Safety Source

Sparky and a group of kids

This Year’s Fire Prevention Week, October 9–15, Is More Important than Ever

At its core, Fire Prevention Week™ is a grassroots campaign that thousands of fire departments and safety advocates bring to life in their communities each year, delivering basic but critical home fire safety messages that better educate the public about home fire risks and how to prevent them. NFPA® statistics show a steady decline in the number of fires occurring in US homes over the past few decades. The work done in support of Fire Prevention Week each year has no doubt played a part in this progress. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the nation’s home fire death rate, which has stagnated in recent years. In fact, you’re more likely to die in a home fire today than you were in 1980. These numbers tell us that while we’ve made great strides in teaching people how to prevent home fires from happening, there’s still more work to do when it comes to educating the public about the speed at which fires grow and spread, the small window of time they have to escape from the time the smoke alarm sounds, and how to use that time wisely to get out as quickly and safely as possible. As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week this October 9–15 and all that has been accomplished in reducing the fire problem over the past century, this year’s theme, “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape™,” addresses pressing challenges that remain. With the campaign just around the corner, we encourage all fire departments and safety advocates to take full advantage of the materials and resources available on our Fire Prevention Week website at www.firepreventionweek.org. A previous blog I wrote highlights the many ways the campaign can be promoted locally, whether it’s posting social media cards on your social platforms, hosting community events, sending a news release to local news outlets, or teaching age-appropriate lesson plans in the classroom—to name just a few. And there’s still time to do it! Much of this outreach can be completed quickly and easily. Overall, the public needs to learn about the value of home escape planning and practice more than ever. Fire Prevention Week presents an ideal opportunity to share these critical messages. Doing all we can to make sure as many people as possible hear and benefit from them can truly help increase their safety from fire.

Falls Prevention Awareness

“Falls prevention is a team effort” is a key theme of this year’s Falls Prevention Awareness Week hosted by the National Council on Aging Center for Healthy Aging. This campaign raises awareness for older adults, their caregivers, and health care professionals about the increased risks and impacts of falls on those aged 65+. Fifty-two million Americans aged 65 or older make up 16 percent of the total US population. Yet they experience disproportionate injuries and deaths from fires and falls—twice the general population when it comes to fires. Falls are the leading cause of death from unintentional injuries for older adults, with nearly 1 in 3 seniors—that’s 17 million people—suffering a fall each year. This year’s Fire Prevention Week™ (FPW™) theme “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.™” pays particular attention to the needs of older adults in planning to safely escape their home in the event of fire.  Preventing slips, trips, and falls when evacuating is of key importance considering people may have as little as 2 minutes to safely escape their home.  Key fall prevention for safe home escape tips for older adults include:  Remove clutter in the hallways, stairways, and near exits/windows for a clear, safe path out of your home. Make sure all windows and doors can open in an emergency. If you use a walker or wheelchair, check all exits to be sure you can fit through the doorways. Keep your walker, scooter, cane, or wheelchair by your bed/where you sleep to make sure you can reach it quickly. Keep your eyeglasses, mobile phone, and a flashlight by your bed/where you sleep to be able to reach them quickly in an emergency. Consider sleeping in a room on the ground floor to make emergency escape easier. Fire service, elder care, and public health professionals have a unique opportunity to work together to reduce the growing incidence of injuries and deaths from fires and falls among older adults. As such, NFPA has undertaken a set of enhancements to our legacy Remembering When™ Older Adult Fire and Fall Prevention program, now called Steps to Safety™: Prevent fire and falls at home.   Coming out later this fall, Steps to Safety™ is still focused on pairing fire service with community partners to deliver group presentations, conduct home visits, and create a community network of resources to support older adults and their caregivers. Enhancements include a new online learning curriculum, new videos, and new social media assets.  The program remains rooted in key fire and fall prevention messages, with updated messaging on the role of medications in fire and fall risk. All training and program materials are currently being finalized and will be available on our website at a date to be released in the coming months.  Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis, Sparky the Fire Dog® on Twitter and Facebook and NFPA on Instagram to keep up with the latest in fire and life safety education.
Kids with fire hats

