Topic: Building & Life Safety

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When it comes to fire safety in high rise buildings, sprinklers trump!

Having just recently visited the Trump Tower in New York City, the headlines of “Fire Controlled in the Chicago Trump Tower” caught my attention. Perusing just the lower floors of the Tower in New York provided a sense of the size and magnitude of these tremendous buildings and what it would take to respond to a fire on an upper floor.  And though evacuation plans and emergency systems may be in place, in the event of a fire, nothing “trumps” fire sprinklers when it comes to protecting lives and property. The recent press release by the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board points out the glaring difference in outcomes of fires that have recently occurred in Chicago high rise buildings that had sprinklers and those that did not.  And while many cities, like Chicago, are trying to catch up to national model codes, in some cases it may not be fast enough. As customers, buyers, and tenants, we must take the responsibility to protect ourselves through education.  It is vital to know the facts about fire sprinklers and also to investigate if they are installed in the places where we choose to live and stay.  Whether it's a long term residence or an overnight stay in a hotel, we have the power to choose the level of life-safety protection that we are willing to accept. Take a moment to read and share the educational resources that NFPA provides on high rise safety, fire sprinklers, and hotel/motel safety!
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Should you sleep with your bedroom door closed? NFPA's Educational Messages Advisory Committee will discuss this issue at its March 2016 meeting

Recent media coverage and new Underwriters Laboratories (UL) research has brought to the forefront again the issue of whether fire and life safety educators should be saying people should sleep with bedroom doors shut to be safer from fire. NFPA's Educational Messages Advisory Committee (EMAC) has reviewed the issue in the past and determined that if residents sleep with bedroom doors closed, it is important that they have interconnected smoke alarms. EMAC will meet March 30-31 at NFPA headquarters in Quincy, MA and is slated to discuss the topic again. And whether or not sleeping with the bedroom door closed should be added to EMAC messaging. EMAC will review new UL research documents, media clips, and other documentation submitted before making a determination on NFPA's official position. NFPA is accepting comments for revision to the EMAC document through February 26, 2016. UL research shows how a closed door can keep smoke out of a bedroom longer as well as change the flow of heat and toxic gases, acting as a shield for someone trapped and unable to get out of a fire. NFPA stresses the importance of having a working smoke alarm inside each bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the best protection, smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds they all sound. Read the full story and watch the videos of each of the UL tests for more information.
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A little boy dressed up as a smoke alarm is an inspiration

Schoolchildren across the nation are not only reading their favorite books all this month during National Reading Month, they're dressing up based on the characters and themes from the stories. A little boy in San Antonio, Texas, offers inspiration for children reading stories with a fire safety theme, like The Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms, or Sparky's Birthday Surprise on the Sparky School House website. When three-year-old Noah Keck's parents asked him last year what he wanted to dress up as for Halloween he said he wanted to be a smoke alarm. His father, Chad Keck, was not surprised. “Noah has leukemia and spent a lot of time in the hospital when he was originally diagnosed and was also stuck at home and started noticing things that others might not pay attention to.” He says Noah was initially afraid of the smoke alarms, but he and his wife, Zahra, assured Noah that the alarms were there to protect him. Chad says these days, nearly everywhere they go, Noah–who is now four years old–points out the smoke alarms and asks if they have fresh batteries. Whenever they pass the neighborhood fire station, Noah loves to check on the trucks. They are either “sleeping” or out “helping” someone because of a fire. Noah's costume was made by his grandmother. “He did go trick-or-treating on our street and the reactions were overwhelming,” said Chad. “Nearly everyone wanted to take a picture of Noah and his costume. Many said it was the best costume they'd ever seen.” Chad says Noah is doing well. He's been on daily treatment for his illness since his first birthday, spending months in the hospital and since then has had almost daily clinic visits. If all goes well, his treatment will be tapered off later this year. His parents say he has been an inspiration to many other children at the clinic. He is also a little fire safety ambassador who found a creative way to spread the message about the importance of having working smoke alarms, whether for Halloween, National Reading Month, Fire Prevention Week, or any other time of the year.
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February, the month of love ... and kitchen safety!

I came across a great little article today in the Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser (out of England) called "Make sure you guard against fire this Valentine's Day." It caught my eye because of its focus on kitchen fire safety in the month of February. So, okay, maybe we don't celebrate Pancake Day or National Chip Week here in the States this month, but we do celebrate Valentine's Day which beckons plenty of bakers and would-be home chefs to take a stab at putting together creative and tasteful dishes for the ones they love.  According to the article, the Brits love their fish and chips so it stands to reason that during National Chip Week (February 16 - 22 for those who want to partake), the risk of a cooking fire accident increases because of the many hot, oily pans used. Well, the same can be said for those of us doing a bit of frying here in our own homes. Let's face it, cooking with hot oil can be dangerous any time, anywhere, if you don't follow a few important rules: Always stay in the kitchen when frying on the stovetop. Keep an eye on what you fry. 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 or sautéing. Add food gently to the pot or 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.  So no matter what kitchen you find yourself in this month, and especially on Valentine's Day, if you plan on creating a meal that includes hot oil, please play it safe and focus on the task at hand (ahem, cooking!). Save the gifts and kisses for after the dishes are done! Happy Valentine's Day everyone! For more information about cooking fire safety, check out NFPA's Cooking Fire Safety Central webpage today.

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.
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