AUTHOR: Susan McKelvey

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.

NFPA Receives Grant to Enhance Remembering When™ Fire and Falls Prevention Program for Older Adults, Helping Broaden its Scale and Reach

NFPA has received a $526,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Fire Prevention & Safety (FP&S) program in support of reducing fires and falls among older adults, a key high-risk population. The funding will help broaden the reach and scale of Remembering When: A fire and fall prevention program for older adults through the development of updated digital training and resources, which are used by public health and safety officials for implementation in their communities.   People ages 65 and older comprise 16% of the total US population, but experience a disproportionate percentage of injuries and deaths from fires and falls; nearly one in three seniors (17 million people) suffers a fall each year. The fire service and EMS now see more fall victims than fire victims, often being called to the same homes repeatedly for falls. This reliance on the fire service presents a unique opportunity for fire and elder care services to work together to provide needed assistance and services to older adults. In order to more fully and effectively meet those growing needs, the reach, scope, and scale of the Remembering When program must be broadened and strengthened.  Through the grant funding, NFPA will create new educational assets and a process to monitor local program activity and collect key data, and to develop online learning modules that deliver training to greater numbers of fire and elder/public health professionals. The funding will also work to expand Remembering When messaging to include information around proper use of medication. Year one of the project will focus on development of these resources; year two will focus on pilot testing them.  In order to meet the project's objectives, NFPA will work with numerous partners for subject matter and technical expertise, as well as program guidance. Partners include the multi-disciplinary Remembering When Advisory Group, Fire and Life Safety Education stakeholders, the NFPA Educational Messaging Advisory Group, the National Disability Rights Network, the University of Iowa's School of Public Health, and the Fire Protection Research Foundation. 
Patio heater

Keep Fire Safety in Mind When Using Outdoor Portable Heaters and Other Outdoor Equipment during Cooler Months

Over the past several months, outdoor gatherings have served as an effective way for friends and family to connect while minimizing exposure to the coronavirus. As temperatures drop in many parts of the country, outdoor portable heaters, fire pits, chimineas and campfires are being used to help comfortably extend social activities for as long as reasonably possible.  While these types of outdoor equipment can continue to be used safely, it's important to remember that they do present potential fire hazards. Fortunately, these risks can be significantly reduced by following basic but important tips and recommendations:  Use fuel and fire starters properly Carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions for fuel usage, only using the type of fuel recommended by the manufacturer. For firepits, chimineas, or campfires, never use gasoline or other flammable or combustible liquids to start or maintain a fire. For electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire, make sure the extension cord you use is designed for outdoor use. For outdoor propane heaters, store propane tanks in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.  Never leave equipment unattended Only use outdoor equipment when it's being monitored closely. Turn off outdoor portable outdoor heaters when you leave the area, even if it's just for a few moments. 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 leaving the area or going to sleep.  Carefully consider placement of equipment, keeping anything that can burn well away Outdoor portable heaters should be placed on a flat, sturdy surface and in a location where they can't be bumped into or knocked over. Fire pits should be located at least 10 feet away from the home/structure. 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. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from any type of equipment in use. Make sure combustible items, such as blankets and outerwear, are at least three feet away from equipment.  If a fire breaks out, call the fire department If a fire breaks involving any type of outdoor equipment, call the fire department immediately for assistance.  NOTE: If you're a local official working to ensure that outdoor portable heaters are used properly and safely at restaurants and other businesses in your community, our new “Outdoor Heater Safety” fact sheet provides guidance and recommendations for safe usage, including proper storage of propane tanks, in accordance with NFPA 1, Fire Code. We also have a wealth of free, downloadable public education resources addressing fire and life safety issues amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure to check them out!

