Safety Source

Chelsea Tegtmeier

South Metro Fire Rescue presents tactics and strategies for CRR among older adults

Chelsea Tegtmeier, a CRR specialist with South Metro Fire Rescue in Colorado, recently shared an overview of her team’s CRR efforts during a “Kitchen Table” meeting - a monthly CRR forum hosted by NFPA. During her presentation, Tegtmeier outlined the strategies she and her team used to identify the most vulnerable populations within their district and to create a plan that effectively addressed the leading safety risks among them. To begin, Tegtmeier and her team conducted a data-driven risk assessment of the entire district, which includes 30 fire stations covering almost 600,000 citizens. Their goal was to ensure their safety interventions were having an impact on true risks faced by the community. Using various resources, including NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, they identified four community risk priorities through the CRA process: Wildfire Residential fires Motor vehicle crashes Older adult injuries After prioritizing risks, Tegtmeier’s team focused on older adults and looked to the data to identify specific hazards, neighborhoods, and living situations correlated to risks. The data for this population showed that 40% of EMS calls to South Metro Fire Rescue were from people ages 65 and older. Twenty-five percent (25%) of those calls were the result of falls, with 66% of those calls from older adults aging in place (at home), and 22% in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. In addition, one in four fire fatalities was among the same age group. Considering a host of root causes that impact risk among older adults - poverty, isolation, mobility, resources, housing quality, language, and disability – Tegtmeier and her team developed a plan to support older adults in the community. This included establishing goals, developing strategies, and identifying audiences in group facilities and those who were aging in place. In addition, because community partners played a key role in the South Metro CRR initiative, they identified who else in the community was addressing fall prevention, such as the health department, local agencies on aging, hospitals, and volunteer groups. From there, they developed a collaborative approach to implement strategies framed by the 5 E’s of CRR. Some of the tactics include: Creating resources (i.e., videos) to better educate older adults on how to safely get up from falls if they haven’t incurred an injury and offering monthly classes to address fall prevention, partnering with the fire marshal’s office to educate communities on life safety code requirements, including evacuation requirements and fire drills educating internal staff about resources available for the community to ensure that groups and individuals are directed accordingly Tegtmeier also highlighted factors that have helped implement these and associated plans, such as preparing a timeline with milestones; assigning tasks and responsibilities; communicating goals and expectations; and regularly monitoring progress. While the team analyzes their efforts on a quarterly basis to measure and monitor goals, Tegtmeier notes that things pop up all the time that they didn’t expect. In the end, she said they follow this motto: “If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan, not the goal.” South Metro Fire Rescue’s efforts showcase the essential elements of an impactful community risk reduction (CRR) plan and the value of conducting a community risk assessment (CRA) to pinpoint who in the community most often needs emergency assistance and why. If you would like to join the NFPA CRR Kitchen Table sessions and/or view Chelsea Tegtmeier’s full presentation, please contact Last but not least, if you’re ready to start your own data-driven CRA, learn about CRAIG 1300™! Created specifically for fire departments and public safety advocates, CRAIG 1300 is a digital data tool that can help easily access and analyze the information you need to understand when and where leading safety risks exist in your community.
dog on the porch

