices, and risk assessments to help avoid electrical injuries, deaths, and OSHA violations, as outlined in NFPA 70, National Electrical Code (NEC) and NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace.

 

For additional tips and resources including infographics, fact sheets, and videos about electrical fire safety, visit NFPA’s electrical safety webpage.

 

Information about electrical codes and standards, and worker safety training, can be found on NFPA’s electrical solutions webpage.

 

As all of us continue to navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA’s response to the coronavirus, please visit our webpage.

Image Source: Snohomish County Fire District 7, Facebook

 

According to a Firefighter Nation article and other local news reports, a young girl in Monroe, Washington recently hid in a toy chest in response to a home fire. Fortunately, Snohomish County Fire District 7 firefighters found her in time to get her out safely. However, this incident underscores the fact that everyone - adults and children alike – needs to learn how to plan for a home fire so they can get out quickly and safely.

 

A home plan that’s been developed and practiced by all members of a household ensures that everyone has the skill-set and know-how to protect themselves in a fire situation. Even children as young as three and four years old can be empowered by these efforts to take swift, appropriate action.

 

Home escape planning and practice also helps parents and caregivers figure out in advance who they’re responsible for assisting in a fire situation, including young children, older adults and/or other household members who need assistance escaping safely. In absence of advance planning, people tend to make decisions that inhibit or even eliminate their ability to escape safely.

 

As the vast majority of people continue to stay at home during the current COVID-19 pandemic, this challenging time presents local fire departments and safety officials with a unique opportunity to encourage households to develop a home escape plan and practice it. Along with being a family activity that gets everyone working together, it’s an effort that has potentially life-saving impact. And where the risk of home fires remains higher while people continue to stay at home (and continue to do more cooking and heating, and use electrical equipment), being adequately prepared in the event of a home fire is more important than ever.

 

Families with young children are a particularly captive audience right now, as they work to keep everyone busy, engaged and learning – they’re actively seeking out games, activities and lesson plans. Take advantage of NFPA’s free educational resources, many of which can be easily shared with your communities on social media, emails, websites and other online platforms. Steps like these can prevent the dangerous actions people often take when they aren’t properly educated about what to do in fire situation.

 

As the public largely remains at home in response to COVID-19, NFPA is urging everyone to use added caution around home fire safety.

 

Cooking, heating, and electrical equipment are among the leading causes of home fires each year. As people continue to stay at home and engage in these activities, it’s critical that they recognize where potential hazards exist and what can be done to prevent them.

 

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and is responsible for nearly half (49 percent) of all reported home fires involving cooking equipment. Moreover, unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires, meaning that home cooking fires occur most often when people aren’t keeping a close eye on what they’re cooking.

 

As many households are now dealing with unusual routines and out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, such as kids home from school and parents working from home, there’s greater potential for distracted cooking.

 

NFPA statistic show that heating equipment is the second-leading cause of home fires, resulting in an average of 52,050 home fires each year. Electrical distribution or lighting equipment is involved in an annual average of 35,100 home fires.

 

For much of the country, heating systems are still in use and in many cases, for more hours than usual. In addition, with everyone at home, people may be using the same outlets to charge phones, laptops and other digital equipment, which also presents a fire hazard.

 

With these concerns in mind, NFPA reminds the public to use best practices for staying fire-safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond:

 

Cooking

  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home 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.
  • Make sure all handles are turned inward, away from where someone can grab a hot handle or tip a pan over.
  • Be on alert. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, refrain from using the stove or stovetop.
  • If you have young children in your home, create a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet (1 meter) around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

 

Heating

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three-feet (one meter) away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot (one meter) “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.

 

Electrical

  • When charging smartphones and other digital devices, only use the charging cord that came with the device.
  • Do not charge a device under your pillow, on your bed or on a couch.
  • Only use one heat-producing appliance (such as a coffee maker, toaster, space heater, etc.) plugged into a receptacle outlet at a time.
  • Major appliances (refrigerators, dryers, washers, stoves, air conditioners, microwave ovens, etc.) should be plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet. Extension cords and plug strips should not be used.
  • Check electrical cords to make sure they are not running across doorways or under carpets. Extension cords are intended for temporary use.
  • Use a light bulb with the right number of watts. There should be a sticker that indicates the right number of watts.

 

In addition, smoke alarms should be located on every level of the home, in each bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. Test them monthly to make sure they’re working. NFPA also strongly encourages households develop and practice a home escape plan to ensure that everyone knows what to do in a fire and can escape quickly and safely.

 

For a wealth of NFPA resources and information on home fire safety, visit www.nfpa.org/Public-Education.

 

The public at large has been urged to stay at home, restaurants and bars are closed, and grocery stores are working diligently to keep shelves stocked. All this points to a lot more cooking in homes than usual in the weeks (or maybe even months) ahead, and that could mean an increase in home cooking fires and burns.

