AUTHOR: Kelly Ransdell


How you doin? Covid-19 cases have increased and Apartment Fires have too!

For decades TV shows like The Jeffersons, Friends, and Will & Grace have shown the fun side of apartment living. In addition to fun neighbors and friends, there are certain things to remember when lots of people live in one place.  No matter what size of apartment building you live in, it is crucial to have working smoke alarms and an exit plan. If you haven't already met with your landlord or building manager to learn about the fire safety features and plans in your building, it is important that you call right away. Over the last few weeks, there has been an increase in apartment fires all over the country. Some large enough to displace over 50 people at a time.  With more people at home during the day, we have seen an uptick in the usual suspects- cooking, smoking, and electrical fires. In cases where causes have been identified, local fire departments have been pushing out safety messages through traditional news channels and social media.  Check out our Fire Alarms in Apartment Building and High-rise Apartment safety tip sheets: Large apartment buildings are built to keep people safe from fire. Fire alarms in apartment buildings detect smoke and fire to warn residents of dangers. Know the locations of all exit stairs from your floor. If the nearest one is blocked by fire or smoke, you may have to use another exit. People living in a high-rise apartment or condominium building need to think ahead and be prepared in the event of a fire. It is important to know the fire safety features in your building and work together with neighbors to help keep the building as fire safe as possible. The US Fire Administration has Apartment Safety flyers in English and Spanish and social media cards: Be Prepared: Create an escape plan. Discuss how you will get outside. Practice your plan. Stay Calm: In the event of a fire, stay calm. Move to the exit as you have practiced. Call the fire department once you are outside. Wait Outside for the Fire Department: Once you are outside, move away from the building. Give firefighters and fire trucks plenty of space. As we all adjust to this new normal, we hope you will find innovative ways to make your community safe before a tragedy strikes. Then you will be “movin on up” safely.

Safety in your Home away from Home: Home is wherever you park….

With the pandemic, road trips have come to screeching halt. In these trying times, people are getting creative with how to use their vacation home with wheels. Healthcare workers are looking for alternative places to stay during the COVID-19 crisis so they don't expose their families to the virus. Strangers with RVs are lending their vehicles through an initiative on Facebook called RVs for MDs. This a wonderful example of people stepping up to help others, unfortunately, tragedy can strike if we don't pay attention to fire safety during these historical times. Before loaning out your vehicle, make sure this home away from home will be safe. These tips also apply to people using motor homes to quarantine. Install smoke alarms. Make sure they work. Occupants should stay in the kitchen while you cook. Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stovetop. Only use one heat-producing appliance plugged into a receptacle outlet at a time. Major appliances should be plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet. Refrigerators, furnaces, ovens and stovetops use propane. Check them for leaks. Keep an updated gas leak detector on board. Have propane system inspected to make sure it still works properly. Know two ways out. Make sure windows open easily Do not keep camping heaters and lanterns on while sleeping. Have your vehicle serviced by a qualified mechanic. Keep a portable fire extinguisher on board. Only adults who know how to operate it should use it. Only use it if the fire is small and can be contained. Until we are all hitting the road again, use our safety tip sheet to help protect “campers” during the pandemic.

First it was Toilet Paper…now Baby Chicks? Emerging Trends with a Fire Safety Twist

With Covid-19 dominating the headlines, there have been some surprising trends below the surface. One of those is the buy out of chicks across the United States. According to a recent New York Times article, for the next few weeks, baby chickens will be nearly impossible to find. Each spring, feed stores and farm supply stores stock baby chicks around Easter. This year, families are purchasing chicks to set up their own supply chain for eggs. With lines around the corner at feed stores, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind if you are planning to build a chicken coop or already have one: Make sure that heat lamps are properly secured to keep them from being knocked over Keep heat lamps at least three feet away from anything that can burn. Place space heaters on a sturdy surface so they won't be knocked over and keep them at least three feet away from anything that can burn. Regularly brush cobwebs and dust from light fixtures and outlets. Choose light bulbs that have covers to protect them from dirt, moisture, and breaking. Do not use extension cords in the coop. Choose electrical equipment designed for agricultural or commercial use. Be careful with electrically heated poultry waterers. Make sure the cord and plug are properly grounded. Check all wiring for damage. Have electrical work done by a qualified electrician Choose outlets and switch boxes designed to keep out dust and water. Download NFPA's safety tip sheet for these and other tips to help protect your family, your property and your flock from the tragedy of fire.

With more families at home during the coronavirus, working smoke alarms are essential

With COVID-19 dominating the headlines, it is still a daily occurrence for fires to happen and with more people at home, fire safety can't wait. Recently, our team has received many questions about how to handle the continued need for smoke alarm installations.National organizations and their partners, have stopped canvassing efforts in light of the coronavirus risk, and in accordance with state and local quarantines. One fire chief stated he had lost more lives in a recent home fire than they have lost, to date, in this pandemic. He has challenged the fire marshal to figure out how we (as the fire service) can make sure that people have working smoke alarms, in spite of the pandemic.Every community is different - so unfortunately, one size does not fit all. We know that working smoke alarms are key to early notification during a home fire. How can the fire service make sure homes have working smoke alarms without canvassing or directly installing? Consider these options, but also resist some shortcuts that might cause liability issues:During emergency calls have the duty crew check the smoke alarms in the home. A battery replacement or alarm replacement may be needed. Advertise that smoke alarms are available through the usual media channels.If there is a high-risk area, or following an incident, use door hangers to give instructions on what to do if you need a smoke alarm, as well as best practices for testing them – here are some tips from FEMA. If someone needs an alarm immediately, consider delivering it to their porch along with instructions on how to install it.Set up a pick-up area outside your fire station – similar to what restaurants and grocery stores are currently doing for pickups. With many manufacturers posting videos, it is easier to give residents guidance on how to install the alarms properly. They also have a quick guide for each:  First Alert smoke alarms and Kidde smoke alarms.Ask the resident if there are family members or a caretaker that can help install the alarms, once they have them.Here are just a couple of YOU TUBE videos from manufacturers that you can also use.First Alert Smoke Alarm Installation Tutorial - YouTube How to Install Kidde Worry Free Smoke Alarms - YouTubeAs with any safety device, it is important to communicate to residents to follow manufacturer's instructions. As fire and life safety educators, we need to get creative and figure out safe and effective ways to save lives during this difficult time. IT'S A BIG WORLD. LET'S PROTECT IT TOGETHER.

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