Keep your pets fire safe this National Pet Day

April 11 marks #nationalpetday, and this week on social media people are posting pictures of their beloved animals like my Bubba, age 4, pictured here. People often ask about how to include their pets, especially the four-legged ones, as part of their home fire safety plan. The 2020 edition of the NFPA Educational Messages for Fire & Life Safety Desk Reference contains a new Pet Fire Safety chapter featuring key educational messages for use in fire and life safety (FLS) education.  Many of those messages can be found in NFPA’s Pet Fire Safety Tip Sheet, available as a free download with the ability to co-brand for use in FLS education efforts. One key tip to keep your pets safe from fire is by keeping them (and kids!) three feet (1 meter) from stoves/ovens, firepits, and heating appliances. Pets and candles certainly don’t mix, with battery operated flameless candles a much safer option to prevent burns and home fires from. Pets can also be included in home wildfire preparedness plans by building an evacuation kit for each pet in the household and practicing that plan. NFPA’s Pet Wildfire Evacuation Video provides practical tips to prepare pets of all shapes and sizes for evacuation. What to do with pets when planning and practicing Home Fire Escape is a common question. Today’s home fires burn hotter and faster than ever, giving occupants as little as two minutes to get out safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds.  It is of critical importance that all people in the home have a plan for safe escape which includes an outside meeting place. People should not take extra time to search for animals in the home when trying to escape and should never go back into a fire to try and rescue a pet.  Instead let firefighters know if there are any animals still inside. Show your pet some extra love by protecting them from fire and burns this National Pet Day and every day. 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.
Varnishing a chair

As warmer weather nears, NFPA offers 6 key tips to safely tackle spring cleaning

Melted snow, budding trees, longer days: they’re all signs that the warmer months are nearing. For many of us, these seasonal hallmarks are reminders to start spring cleaning in and around our homes. As people power up their lawnmowers, rake up debris, touch up chipped paint, and take on myriad projects to get their homes and yards ready for the months ahead, following are six key practices and supporting recommendations to help minimize the risk of fires and associated hazards: Properly use and store gasoline Use gasoline only as motor fuel, never as a cleaner or to break down grease. Only store gasoline in a container that is sold for that purpose and never bring it indoors, even in small amounts. Never store gasoline containers in a basement or in the occupied space of a building. Keep them in a detached garage or an outdoor shed. Make sure the container is tightly capped when not in use. Carefully dispose of rags with paint and stain The oils commonly used in oil-based paints and stains release heat as they dry. If the heat is not released in the air as the rags dry, the heat is trapped, builds up and can cause a fire. Never leave cleaning rags in a pile. When you’re finished using the rags, take them outside to dry, keeping them well away from the home and other structures. Hang rags outside or spread them on the ground and weigh them down so that they don’t blow away. Put dried rags in a metal container, making sure the container is tightly covered. Fill the container with a water and detergent solution, which will break down the oils. Keep containers of oily rags in a cool place out of direct sunlight and away from other heat sources. Check with your town for information on how to properly dispose of them. Use/store flammable and combustible liquids with care Flammable and combustible liquids should not be used near an open flame. Never smoke when working with these liquids. If you spill liquids on your clothing, remove your clothing and place it outside to dry. Once dry, clothing can be laundered. Keep liquids in their original containers. Keep them tightly capped or sealed. Never store the liquids in glass containers. Use and/or share our Safety with oily rags tip sheet, which includes the above tips and more. Inspect grills to ensure they’re in good working order Inspect your grill carefully and make sure it’s free of grease or fat buildup. Clean out any nests, spider webs, or other debris you may find. For propane grills, check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Keep debris well away from your home Every year, wildfires burn across the U.S., with more and more people living in communities where wildfires are a real risk. Dispose of branches, weeds, leaves, pine needles, and grass clippings to reduce fuel for fire. Remove leaves, pine needles, and other flammable material from the roof, gutters, and on or under the deck to help prevent embers from igniting your home. Remove dead vegetation and other flammable materials, especially within the first five feet of the home. Move construction material, trash, and woodpiles at least 30 feet away from the home and other outbuildings. Clean out your clothes dryer Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe for your dryer is not restricted and that the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating. This includes making sure the outdoor vent flap is not covered by snow. Move things that can burn, such as boxes, cleaning supplies and clothing, away from the dryer. Clothes that have come in contact with flammable substances like gasoline, paint thinner, or similar solvents should be laid outside to dry, then can be washed and dried as usual.
Sparky in 1951