 

Cooking is the leading cause of U.S. home fires year-round, with 49 percent of all reported home fires involving cooking equipment. Moreover, unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires, meaning that home cooking fires occur most often when people aren’t keeping a close eye on what they’re cooking.

 

As many households are now dealing with unusual routines and out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, such as kids home from school and parents working from home, the potential for distracted cooking may increase.

 

All these factors make it critically important to remind communities about best practices for cooking safely.

 

Fortunately, by following some simple safety precautions and guidelines in the kitchen, people can continue to cook safely while doing their part to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home 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.
  • Make sure all handles are turned inward, away from where someone can grab a hot handle or tip a pan over.
  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, refrain from using the stove or stovetop.
  • If you have young children in your home, create a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet (1 meter) around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

 

NFPA offers a wealth of additional information and resources on home cooking safety, including safety tip sheets and other materials that can be shared online and through social media. We encourage you to use these messages to help reduce the risk of cooking fires in your community, and/or feel free to share our social media content posted on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

 

March is here, the days are getting longer, and spring is in our sights. Still, as many of us continue to heat our homes in the final weeks of winter and even into early spring, it’s important to remember that home heating presents potential hazards, including the risk of carbon monoxide.

 

Carbon monoxide is created when fuel (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane) from heating and cooking equipment doesn’t burn properly. It’s often called the silent killer because there are no obvious signs of its presence; CO is invisible, odorless, and colorless, and it can be deadly.

 

In 2016, local fire departments responded to an estimated 79,600 carbon monoxide incidents, or an average of nine such calls per hour. Data from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Center for Health Statistics shows that in 2017, 399 people died of unintentional non-fire carbon monoxide poisoning.

The dangers of CO exposure depend on a number of variables, including the victim's health and activity level. Infants, pregnant women, and people with physical conditions that limit their body's ability to use oxygen (i.e. emphysema, asthma, heart disease) can be more severely affected by lower concentrations of CO than healthy adults would be.

 

A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount of time.

 

One of the best ways to prevent carbon monoxide during the heating season it to have your home heating systems inspected and cleaned, if needed, each year - ideally before the start of the heating season - to make sure they’re working properly.

 

Also, make sure CO alarms are installed in a central location outside each sleeping area, on every level of the home, and in other locations where needed. Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

 

Following are additional CO safety tips and recommendations:

  • If you have been exposed to CO, move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel.
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
  • A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
  • Only use gas or charcoal grills outside.

 

For additional information and resources on CO, as well as a wealth of fire and life safety safety issues, visit www.nfpa.org/public-education

 

NFPA teamed up with Domino’s yesterday to kick off our joint Fire Prevention Week program in coordination with the Flint Fire Department. Sixty-five first graders from a local elementary school in Flint, Michigan were invited to the station, where they learned about key home escape planning and practice messages highlighted in this year’s campaign, "Not every hero wears a cape. Plan and practice your escape.”  The students were also treated to a visit from Sparky the Fire Dog and a pizza party.

 

A huge thanks to the Flint Fire Department for all their help and enthusiasm in support of this year’s program – as always, they did an amazing job helping make the event a true success. Also, thank you to all the local Domino's and fire departments nationwide teaming up to bring the program to life in their communities. Participation continues to grow each year, which reflects its fun, engaging approach to educating people about basic but critical home fire safety messages.

 

Here's how Domino's Fire Prevention Week program works: Customers who place an order from participating Domino's stores during Fire Prevention Week, October 6-12, are randomly selected to receive their delivery from the local fire department, who will conduct a smoke alarm check in the customer's home. If the smoke alarms in the home are working, the delivery is free. If they're not working, the firefighters will replace the batteries or install fully-functioning

alarms.

 

Thanks to all the fire departments that signed up this August to participate in Domino’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, "Not every hero wears a cape. Plan and practice your escape!," October 6 - 12, 2019. All departments were automatically entered into a sweepstakes to receive an “FPW in a Box 300” package. Domino’s, who annually sponsors the contest, has officially announced the three randomly selected winners. Here they are:

 

Kimberly Cisneros

San Marcos Fire Department

San Marcos, TX

 

Caroline Kusher

Green Acres Station #10

Spokane Valley, WA

 

Janet Harty

Longmont Fire Station 5

Longmont, CO 

 

Congratulations to all of you, and best of luck implementing Fire Prevention Week in your communities this October! You will be receiving your FPW in a Box packages shortly.

 

To all fire departments: Even though the contest is over, you can still sign up to participate in the Domino’s Fire Prevention Week programhttps://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Outreach/Partners-in-safety/Dominos-Pizza. Please contact Danielle Bulger at to get started and for more information.

