AUTHOR: Susan McKelvey


Help Spread Scalding Safety and Prevention Messages During Burn Awareness Week

National Burn Awareness Week, an initiative of the American Burn Association, works to mobilize burn, fire, and life safety educators in sharing a common burn awareness and prevention message in their communities. The theme for this year’s Burn Awareness Week campaign, February 5–11, is "Hot Liquids Burn Like Fire!," which highlights the risk and severity of scald burns from hot liquids such as bathwater, hot drinks, and food products.  Scald burns are the second-leading cause of all burn injuries in the US, with children under five bearing the greatest risk of non-fire cooking burn injuries. They’re also the leading cause of injury from microwave ovens. In support of this year’s Burn Awareness Week campaign, NFPA® is working to help increase awareness of scalding risks and the steps that can be taken to reduce them. We have a variety of resources that can be easily downloaded, printed, and shared, such as our scald prevention safety tip sheet, which shares ways to reduce the risk of scald burns from hot bathwater and hot food/liquids. We also have a tip sheet for safe use of microwave ovens, which includes instruction on careful removal and opening of packaged foods, as well as the dangers of heating baby bottles. NFPA also has a Sparky the Fire Dog® video designed specifically to help kids identify whether common household items are safe to touch. Called Hot, Not Hot, Sometimes Hot video, the video is available on the NFPA Kids YouTube Channel.   Join NFPA and the American Burn Association in observing National Burn Awareness Week by sharing these key burn prevention messages and behaviors with your communities.
Christmas tree removal

One-third (33 percent) of Christmas Tree Fires Occur in January, Making Prompt Removal from Homes Critical to Safety

Saying goodbye to your Christmas tree may not be easy, but here’s a compelling reason to remove it as soon as possible: One-third (33 percent) of US home fires involving Christmas trees occur in January, on annual average. The longer a natural tree is kept up after Christmas, the more likely it is to dry out; a dried-out tree can become engulfed in flames in a matter of seconds. That’s why NFPA® strongly encourages everyone to remove Christmas trees from their homes promptly after the holiday season. The latest Christmas tree fires report from NFPA, which reflects annual averages between 2016 and 2020, shows that 160 home structure fires began with Christmas trees, resulting in two civilian deaths, 11 civilian injuries, and $12 million in direct property damage. According to the report, fires that begin with Christmas trees are a very small but notable part of the US fire problem, considering that they are generally in use for a short time each year. Some Christmas tree fires occur in chimneys or flues, suggesting that people may burn the tree to dispose of it. With these concerns in mind, the US Forest Service offers this caution: “Never burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove! Pines, firs and other evergreens have a high content of flammable turpentine oils and burning the tree may contribute to creosote buildup and risk a chimney fire.” To safely dispose of a Christmas tree, NFPA recommends using the local community’s recycling program, if possible; trees should not be put in the garage or left outside. Also, following are tips for safely removing lighting and decorations and storing them properly to ensure that they’re still in good condition next season: Use the gripping area on the plug when unplugging electrical decorations. Never pull the cord to unplug any device from an electrical outlet, as this can harm the wire and insulation of the cord, increasing the risk of shock or electrical fire. As you pack up light strings, inspect each line for damage, throwing out any sets that have loose connections, broken sockets, or cracked or bare wires. Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags or wrap them around a piece of cardboard. Store electrical decorations in a dry place away from children and pets where they will not be damaged by water or dampness. For more information on home fire safety all winter long, visit “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires,” a winter safety campaign NFPA promotes annually with the US Fire Administration.

