AUTHOR: Andrea Vastis

A woman grilling

What’s new in grilling and cooking safety messaging?

Grilling safety and safe use of cooking appliances are part of the updated messaging included in the Cooking chapter of NFPA’s Educational Messages Desk Reference, now in its updated 2020 edition. The desk reference supports Fire & Life Safety (FLS) educators in delivering educational programs that are accurate, consistent, and relevant to their audiences.  New and updated messaging in the Cooking Chapter includes gas grill maintenance, what to do in case of a cooking fire, proper use of electrical cooking equipment, and even updated messaging on the appropriate use of turkey fryers.  As we enter the Spring season with loosening COVID-19 restrictions, and more gatherings and outdoor activity, there is renewed cause for promoting key messages related to cooking and grilling, as these daily activities contribute to the leading causes of home fires and home fire injuries. These types of fires and burns are preventable when taking simple, doable precautions, and these messages need consistent reminders across social media and community education efforts. Fire & burn prevention messages can be delivered in a variety of formats including our 10-minute lesson plans on a variety of topics, which can be delivered in person and via virtual platforms, or by distributing one of the many NFPA's tip sheets at drive through vaccination sites and via local restaurant delivery services. The lesson learned during the pandemic is that FLS educators are super creative in finding ways to reach their communities and the Desk Reference gives them the foundational messaging to support their efforts. The messages within this document are developed and reviewed by the Educational Messaging Advisory Committee (EMAC), a multi-disciplinary group of professionals, with input from a variety of stakeholders. These messages undergo technical review for alignment with codes and standards, are reviewed by national partners, and have universal application across fire & life safety, injury prevention, and public health education professionals. The next updated messages blog will feature new content added as relates to outdoor burning – campfires and fire pits specifically. Thank you for all you do to education and support your community’s health and safety. Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and NFPA on Twitter,  Facebook, and Instagram  to keep up with the latest from the Public Education Division.

Fire safety in your home away from home

NFPA’s Educational Messages Desk Reference, now in its updated 2020 edition, offers Fire and Life Safety (FLS) educators and those involved in injury prevention and public education, a compendium of accurate, relevant and up to date messaging for a multitude fire and burn prevention topics.  Chapter Five, formerly Hotel/Motel Safety, has been updated as Fire Safety Away from Home, to include safety messages for hotel/motel, peer to peer hospitality, motor home/camper/RV, car fire safety, and safety in places of public assembly. Since fire safety code requirements vary by state for such occupancies as hotel/motel, peer to peer hospitality and RV’s, it is vitally important to educate the public to empower them to assure their own and their family’s safety. Chapter Five now includes updated messaging directing people to choose hotel/motels that are protected by smoke and CO alarms, as well as sprinklers, and recommends the use of travel CO alarms for locations without.  Messaging regarding renting peer to peer hospitality homes, which often have fewer rules and codes for fire safety, offers the public considerations for choosing a rental, and key actions to take when staying in these types of properties.  Motor Home, Camper, and RV Safety is another section within Chapter Five to receive updated messaging.  As more people choose motor homes as a vacation option, and these vehicles are increasingly being used as a remote home/work environment, it is critical to remind people to treat these spaces as homes when it comes to fire safety.  New messaging includes assuring everyone knows two ways out/meeting place, safe use of heaters and lanterns, safe cooking practices, assuring smoke and CO alarms are in place and working, and the safe use of nearby campfires. Another key addition to Chapter Five is the inclusion of messaging for Safety in Places of Public Assembly, formerly only found in our related tip sheet.  These messages include assuring everyone has a plan for being separated, an agreed upon meeting place, and situational awareness of all exits. As NFPA enters its 125th anniversary year, we need to remind ourselves of the amazing work done toward our goal of eliminating the loss of life and property from fire, electrical and related hazards.  We also need to assure that we, as fire and life safety professionals, stay up to date with the changing fire safety problems and solutions, and work across our organizations to provide consistent, accurate, and behavior centered messaging for our communities.  Next week I’ll highlight the updates to the Educational Messages Desk Reference as relates to grilling and microwave cooking topics. Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and NFPA on Twitter,  Facebook, and to keep up with the latest from the Public Education Division.
Carbon Monoxide alarm

What’s new in Carbon Monoxide messaging?