As I was driving home last night, I was a little surprised to see how many homes still have Christmas trees inside. I get it – it’s tough to say goodbye to the season and pack away the decorations. But there’s good reason to part ways with your Christmas tree once the holidays are over: One-third (33 percent) of U.S. home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January.


Christmas trees are combustible items that become increasingly flammable as they continue to dry. The longer a tree is in the home, the more of a fire hazard it becomes. Sure, all Christmas trees can burn, but a dried out tree can become engulfed in flames in a matter of seconds. The tragic Christmas tree fires that have occurred in recent years, which have resulted in deadly consequences for multiple family members, including young children, gravely bare this out.


NFPA statistics show that Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they do occur, they’re much more likely to be serious. On annual average, one of every 45 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to one death per 139 total reported home structure fires.

 

NFPA recommends using the local community’s recycling program for tree disposal, if possible; trees should not be put in the garage or left outside. We also offer these tips for safely removing lighting and decorations and storing them properly to ensure that they’re in good condition the following season:

 

  • Use the gripping area on the plug when unplugging electrical decorations. Never pull the cord to unplug any device from an electrical outlet, as this can harm the wire and insulation of the cord, increasing the risk for shock or electrical fire.
  • As you pack up light strings, inspect each line for damage, throwing out any sets that have loose connections, broken sockets or cracked or bare wires.
  • Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags, or wrap them around a piece of cardboard.
  • Store electrical decorations in a dry place away from children and pets where they will not be damaged by water or dampness.

 

For more information on home fire safety all winter long, visit “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires,” a winter safety campaign NFPA promotes annually with the U.S. Fire Administration.

 

How do the public's beliefs and attitudes toward health shape their behaviors? This recent webinar hosted by Andrea Vastis, senior director of public education at NFPA, reviews the basics of how people perceive their risk to fire and other health and safety issues, and how they take action (or not) based on those perceptions.

 

In particular, the webinar addresses:

  • how people assess and navigate risk
  • how you can engage audiences in ways that motivate them to make healthy/safe choices
  • how to manage frustration that sometimes comes from trying to motivate people to change their ways

 

The full webinar also addresses how fire and community service personnel can use simple motivational interviewing techniques to support positive change. It will be available to registered Xchange users at no cost for the next 30 days. Make sure to watch it!

 

Thanks to all the fire departments that signed up this August to participate in Domino’s Fire Prevention Week program. All departments were automatically entered into a sweepstakes to receive an “FPW in a Box 300” package. Domino’s, who annually sponsors the contest, has officially announced the three randomly selected winners:

 

Texarkana Fire Department
Chris Black
Texarkana, TX 

Salisbury Fire Department
Kimberly Boling
Salisbury, NC 

South Elgin Fire District
Rich Stumbaugh
South Elgin, IL 

 

Congratulations to all of you, and best of luck implementing Fire Prevention Week in your communities this October! You will be receiving your FPW in a Box packages shortly.

 

To all fire departments: Even though the contest is over, you can still sign up to participate in the Domino’s Fire Prevention Week program. Please contact Danielle Bulger at dani.bulger@dominos.com to get started and for more information.

 

Great communication requires great tools: a message; a sender; a receiver; the ability to code and encode information; and a response. How do fire departments fit all that into a tweet, an infographic, a press release, or an ad?


Meredith Hawes, a regional education specialist at NFPA, explains how in the “ABCs of Educational Messages,” a webinar she recently hosted. During the presentation, Hawes walks through the communication process, providing strategies for targeting specific audiences and refining messaging based on community risk reduction, demographics, cultural factors, and local needs and circumstances.


This webinar is an extremely helpful tool for promoting Fire Prevention Week, October 7-13, and the messages behind this year's theme, "Look. Listen Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere." As the campaign fast approaches, we encourage you to check the webinar out – it’s available to NFPA Xchange users at no cost for the next 30 days!

 

If you’re looking to weave fire safety into your holiday celebrations, consider “Sparky, Our Favorite Fire Dog”! Sung to the tune of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the song was created by Marty Ahrens, NFPA's senior manager of data and analytics. She sang the jingle earlier this week with her fellow NFPA “Fire Choir” members - a group of NFPA staff that performs holiday songs at our Quincy headquarters each year.

 

Here are the lyrics for your holiday singing pleasure:

 

Sparky, our favorite fire dog

Has a cold and wet black nose.
To keep us safe from fire
We should learn the things he knows.

 

Smoke alarms in the bedroom
Wake you up if there’s a fire.
Without that early warning,
Consequences could be dire.

 

“Have to have an escape plan.”
Sparky went on to say,
“Two ways out of every room
Can prevent a terrible doom.”

 

Put his words into practice.
Find a meeting place by a tree.
With Sparky, our favorite fire dog,
We make fire history!

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