Fire Prevention Week™ Webinar

“Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.™” is the theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week (FPW) held October 9 – 15. The theme highlights the speed with which fire and smoke spread in a home fire, giving residents as little as two minutes or less to escape from the time the smoke alarm sounds. In addition, this October represents the 100th anniversary of FPW, the longest-running public health observance on record in the U.S. View our free webinar to learn about this year’s theme which reinforces the critical importance of developing a home escape plan with all members of the household and practicing it regularly. Learn about the fire science behind the theme along with tools and resources to help your organization have a successful FPW, and what you can do to celebrate 100 years of fire safety. Special guest speaker Wendy Shields, Ph.D., MPH, from Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, will discuss the “The intersection of housing, socioeconomics, and fire.” This webinar is designed specifically for fire and life safety, injury prevention, burn prevention, and public health education professionals to support your efforts to raise awareness of critical fire safety issues, expand your reach in your community, and make an impact on fire injury and death rates.  Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis, Sparky the Fire Dog® on Twitter and Facebook and NFPA on Instagram to keep up with the latest in Fire and Life Safety education.

Use our FREE Fire Prevention Week (FPW) toolkit to make this October a true success in your community!

With Fire Prevention Week™ (FPW™), October 9-15, just over two months away, now is the time to plan for successfully launching the campaign in your community. We have everything you need to put your plans into action. From social media cards, sample news releases, and safety tips sheets to lesson plans, videos and much more, our FPW materials can help you reach your entire community with age-appropriate messages that support this year’s theme, “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.™” Here's a sampling of the resources available from our FPW toolkit: Social media cards: Use our social media cards to promote home escape planning and practice messages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Available in English and Spanish, all cards have been properly sized for the associated platforms. FPW logos: The official FPW logo highlighting this year’s theme, “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.™” is available in multiple sizes and formats; English and Spanish versions are available. Lessons and activities: A home fire escape grid, fire safety action plan, and a smoke alarm safety calendar are just a few of the many educational activities and resources for all ages that you can download and share. Media and communications resources: Ready-to-use press releases, fundraising letters and proclamations can help promote FPW in your community with “fill-in-the-blank” areas to customize information for your community. Ideas and recommendations: If you’re not sure about how to implement FPW in your community, check out our “Out of the Box” section, which offers a host of events, projects, and programs to get your FPW campaign up and running. Of course, this is just a small sampling of all the resources available at www.fpw.org. Visit the site to see everything we offer to help support your FPW efforts. Also, the site is updated periodically, so make sure to check it regularly for new resources and information! Last but not least, the FPW catalog features a wide range of materials you can purchase to support your efforts this October. Products like brochures, banners, and stickers - to name just a few - make it easy to promote and distribute time-tested, age-appropriate information throughout your community.
Sparky parade with Sparky flag

Up your fire safety game with Kahoot!

Fire and Life Safety (FLS) educators know that “meeting people where they are” is one of the keys to providing accurate and consistent fire and burn prevention messaging.  It’s even easier now that NFPA® Kids has teamed up with Kahoot! ACADEMY to bring quality fire safety education where so many of us spend our time – on our phones and computers. Noted as the number one platform for K-12 educators, Kahoot! recently reached eight billion (yes billion!) cumulative participants since its launch in 2013.  NFPA Kids now has a collection of fire safety Kahoots! available so kids of all ages can learn about topics including cooking safety, home fire escape, and smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.  “Home fire safety is a critical element of personal injury prevention,” says April Hart, Program Manager of Public Education Programs at NFPA. “Home fires burn hotter and faster than 50 years ago, but there are ways kids and their families can prevent fire and burns, by acquiring the knowledge and skills to stay safe through these engaging kahoots. Sparky the Fire Dog® is proud to team up with Kahoot! to teach about fire safety in a fun and interactive way!” NFPA’s Division of Public Education is committed to providing FLS, public health, and injury prevention professionals with vetted, quality education materials to use in community education efforts. From lesson plans to safety tip sheets to Sparky School House for educators, and more, these free downloadable assets support the shared mission of eliminating loss of life and property from fire, electrical and related hazards. Check out and follow Sparky the Fire Dog® and NFPA® Kids on Kahoot! Academy to stay up to date on current and new games. Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis, Sparky the Fire Dog® on Twitter and Facebook and NFPA on Instagram to keep up with the latest in Fire and Life Safety education.
Air conditioner