Keep Fire Safety In Mind When Celebrating Hanukkah This December

Flickering candles on the menorah and crispy latkes are classic elements of Hanukkah celebrations. However, candles and cooking (particularly cooking that includes frying) present potential fire hazards that can quickly turn a fun-filled holiday into a tragic one. The good news is that the likelihood of cooking and candle fires can be minimized by following simple safety precautions and guidelines. When using a menorah that requires traditional candles, make sure it’s placed on a sturdy surface and in a location that it can’t be easily bumped into or knocked over. Also, keep the menorah at least 1 foot away from anything that can burn and monitor it carefully - all candles must be blown out when leaving the room or going to sleep. Our candle safety tip sheet offers these and other recommendations to help reduce the risk of home candle fires; our religious candle safety tip sheet addresses fire safety tips specifically related to religious holiday activities. If you use an electrically powered menorah, inspect the wiring carefully to ensure that it’s in good condition and remember to unplug it when leaving the home or going to sleep. When it comes to cooking during Hanukkah, keep in mind that grease pan frying dominates the home cooking fire problem. According to our latest US home cooking fires report, which reflects annual averages between 2014 and 2018, cooking oil, fat, grease, and related substances were first ignited in half (52 percent) of the home cooking fires that began with cooking materials. Almost three-fifths (58 percent) of the civilian deaths and three-quarters of the civilian injuries (76 percent) and direct property damage (77 percent) associated with cooking material or food ignition resulted from these cooking oil or grease fires. Follow these safety considerations when cooking with oil: Monitor what’s frying on the stovetop carefully – never leave frying food unattended. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot. Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying. Add food gently to the pan so the oil does not splatter. 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 on the fire. If the fire does not go out or you don’t feel comfortable sliding a lid over the pan, get everyone out of your home. Call the fire department from outside. Visit our cooking safety page for more cooking safety tips and information. Check out our winter holiday safety page for additional statistics, resources, and recommendations on safely celebrating all season long.
Christmas tree decorating

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

For all the joy and beauty Christmas trees bring, it’s important to remember that they 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 2016 and 2020, resulting in two civilian deaths, 11 civilian injuries, and $12 million in direct property damage. Statistically, Christmas tree fires don’t happen often, but when they do, they’re much more likely to be serious. The deadly fire that occurred at a row house in Philadelphia this past January, which involved a Christmas tree and caused 12 fatalities (nine of them children), tragically underscores this point. Fires involving fresh Christmas trees tend to be more common than artificial tree fires. That’s in part because fresh Christmas trees dry out over time, making them more flammable the longer they’re in the home; a dried-out Christmas tree will burn much more quickly than a well-watered one. Our Christmas tree safety tip sheet offers tips and recommendations for safely enjoying Christmas trees this season. Following are some key reminders: For a fresh tree, cut 2 inches (5 cm) from the base of the trunk before placing it in the stand. Add water daily to keep the tree well hydrated. Trees should be placed at least 3 feet (1 m) away from any heat source, such as 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, the latest statistics from NFPA on Christmas tree fires in US homes include these key findings, reflecting annual averages between 2016 and 2020: Christmas tree fires are more common between 3 p.m. and midnight, accounting for one-half of associated fires. Another 26 percent of fires occurred between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Approximately two of every five home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den. Electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in more than one-third (34 percent) of Christmas tree fires. In one-fifth (20 percent) of Christmas tree fires, some type of heat source was placed too close to the tree. Visit our winter holidays page for additional information and resources on how to safely deck the halls this holiday season. These resources can be shared online, through social media, and/or as handouts.
Thanksgiving turkey

Reduce the Risk of Home Fires in Your Community This Thanksgiving, the Leading Day of the Year for Home Cooking Fires

