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              Safety Source

              Firefighter couple from CO

              Deadly carbon monoxide incident involving married couple of Colorado firefighters reinforces importance of adequate detection during winter

              Above: Central City Fire Lt. Cody Allen, 29, and his wife, volunteer Firefighter Shelby Nation Allen, 27, were found unresponsive in their Central City, CO home, according to Gilpin County Sheriff's Office officials. A married couple of Colorado firefighters died last week in their home from accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, according to local reports, although the source of the carbon monoxide remained under investigation at the time of reporting. This incident serves as a tragic reminder about the potentially life-saving value of CO alarms, particularly because carbon monoxide is invisible, odorless, and colorless, making it difficult or even impossible to detect. CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area, on every level of the home, and in other locations where needed. The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases during the heating season, in part because carbon monoxide is created when fuel from heating equipment (typically gas, propane, or oil) doesn't burn properly. To be help reduce the risk of a heating related CO incident, home heating systems should be inspected and cleaned, if necessary, by a qualified professional before the start of the heating season. CO poisoning and other winter fire hazards are addressed in our Put a Freeze on Winter Fires campaign with the U.S. Fire Administration, which provides a wealth of resources for reducing the risk of home heating fires and related hazards this season. Also, make sure to check out our carbon monoxide safety tips and other resources that can be shared with your community.
              Christmas tree decorating

              Christmas Trees Present Potential Fire Hazards; Enjoy Them with Care and Caution

              For many households, Christmas trees are as much a staple of the holiday season as eggnog on grocery store shelves. But for all the joy they bring, it’s important to remember that Christmas trees are large combustible items that present potential fire hazards in the home. Fire departments responded to an annual average of 160 home structure fires caused by Christmas trees between 2014 and 2018, resulting in $10 million in direct property damage. Fires involving fresh Christmas trees tend to be more common than those involving artificial ones. Fresh Christmas trees dry out over time, making them more flammable the longer they’re in the home. As this video shows, a dried-out Christmas tree will burn much more quickly than a well-watered tree: Our Christmas tree safety tip sheet offers tips and recommendations for safely enjoying Christmas trees this season. Following are some of the key reminders: For a fresh tree, cut 2” from the base of the trunk before placing it in the stand. Add water to the tree stand daily to keep them well hydrated. Trees should be placed at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit, such as a door or window. Ensure that decorative lights are in good working order and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Also, NFPA’s new Christmas tree report is now available, providing the latest statistics on Christmas tree fires in U.S. homes, including these key findings (which reflect annual averages between 2014 and 2018):  Christmas tree fires are more common during the hours when people are awake, peaking between 6 p.m. and midnight. More than two of every five home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den. Electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in almost one-third (thirty-one percent) of Christmas tree fires. In more than one-fifth (22 percent) of Christmas tree fires, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree. For additional information and resources on how to safely deck the halls this holiday season that can be shared online, through social media and/or as printouts, visit our winter holidays page.
              Reverse drive by for FPW

              Creative Approaches to Fire Safety Education can Help Communities Stay Safe During the Holidays—a Busy Time for Home Fires

              The holiday season is underway, and COVID-19 continues to demand ingenuity in how communities share important safety messages. Across the nation, fire departments and public educators have met the challenge head-on, using a variety of new methods to further education and outreach efforts. Fire Prevention Week 2020 may be behind us, but fire hazards have no holiday break. These next few months are a peak time for home fires, so below we will highlight a few lessons we learned from professionals in the field, so that safety remains a priority during the holidays. Alsip Fire Department typically holds an open house during Fire Prevention Week to disseminate learning materials, but Chief Tom Styczynski and his team came up with a “Fire Prevention Week Reverse Drive-By” to accommodate the current circumstances. Residents could drive into the parking lot to receive a goodie bag full of Fire Prevention Week resources from members of the department. Springfield Fire Department adapted to the demands of COVID-19 with a virtual approach. In a normal year, they visit the 35 public elementary schools in the area, reaching over 11,000 students and teachers with educational messages. This year, the city created a number of fire and life safety animated videos for elementary students that were made to be shared in the classroom or at home. Through the videos, local firefighters taught lessons on home hazards, cooking safety, and other topics to ensure a year of important safety messaging wouldn’t be lost due to the constraints of a virtual environment. Duxbury Fire Department also took advantage of technology to continue outreach and education efforts despite these unusual times. Jessica Laaper produced an interactive video tour for the department, giving them a greater ability to engage the community and teach them about what goes on inside. Much like Google Maps street view, virtual visitors could explore the department and click on equipment, learning all about the tools the department uses to keep them safe. We also saw an FPW poster contest hosted by Nassau Bay Volunteer Fire Department, live virtual cooking safety lessons taught by the Green Bay Metro Fire Department, and more. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg in the kinds of creativity that educators and first responders are harnessing to inform community members about the ongoing need for fire safety, even when the pandemic has limited or put many usual events on pause. The cold weather months mean an increase in cooking and using heating equipment, which recent research tells us are the leading causes of home structure fires. Public educators and fire departments can explore some of the tactics explored above and other out-of-the-box thinking to remind your community that fire safety is a year-round commitment. Download this winter holiday safety tip sheet for ways to celebrate safely. The Public Education page offers even more resources on how to effectively share safety messages in new ways.
              Thanksgiving with family

