AUTHOR: LisaMarie Sinatra

10 Tips
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3 action steps to get you started using portable generators safely this winter

Our first big snowfall of the season hit the east last weekend and with January well underway, we know this storm is not going to be the last! There's a lot to do to prepare for the cold weather and all that Mother Nature will throw at us, especially when we know that with these severe storms comes possible power outages. Are you one of the thousands who plan to use a portable generator during a storm when the electricity goes out? If you are, you should know that using a generator improperly can be dangerous. The most common hazards include carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, electrical shock or electrocution and fire hazards. But don't let the risks keep you from using a portable generator; you just have to know how to operate them safely. Consider the following action steps that you can put into place now before the next storm hits: • Operate generators in well-ventilated locations outdoors away from all doors, windows and vent openings• Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open• Place generators so that exhaust fumes can't enter the home through windows, doors or other openings in the building Find additional action steps and resources about portable generators, including a great tips sheet, that you can download and post on your fridge for easy access all winter long from the “safety in the home” section of the public education page of our website.

9 ways to know that you're a holiday decorating disaster

   1) Your cat lets you know he's delighted you've finally bought some great toys!    Keep pets and children at least three feet away from burning candles and  electrical cords to prevent burns and electrical fires.      2) That ever-growing pile of fallen pine needles on the floor is receiving  more comments than the decorations for your Christmas tree.    A dry tree in your home is a fire danger. Think of it as a huge pile of kindling in  your home. Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.      3) You've spent more time trying to free yourself out of the tangled lights  than actually decorating the tree.    Check the manufacturer's instructions to find out how many lights can be  connected to prevent electric shock and fire.      4) You know it's bad to put flammable material near a fire, but you can't  help yourself. These stockings just look so darn cute and festive!        Keep anything that can burn away from a heat source, despite how awesome  it looks. Flameless candles are also a great alternative to real ones when  decorating.      5) Your house is a holiday tourist attraction and you couldn't be prouder.        An overloaded electrical outlet is a major fire hazard. Plug strings of lights  directly into the wall and keep the number to a minimum.      6) Some of the bulbs on your string of lights have already taken time off   for the holidays.        Replace any string of lights that has worn or broken cords or loose bulb   connections. These can easily start a fire. 7) You've remembered to keep yourself well hydrated, but the same can't be said for your Christmas tree. Always keep water in the tree stand. Check daily and add water as needed. Dried-out trees are a major fire hazard.   8) You're sure those strings of Christmas lights make the perfect hat to complement your holiday outfit. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both. And most certainly, not for your head.   9) You've been lazy about disposing your Christmas tree so you got creative and came up with a new tradition: a Valentine's Day tree! Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Let's face it, the holidays are never perfect, no matter how they're portrayed in magazines and on television. But by following a few simple practices and precautions, you can create a fun and perfectly fire-safe holiday for you and your loved ones! And remember, have working smoke alarms in your home and create a home escape plan. Practice it with your family so everyone knows what to do if a fire does occur. Find additional tips and resources about holiday fire safety on our Project Holiday webpage.  Happy Holidays from NFPA!
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Quiz/Sweepstakes helps college students test their cooking fire safety knowledge during Campus Fire Safety Month

September is Campus Fire Safety Month and this year NFPA and The Center for Campus Fire Safety (The Center) are teaming up to host their second national campaign with an online Campus Fire Safety Quiz & Sweepstakes (Quiz), “What Kind of Cook are You in the Kitchen?.” The interactive quiz raises awareness about the dangers of cooking fires among college-aged students who live in on- and off-campus housing.According to a recent NFPA report, the vast majority of fires in fraternities, sororities and other related properties involve cooking equipment, and unattended cooking is the most common cause.The Quiz, available online from September 1 – 30 on The Center's website, targets students currently enrolled in an institution of higher education. By participating, students will be able to recognize unsafe practices and learn appropriate ways to cook meals that will reduce the risk for injury and damage caused by fire. Students who complete the Quiz will be entered into a sweepstakes where two winners will be randomly selected to receive an American Express gift card.In addition to the Quiz, the campaign also provides a host of resources for students, parents and fire safety educators that focus on the dangers of cooking. These free resources have been designed for sharing via social media, on college websites, and for posting in dorms and on common area bulletin boards, and include:VideosChecklistsTips SheetsInfographics and flyersPostersThe effort complements two new college fire safety campaigns this year:  the Massachusetts-focused “Best Roommates Evah!” that targets college students who live in on- and off-campus housing throughout the state, and highlights the importance of having working smoke alarms and two ways out of a house in case of a fire emergency; and the "See It Before You Sign It" national campaign that encourages parents to take a more active role in helping their loved ones choose secure, fire-safe housing in apartments or houses that are not on campus.Learn more about the Quiz/Sweepstakes at www.campusfiresafety.org/cooking. Find additional resources for students, parents and fire safety educators at www.nfpa.org/campus and join the college fire safety movement!
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5 grilling tips to keep you fire safe this Labor Day weekend

Where did the summer go? For most of us, the month of August has just flown by! But here we are approaching Labor Day weekend and NFPA knows that many of you, like us, are getting ready for outdoor parties and lots of grilling! As the host of the event, you want to make sure your guests are entertained, get plenty of good food to eat and enjoy the company of friends and family, right? Well, why not include fire safety in that list of priorities! Here are five key tips that will never steer you wrong when it comes to proper grill use: Place your grill well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it Never leave your grill unattended! Keep children and pets, and anything that can burn like food wrappers, an oven mitt or towel, at least 3-feet away from open flames and the grill Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill Want an easier way to remember these tips? Go ahead and download our free checklist and then place it right next to the list of groceries you'll need for the big event. Having the hard copy is a sure way you'll refer to it as you start preparing for your guests to arrive. And if your Labor Day plans take you away from home, NFPA provides great information on portable grilling including tips and reminders about using charcoal and staying fire safe in places like campgrounds, at tailgating parties and other outdoor venues. So wherever your plans take you the weekend of September 3, remember, fire safety is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your  guests. Let NFPA help you, and enjoy the holiday, everyone!
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