Each year, anywhere from 3 to 4 times as many home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day as on a typical day, making it by far the leading day of the year for home cooking fires. This annual spike can largely be attributed to people cooking multiple dishes at once, along with other distractions that can make it easy to lose sight of what’s cooking on the stove and in the oven. Year-round, cooking is the leading cause (49 percent) of U.S. home fires, with unattended cooking serving as the leading cause. Fortunately, these factors shouldn’t put a crimp in anyone’s Thanksgiving plans. Following simple safety precautions and guidelines can go a long way toward ensuring a fire-safe holiday. As Thanksgiving nears, fire departments, public safety educators, and advocates are strongly encouraged to promote the following tips and recommendations, helping ensure that households prepare for and celebrate the holiday with fire safety in mind: 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, remain at home and check it regularly. Make use of timers 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 at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from the cooking area. Avoid long sleeves and hanging fabrics that can 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 the 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 3 feet (1 meter) away from the stove and oven. Kids should also stay away from hot foods and liquids, as steam or splash from these items could cause severe burns. NFPA® strongly discourages the use of turkey fryers, as they can lead to severe burns, injuries, and property damage. Grocery stores, food retailers, and restaurants often sell deep-fried turkeys, which can serve as a safe alternative to frying one at home. Visit our Thanksgiving fire safety page for more information, data, and resources, including social media cards and tip sheets, that can be shared with your community.

Fire Prevention Week Was a Resounding Success - Thanks to All Who Participated

At its core, Fire Prevention Week™ is a grassroots campaign that delivers potentially life-saving impact to communities through thousands of fire departments and safety advocates who promote its messages at the local level. Each year, their hard work, enthusiasm, and creativity bring the campaign to life and actively engage the public in home fire safety and prevention. Alongside these efforts, NFPA® works with groups and organizations that share our goal of reducing the public’s risk to home fires, helping maximize the reach and influence of Fire Prevention Week. Here are some ways we collaboratively promoted and celebrated the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week and this year’s theme, “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.™”: On Tuesday, October 11, NFPA sponsored the USFA Summit on Fire Prevention and Control: State of Science, which was held in support of Fire Prevention Week. Hosted in Emmitsburg, Maryland, the live-stream event featured virtual remarks from President Biden along with presentations to the president by fire safety leaders, including Jim Pauley, NFPA president, and Michele Steinberg, director of the NFPA wildfire division, who shared their perspectives on the most pressing fire and life safety concerns facing our world today. NFPA President Jim Pauley (far right) participating in the fire safety summit. For the 15th year, NFPA and Domino’s teamed up to implement a joint smoke alarm safety program in support of Fire Prevention Week. Nearly 130 fire departments across the United States collaborated with their local Domino’s to conduct smoke alarm inspections for randomly selected customers. To kick off the program, an event was held at the Flint Fire Department on Wednesday, October 12, where 41 local first graders learned about home fire safety followed by a pizza party and a visit from Sparky the Fire Dog®. Amy Acton, president of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, and Kevin Sehlmeyer, Michigan state fire marshal, also attended in support of the program. Sparky joins the Flint Fire Department and local Domino's delivery specialist for the program's inaugural smoke alarm check and pizza delivery. From left to right: Amy Acton, president of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors; Fire Chief Ray Barton, Flint FD; Sparky; Michigan SFM Kevin Sehlmeyer; and Deputy Fire Chief Carrie Edwards-Clemons, Flint FD help kick off the 15th annual Domino's smoke alarm program held in coordination with NFPA. State Farm generously donated a total of 4,300 Fire Prevention Week toolkits to fire departments in 48 states throughout the country, helping spread our materials and information nationwide. Organizations like vipHomeLink, NextDoor, and Legoland actively supported Fire Prevention Week, sharing our home escape planning and practice messages among their audiences through digital platforms and live events. NFPA staff attended events in support of Fire Prevention Week, including the Operation Save a Life program, a partnership of Kidde Fire Safety, Home Depot stores, and local ABC affiliates that promotes the critical role smoke and carbon monoxide alarms play in home fire safety, as well as the Cause for Alarm program, which is also sponsored by Kidde. NFPA's Meredith Hawes attended and shared opening remarks at the Cause for Alarm event in Bronx, NY. NFPA's Kelly Ransdell (left) attended the Operation Save a Life program held by Kidde Fire Safety, an ABC affiliate, and The Home Depot. To see many more examples of how Fire Prevention Week 2022 was celebrated this October 9–15, visit our Twitter, Instagram, and NFPA and Sparky Facebook pages, which showcase the widespread passion and dedication brought to this year’s campaign.
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