              The Day before Thanksgiving is the Second-Leading Day for Home Cooking Fires

              At NFPA, we put a lot of effort to promoting the importance of cooking safety on Thanksgiving Day, which makes sense, considering it’s the peak day of the year for home cooking fires. According to our latest Home Cooking Fires report, 3.5 times as many cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving as an average day. But the day before Thanksgiving deserves attention too, as it serves as the second-leading day for home cooking fires. As fire departments and other safety advocates work to ensure cooking safety in their communities, it’s important to remind everyone that it’s not only Thanksgiving Day that the likelihood of cooking fires spikes. It’s the time many of us spend preparing in advance of the big feast that the risk increases as well. Following are tips and recommendations from NFPA for cooking safely on Thanksgiving and in advance of the holiday as well: 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 or other items in the oven, stay in your home and check on it regularly. Set a timer on your stove or phone 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 away from direct contact with 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 a grease 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 and areas where hot food or drink is being prepared or served. Steam or spills from these items can cause severe burns. Use our Thanksgiving safety tips sheet and other Thanksgiving fire safety resources to help ensure that everyone enjoys a festive, fire-safe holiday.  
              A fire and cup of hot chocolate

              Engaging your Community to Prepare for Winter Fire Safety

              On Monday, November 16, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) hosted a live Facebook event featuring ways for Fire & Life Safety (FLS) Educators to reach their communities with life saving winter fire safety information and resources.  Promoting winter safety isn’t anything new, however the impacts of COVID-19 have created new challenges in connecting with our communities.   Moderated by Michael McLeieer of the Michigan State Firemen’s Association, the event focused on key fire & home safety risks during the winter months and innovative ways to connect communities with education and resources.  From cooking to heating to electrical to candles and decorations, I along with co-panelists Teresa Neal, Fire Program Specialist of the US Fire Administration, and Blaise Harris, Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Rocky Mount Fire Department in North Carolina, answered a variety of questions related to how FLS educators can package and promote fire safety.  “One thing is for sure,” says Harris, “this virtual environment isn’t going anywhere. Even when we are able to be in a room together again, we will still be using technology.”  Getting comfortable and partnering with those who have the skills using the various platforms is key to staying relevant and staying connected.  “Reach out to your day care and pre-schools,” suggests Neal, adding, “this is a great way to send home materials like home safety checklists, home escape planning sheets and other materials.”  While many schools and organizations may be closed to the public, take advantage of what is still operating to partner and use as a vehicle to deliver your educational messages. “Collaborate and learn from each other,” says McLeieer, promoting participation in the Fire Life Safety Educators and Coordinators Facebook Group, an open forum to share, ask, and learn.  Taking advantage of local and national webinars and virtual conferences for professional development will continue to a need and the norm for FLS educators to keep up with a changing world. Other ideas generated from the conversation included: Partnering with your local library to host virtual education sessions and support outreach, Partnering with local take out and deliver services to incorporate educational materials for home safety, Use of all social media platform – YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to both create repetition of messaging and reach a variety of demographics in your community, Use good, credible resources like those from NFPA and USFA to assure up to date, relevant and accurate information, Use the NFPA Educational Messaging Desk Reference A recording of the event is available for those who missed it.  Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and follow NFPA on Twitter, Facebook  and Instagram to keep up with the latest from the Public Education Division at NFPA.

              Keep fire safety top of mind when preparing your feast this Thanksgiving, the peak day for U.S. home cooking fires

              Keep cooking safety top of mind when preparing this year’s Thanksgiving feast! According to our latest Home Cooking Fires report, Thanksgiving was the peak day for U.S. home cooking fires in 2018; the day before Thanksgiving was the second-leading day (tied with Christmas Day). Cooking is the leading cause of U.S. home and home fire injuries year-round, and the second-leading cause of home fire deaths.   Between 2014 and 2018, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 1,630 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day, three and half times an average day. Unattended cooking was by far the leading cause of associated fires and fire deaths.  Thanksgiving often involves cooking multiple dishes at once, which can be particularly tricky with lots of distractions in and around the kitchen. From getting ready for guests and managing family needs to entertaining when everyone arrives – these types of activities make it all too easy to lose track of what’s cooking, and that’s when cooking fires tend to happen. Because of the pandemic, many people will likely choose to celebrate the holiday in smaller groups, which may mean more kitchens being used to cook Thanksgiving meals. Regardless of group size, there will still be lots of the usual cooking and distractions that contribute to a sharp increase in cooking fires on and around Thanksgiving. NFPA offers these tips and recommendations for cooking safely: 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, or other items in the oven, stay in your home and check on it regularly. Set a timer on your stove or phone 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 away from direct contact with 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 a grease 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 and areas where hot food or drink is being prepared or served. Steam or spills from these items can cause severe burns. In addition, NFPA strongly discourages the use of turkey fryers, as these can lead to severe burns, injuries, and property damage. For a safe alternative, NFPA recommends grocery stores, food retailers, and restaurants that sell deep-fried turkey. Share our Thanksgiving safety tip sheet with your community to help minimize the likelihood of home cooking fires and visit our website for additional Thanksgiving statistics and resources.

              String of Tragic New Hampshire Fires Exposes Gaps in Smoke Alarm Protection

              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. 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.
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