NFPA’s Educational Messaging Desk Reference, now in its updated 2020 edition, offers Fire and Life Safety (FLS) educators and those involved in injury prevention and public education, a compendium of accurate, relevant and up to date messaging for a multitude fire and burn prevention topics. New Chapters on Youth Fire Setting and Pet Safety have been added, along with new and updated messaging related to carbon monoxide, vacation rental homes, home escape planning, electrical, and candle safety among others.  The messages are the result of input from a variety of stakeholders, reviewed by technical experts, and developed by a multi-disciplinary group of professionals to assure accuracy, clarity and consistency. When using the desk reference, it is critical to review an entire topic section as messages build on each other to frame the topic. Each week I’ll highlight a new/updated section as part of our efforts to promote use of this document across fire & burn prevention professionals, starting with the new messaging on carbon monoxide.   Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide. The number of fatalities in the US attributed to CO poisoning has remained fairly consistent from 1999-2018 averaging 1.3 deaths per million population, with 435 such deaths occurring in 2018.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), generators are the leading product involved in CO incidents, followed by heating equipment. New messaging for CO includes an expanded list of sources of CO emission, and stronger messaging related to the need for CO alarms in the home. Proper use of fireplaces to prevent CO poisoning is new too, along with proper use of portable generators, a major cause of CO poisoning. The desk reference also now includes a new section of CO messaging within the Boating and Marinas chapter. What’s Next? As part of the Educational Messaging Desk Reference updates, we’ll be updating our safety tip sheets and hosting future webinars for FLS Educators highlighting both the new information and how educators can use the desk reference in their public education efforts. Next week’s blog will focus on the new and updated messaging Fire Safety Away from Home - peer-to-peer hospitality, motor home, camper and recreation vehicle safety. Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and NFPA on Twitter,  Facebook, and Instagram  to keep up with the latest from the Public Education Division.
EMAC Reference Guide

Worried you’re saying the wrong thing?

Promoting safety messages, whether in traditional learning settings, virtual settings, social media or other means is an important part of public education efforts to raise awareness and provide information to help keep people safe.  NFPA’s Educational Messaging Desk Reference, now in the updated 2020 Edition, offers Fire and Life Safety (FLS) educators and those involved in injury prevention and public education, a compendium of accurate, relevant and up to date messaging for a multitude of facets of fire and burn prevention. The Desk Reference is the result of the hard work of the Educational Messaging Advisory Committee (EMAC) in conjunction with NFPA Public Education Division staff.  The EMAC reviews current messages and all submissions made by professional and general public stakeholders, to determine what information is needed for public messaging, and how to position those messages in the most accurate and clear way.  New chapters on Pet Fire Safety and Youth Firesetting have been added along with new messaging/sections on: Carbon Monoxide – boating and marinas Home Fire Escape – for people who are deaf or have hearing loss, use a mobility device and are blind or have low vision Fire Safety Away from Home - peer-to-peer hospitality, motor home, camper and recreation vehicle safety, safety in places of public assembly, car fire safety Cooking - microwave ovens, gas grills Electrical- pools, hot tubs, and spas, equipment safety, marina and boating safety Candle - how to burn a candle, candles for religious/ceremonial use in homes Outdoor burning – campfire safety, fire pit safety, recreational fire use Flammable and Combustible Liquid and Gases – propane gas safety, propane appliance maintenance, gel fuel safety Battery Safety – 9-volt batteries, battery disposal The EMAC meets periodically to review NFPA’s fire and burn safety education messages and to provide recommendations to NFPA public education staff for messaging updates and revisions.  Submissions of comments, proposed revisions, and new messages is done on an ongoing basis from a wide variety of professionals and public audiences.  The report on proposed submissions considered for this 2020 edition is available along with the Desk Reference at www.nfpa.org/emac. My sincere thanks to our Committee: Ernest Grant, Chair, American Nurses Association,  Marty Ahrens, NFPA, Meri-K Appy, Vision 20/20,  Brett Brenner, Electrical Safety Foundation International, Kwame Cooper, LA City Fire Department, retired, Torine Creppy, Safe Kids Worldwide, Debbie Goetz, Seattle Fire Department, Michael D. Greenia, Vermont Division of Fire Safety, Kevin Kelley, American Red Cross, Michael Kozo, Fire Department New York, Teresa Neal, United States Fire Administration, Sylvia Peace, Greenville Fire Rescue, Zoe Susice, UL FSRI, Nancy Trench, Oklahoma State University, retired, and NFPA staff  liaisons Amy LeBeau and Kelly Ransdell.  The time, energy, and talent they give to assure NFPA is providing the most up to date, accurate and consistent fire and life safety messaging is tremendous and much appreciated. Download your copy today!  Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and NFPA on Twitter,  Facebook, and Instagram to keep up with the latest from the Public Education Division.
Jamie Everitte, Public Educator for Fayetteville Fire Department at the COVID vaccine drive through clinic  held at the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville NC.