Three Key Steps to Help Reduce Home Electrical Hazards as We Beat the Summer Heat

As more people continue to work from home, all-day computer use, coupled with an increased demand for air conditioning during this summer’s record high temperatures and humidity, can put a strain on home electrical systems. An article in this week’s New York Times, “Heat Wave: Why Home Offices Add to Con Ed’s Stress,” emphasizes this point and highlights the growing concern of the load on New York’s electrical system as the country heads into one of the hottest months of the year. Keep yourself and loved ones safe and reduce the risk of home electrical fires when using air conditioners at home and other equipment needing electricity: Plug air conditioner (A/C) power supply cords directly into wall outlets, without utilizing extension cords, and ensure the circuit is adequately sized for the load of the air conditioner. If the circuit is dedicated to the air conditioner, the ampacity of the air conditioner (found on the nameplate) can be 80 percent of the circuit rating. For example, if the circuit is rated at 20 amps, the air conditioner should draw no more than 16 amps. If there are other loads on the circuit with the air conditioner, the ampacity of the air conditioner (found on the nameplate) can be 50 percent of the circuit rating. So, if there are other loads on a 20-amp circuit, the air conditioner should draw no more than 10 amps. Ensuring your air conditioner is not overloading the circuit it is supplied by will help safeguard your electrical system and your residence. For more information about electrical safety during the summer months and beyond, visit the NFPA home electrical safety webpage.
Fireworks

Stay safe this July 4: Leave fireworks to the professionals

As July 4 weekend fast-approaches, NFPA urges the public to only attend public fireworks displays put on by trained professionals and to avoid use of consumer fireworks, which can cause serious injury and damage due to their unpredictability. The importance of this message is underscored by a new report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) showing a significant upward trend in fireworks-related injuries. Between 2006 and 2021, U.S. fireworks injuries increased by 25%, according to CPSC estimates. Last year, at least nine people died and an estimated 11,500 were injured in incidents involving fireworks. According to the CPSC report, an estimated 1,500 emergency department-treated injuries were associated with firecrackers and 1,100 involved sparklers in 2021. The parts of the body most often injured by fireworks were hands and fingers (an estimated 31 percent of injuries) along with head, face, and ears (an estimated 21 percent). Young adults 20 to 24 years of age had the highest estimated rate of emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries. In terms of fireworks-related fires, NFPA’s latest statistics show that an estimated 19,500 fires in the US were started by fireworks in 2018, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires, and 17,100 outside and other fires. These fires caused five deaths and 46 injuries to civilians and $105 million in property damage. On annual average, more than one-quarter (28 percent) of fireworks fires from 2014-18 occurred on July 4; approximately half (49 percent) of all fires reported on that day were caused by fireworks. Along with the preventable risks that fireworks pose to consumers, the injuries and damage they incur also unnecessarily tax responding fire departments, as well emergency room workers, who are called upon to address these incidents. As first and second responders continue to be responsible for an ever-expanding scope of emergencies, let’s all do our part to lighten their load this July 4, keeping ourselves and others safe in the process. Leave fireworks to the professionals and have a safe, festive holiday. For more facts and information about fireworks, visit NFPA’s fireworks page.
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