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Slow cookers, crockpots and (small) appliance fire safety, oh, my!

No matter where you look these days, the use of slow cookers and crockpots are on the rise. From stews to soups and even desserts, there's nothing better than applying that “set it and forget it” mentality when it comes to preparing meals for families on the go. But did you know that while slow cookers are generally safe, we still need to be mindful of the dangers they pose. According to NFPA, slow cookers were involved in an estimated average of 150 reported home structure fires per year from 2007 - 2011, resulting in an average of 10 civilian injuries and $2 million in direct property damage annually. In terms of accidents, it ranks up there with other smaller household appliances you may not ever think of like your coffee maker or teapot, food warmer and hotplates, and kettles. While the chance of an accident happening while using a slow cooker or crockpot is somewhat low, our fire safety experts here at NFPA suggest some great tips to consider whenever you're using some of these smaller appliances: Inspect plugs and cords to make sure they are not frayed or broken (replace if necessary), which will help keep electrical fires at bay Keep the crockpot and slow cooker (or other small appliance) away from the edge of the counter so hands and elbows don't push it off the edge causing burns or scalds from the hot liquid and food inside Follow instructions for recipes carefully using the right amount of liquid and heat when preparing your meal to prevent overheating So the next time you find yourself using your slow cooker (and if you're like most of us here in New England these days, you're probably using it regularly to ward off the cold!) follow these simple tips above to keep yourself and your family safe. Learn more about kitchen fire safety on NFPA's Cooking Fire Safety Central webpage. Interested to learn about this and other cooking equipment fires? NFPA's Home Structure Fires by Equipment Involved in Ignition report can be found in our research/reports section of the website.

Fire Prevention Week past and present

 The history of Fire Prevention Week is very interesting. In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire  Prevention Day proclamation, and since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has  been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9  falls. According to the National Archives and Records Administration's  Library Information Center, Fire Prevention Week is the longest running  public health and safety observance on record. The President of the  United States has signed a proclamation proclaiming a national  observance during that week every year since 1925.Wow! As NFPA gears up for Fire Prevention Week 2013, Prevent Kitchen Fires, I read through the themes of the past. Here are just a few: 1928 FIRE…Do Your Part – Stop This Waste!1947 YOU caused 1,700,000 Fires last Year!1948 Help Yourself to Fire Prevention!1949 Flameproof Your Future!1950 Don't Let Fire Lick You1951 Defend America From Fire1959 Fire Prevention is Your Job…Too1995 Watch What You Heat: Prevent Home Fires! Although the campaign themes have wording we might not use today, the general theme remains the same since 1922. Fire Prevention is all encompassing. We need everyone from the fire service, teachers, parents and children to keep people safe from fire.  Whether you are a local business looking to educate staff on kitchen safety, classroom teachers educating students on what to do if the smoke alarms sounds or firefighters giving a presentation to older adults in the community, the Fire Prevention Week web site has information and tools for everyone. I think my favorite past theme is from 1979, Partners in Fire Prevention. This says it all! We are all in this together. Take a look at past themes and let me know which is your favorite.

Make Sure Emergency Evacuation Planning is Part of Every Student's IEP

I had a media call last week from a reporter who wanted to know what information we had on school fire drills for students with disabilities - especially those students in wheelchairs. NFPA has created a guide to help students with disabilities, teachers, administrators, parents, and others lookat some of the issues that are relevant to a student's ability to evacuate a building in the event of an emergency. Preplanning emergency evacuation for every student with a disability should be as important as the language arts support the child requires in order to reach his or her full potential. Every parent of a child with an IEP (Individual Education Program) should print out Personal Emergency Evacuation Planning Tool for School Students with Disabilities (when you go to this link, scroll down the page to "For public educators" and you will find the student planning guide), bring it to your school and have your child's IEP team complete the guide. The guide provides a checklist that includes the student's personal evacuation plan. Things included are the student's schedule (day, time, room), emergency notification device needs, a plan to evacuate the student from the building, type of assistance needed, assistants assigned to help the student and information on service animal needs. This guide should be completed for every student with an IEP and become part of the student's program which is reviewed at least once a year. In addition to parents advocating for inclusion of this guide in a student's IEP, the local fire department can play an important role. I challenge fire departments to meet with school officials, provide a copy of Personal Emergency Evacuation Planning Tool for School Students with Disabilities (when you go to this link, scroll down the page to "For public educators" and you will find the student planning guide) and encourage the school system to include this important information as part of every student's education plan. Let me know if you are able to make evacuation planning available for every child who receives special education and related services.

800 reasons why fire prevention is important

Phoenix  Society Executive Director speaks following the Walk of Remembrance at World Burn Congress I spent the last couple of days at one of the most inspirational events, not just for those devoted to fire and life safety, but for anyone. The Phoenix Society's 24th Annual World Burn Congress continues through tomorrow in Milwaukee, WI. The event brings together more than 800 burn survivors, family members, friends, caregivers and advocates to support and learn from each other and to learn about and promote programs, policies and legislative action that can prevent fires and provide resources to those who have been effected by fire. The stories are many and varied from a child burned at a campfire and a young lady now in her 20's who was burned at the age of two in a fire at her home to a woman who was severely burned trying to rescue her child from a fire many years ago to older adults who have devoted their entire lives to being positive role models for other burn survivors. But they share the same reason for attending – to be amongst those with similar struggles and give and or take away lessons to make them stronger. Amy Acton, executive director of the Phoenix Society, herself a burn survivor, opened the conference with the story of how she was injured in an accident 30 years ago. She recounted the journey that brought her to the Phoenix Society and how she benefited from the organizations core activities – peer support, education and advocacy. I met Amy when NFPA began the Fire Safe Cigarette Coalitionin 2006. The Phoenix Society signed on to help bring the personal stories of the impact of fire to the debate to require cigarette manufacturers to produce and sell only cigarettes that are less likely to cause fires. In just a few years, every state passed such legislation and according to recent NFPA data, we are already seeing a significant decrease in the leading cause of home fire deaths. Those voices made a difference. Faces of Fire advocate Princella Lee Bridges joins a fellow attendee, Jessica Platt at World Burn Congress When NFPA launched the Fire Sprinkler Initiative, a project to increase home fire sprinkler requirements, we again joined with the Phoenix Society to help tell the stories of the devastating consequences of home fires and how such tragedies can be avoided with the inclusion of home fire sprinklers in new construction. NFPA facts and figures were complimented with the Faces of Fire Campaign, which profiles individuals whose lives have been changed by fire. Some are burn survivors. Others are firefighters, building officials and builders. Many of those “faces” came to us with the assistance of the Phoenix Society. Those voices continue to make a difference.  The World Burn Congress is a poignant reminder that fire prevention should be top of mind and top of action every day of the year. But with Fire Prevention Week just around the corner there is an opportunity to make sure we are doing everything we can to reduce the number of people who need the services of the Phoenix Society and all the other groups working so hard to help those whose lives have been altered by fire.    
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