Meeting people where they are for fire safety

“Covid-19 presented us with many challenges, but also gave us a fresh view.” These are the words of Jamie Everitte, Public Educator for the Fayetteville, NC Fire Department who innovated to find new ways to reach his community. Working with his local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Everitte created 4 x 6 information cards on smoke alarms and heating safety to use at the local drive through COVID vaccination clinic.   Parking his very conspicuous fire safety van featuring messages such as “Stand by your Pan” and “Pay attention in the kitchen,” the smoke alarm and heating safety information, in English and Spanish, was distributed to people as they sat in their cars during the post-vaccine 15-minute wait period. With around one thousand people a day coming through the clinic, Everitte estimates he’s directly interacted and reached about 2000 people so far. “We are missing human interaction, and this is one way we can bring that, along with fire safety resources, to our community.” Fayetteville has a smoke alarm installation program, so that for people who can’t get or afford one, they can contact one of the 17 stations in the township. That smoke alarm installation program is now county-wide, thanks to the participation of the support of the Cumberland County Fire Chiefs.  Smoke alarm and heating information topics were chosen because of the increase in heating related fires this time of year, and while doing virtual education, Everitte has noticed something else he wouldn’t have before COVID – hearing the chirp of a low smoke alarm battery in the background in people’s homes. This provided another piece of information that smoke alarm information is critical at this time when more people are staying home, and where that chirp somehow becomes “white noise” in people’s homes.   Just another example of how Fire and Life Safety Education professionals work to reach their communities, innovating along the way. For more tip sheets, videos, and other fire safety resources, go to www.nfpa.org/education. Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and NFPA on  Twitter, Facebook  and Instagram to keep up with the latest from the Public Education Division at NFPA. Pictured above is Jamie Everitte, Public Educator for Fayetteville Fire Department at the COVID vaccine drive through clinic  held at the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville NC.  
Man cooking

Burn prevention awareness year-round

As this year’s National Burn Awareness Week comes to a close, my thoughts turn to how we can continue the conversation that often starts with these kinds of health observances.  This year’s theme, “Electrical Safety from Amps to Zap (A to Z)!” focused on, and raised awareness of, the thousands of burns experienced each year in the U.S. due to electrical causes. This week gave Fire & Life Safety (FLS) educators and related health and injury prevention professionals an opportunity to reinforce key burn prevention measures related to safe use of electrical equipment. Kudos to the American Burn Association and their collaborators for the amazing work of bringing electrical burn injuries to public’s attention. But burn prevention in general is a year-round need with a myriad of types and causes of burns impacting mortality and quality of life. Cooking continues to be the leading cause of reported home fires and home-fire injuries, and cooking related non-fire burns the highest cause of burn injuries. The NFPA Non-Fire Cooking Burn Injuries report details the various causes of cooking related non-fire burn injuries reported from 2014-2018.  Just over 15,000 burn injuries were treated annually during that time period in Emergency Departments (ED) due to contact with hot range/oven with just over 11,000 burn injuries treated due to tableware or cup scalds.  Children under the age of five account for just 6% of the population yet bear a disproportionate burden of burns due largely to hot tableware, cup scalds, contact with hot grills and contact with hot ranges or ovens.  Microwave scalds were more associated with older children (5-14 years) representing 38% of such burns treated at ED’s. Scald prevention for all ages includes a mix of environmental and behavioral changes that can make a real impact such as installing anti-scald devices on tub facets and shower heads, testing bath water to make sure it is less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) and keeping kids and pets three feet away from cooking and where hot foods/drinks are being prepared and served. Whether due to electrical, cooking, contact with fire, burns continue to impact quality of life, with over 400,000 burn injuries requiring medical treatment each year in the U.S., we have plenty of work to do to assure burn prevention is a regular component of fire prevention education. And no matter the topic, a reminder that Working smoke alarms, in every bedroom, level and outside every sleeping area, Carbon monoxide alarms, on every level, and a Home Fire Escape Plan, are a must in every home. Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and NFPA on  Twitter, Facebook  and Instagram to keep up with the latest from the Public Education Division at NFPA.
... 5

Latest Articles