Lowe's Educates Communities about Home Fire Safety and Supports Local Fire Departments during Fire Prevention Week

Along with the tremendous outreach efforts we saw from fire departments and safety educators in support of Fire Prevention Week this year, a wide range of businesses and organizations actively engaged in the campaign as well. These collective efforts are an important part of reaching communities with life-saving information, the true purpose of this campaign. In one example Lowe's used their stores and employees to educate communities about how they can protect their families and homes from the threats of fire and carbon monoxide (CO). On October 12, more than 1,700 Lowe's stores nationwide hosted fire safety events in their communities, featuring fun, family-focused activities to teach people about equipping their homes with smoke and CO alarms, as well as the importance of home escape planning and practice. Children were able to build a wooden fire truck in a special workshop and received firefighter hats, coloring books and educational materials. The effort drew more than 120,000 residents across the country. In addition, each store donated buckets filled with supplies to their local fire departments as a thank you for the tremendous work they do in communities. All told, they gave more than $173,000 in equipment to local fire departments.   A tremendous thanks to Lowe's for actively supporting Fire Prevention Week and promoting critical home fire safety messages communities nationwide. To learn more about the focus of Lowe's fire safety efforts, take a look at this article:

NFPA's new “Outdoor Heater Safety” fact sheet provides guidelines for safe use of portable outdoor heaters at restaurants, schools, offices and other spaces

Many restaurants, schools, offices, and other businesses have been using outdoor spaces to run and stay open amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, with portable outdoor heaters increasingly being used to reduce the chill as temperatures drop. To help ensure that outdoor propane and electric heaters are used safely and in accordance with NFPA 1, Fire Code (2018 edition), NFPA has developed “Outdoor Heater Safety,” a new fact sheet that provides guidance and recommendations around safe use of these appliances.   Included in the fact sheet are guidelines and recommendations for proper use of propane patio heaters, including safe storage of propane cylinders, as well as electric patio heaters. General safety tips, such as keeping anything at least three feet away from heating equipment and turning off all portable heaters when the area is not carefully monitored or occupied, are highlighted as well.   By following these recommendations, communities can enhance safety while continuing to enjoy outdoor dining and other activities involving outdoor heaters later into the colder months.   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.  
Testing smoke alarm REVISED

The Importance of Smoke Alarms, Home Escape Planning and Home Fire Sprinklers Remain Critical messages during Fire Prevention Week

Cooking safety is the focus of this year's Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen” for good reason: Cooking is the leading cause of U.S. home fires and injuries and the second-leading cause of fire fatalities. While everyone has been working diligently to better educate the public about common causes of home cooking fires and ways to prevent them, it's also important to address smoke alarms and home escape planning when and where possible. Keep these key points in mind when talking about smoke alarms, home escape planning and practice, as well as home fire sprinklers: Smoke alarms: Smoke alarms are your first line of defense. Having working smoke alarms in your home reduces your risk of dying in a fire by 54 percent compared to in homes with no smoke alarms or alarms that aren't working. Make sure smoke alarms are properly installed, tested and maintained, as follows: NFPA requires at least one smoke alarm on every level of the home, in each bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. Test smoke alarms monthly by pushing the test button Replace smoke alarm batteries when they begin to chirp, signaling that the batteries are running low. Consider installing interconnected alarms, so that when one smoke alarm sounds, they all do. Smoke alarms don't last forever; replace them every 10 years or sooner if they're not functioning properly. Home escape planning and practice: Today's homes burn faster than ever. In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Using that time wisely is critical to safety from fire, but it takes planning and practice. Developing a home fire escape plan with all members of your household and practicing it regularly, at least twice a year, helps ensure that everyone knows what to do when the smoke alarm sounds. A home escape plan includes the following: Two ways out of every room, typically a door and a window A path from each exit to the outside A meeting place outside in front of the home where everyone will meet upon exiting Everyone in the home knowing how to call the fire department once safely outside Remembering that once you're outside to stay out. Never go back inside a burning building Use our home escape planning grid to help people create and practice a home escape plan. Home fire sprinklers: The presence of home fire sprinklers can increase the chances of surviving a home fire by 87 percent. People age 65 and older are at the highest risk of dying in a home fire, while children, pets, and those with disabilities are also at increased risk. While newer building techniques provided great benefits over the years, unprotected lightweight construction combined with synthetic materials and open floor plans can result in fires that burn faster and at higher temperatures. Being alerted quickly with smoke alarms and controlling the fire as soon as it is detected with home fire sprinklers are an integral part of a home fire protection strategy, along with a practiced escape plan, can minimize the likelihood of tragedy that fires can incur. Download our fact sheet to help spread the facts about the life-saving measures of home fire sprinkler systems. For more information, visit the Fire Sprinkler Initiative webpage.
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