Not Your Mother’s Stop, Drop, and Roll: Evolution of a Key Fire Safety Message

Few phrases have such a long history in our modern vocabulary as “Stop, Drop, and Roll," developed and promoted in the 1970s to teach people, especially children, what to do if their clothes caught on fire. Back then, teaching Stop, Drop, and Roll (SDR) provided a critical life- saving skill to children and adults, as annually 500 – 750 people died due clothing ignition. A lot has changed since the 70s, especially among children and fire safety. In 2015-2019, there were an annual average 150 clothing ignition home fire deaths, with 6% of the victims under the age of 15, and 75% of those aged 55 and older. While any death is unacceptable, it brings to bear the question of what skills we are teaching and to whom.   Stop, Drop, and Roll has long been a favorite for our Fire and Life Safety (FLS) educators to teach young children –, active, and keeps kids engaged. But is it always the developmentally appropriate thing to teach? A recent NFPA Learn Something New video Is Stop, Drop, and Roll still relevant? discusses the shifts in our fire safety landscape and the context within which SDR belongs.   Those shifts are underscored in the NFPA Report Fire Safety in the U.S. Since 1980, which brings to bear some key points for FLS educators to consider in selecting topics and audiences for their efforts: Fire deaths of children under five have dramatically declined, while home fire deaths of people 65 and older have remained virtually unchanged at about 1 in 3. While there are fewer home fires and fire deaths in the U.S., home fires burn hotter and faster due to synthetic fabrics, lightweight construction materials, and open floor plans, leaving occupants with as little as two minutes to safely escape. Cooking is the only major cause of fire that resulted in more home fires and fire deaths in 2014-2018 than in 1980-1984. At the crux of this discussion is not that we shouldn’t teach SDR, it’s how and when we teach SDR. NFPA’s Know When to Stop, Drop, and Roll lesson plan is part of the core-aligned Learn Not to Burn curriculum. This lesson is for first grade, as children under six are generally not developmentally able to understand the context for when and why to engage in SDR. I’ve had the experience, as have many FLS educators, of asking young children what to do when the smoke alarm sounds, only to have them yell, “Stop, Drop, and Roll!” enthusiastically. The success of this message has become our confounder, unintentionally making it a catch-all response for any fire safety situation. Add to the mix the increased intensity and speed of today’s home fires, and the emphasis for young children (and across the lifespan) must be on recognizing the sound of the smoke alarm and planning and practicing Home Fire Escape. These are the skills that are part of the building blocks, and more likely to be needed by today’s home occupants, making them a primary focus for FLS efforts. 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.
cleaning supplies

Include Carbon Monoxide Prevention as Part of Your Spring Cleaning

Social media outlets are full of #Springcleaning tips to prepare your home and wardrobe for the warmer weather.  Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning prevention should be part of that effort.   CO is an odorless, colorless gas emitted from the incomplete combustion of fuel burning appliances such as furnaces, cooking appliances, and portable generators.  If it burns fuel, it produces CO. What to add to your "to do" list? Clean fireplace, wood/fuel burning stove, and other chimneys annually to make sure debris and animals nesting haven’t blocked air flow. Have your furnace and heating equipment inspected annually or according to manufacturer's instructions. Use portable generators OUTDOORS at least 20 feet away from your home, and downwind of open vents or doors. Gas and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors, never indoors or in a garage Take a walk – around your home to check and clean all outdoor vents including the dryer vent. CO is called the silent killer because people cannot smell or see it and the effects of CO mimic flu-like symptoms and make people disoriented.  Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.  For the best protections, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home so that when one sounds, they all sound. NFPA’s Carbon Monoxide Safety Tip sheet also available in Spanish (CO) and Carbon Monoxide Safety Community Toolkit, are available for free download to use in your Fire and Life Safety education efforts.   NFPA’s Educational Messages Desk Reference contains the compilation of key FLS messages related to CO and related fire, burn, and hazard prevention messages so that you can tailor your messaging to your audience.  No matter the season, there’s always a reason to include CO education in your efforts! 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.
NFPA 1300 and a shake

Community safety requires more than luck – and sometimes includes breaking from tradition

Each year in late February, my younger son makes the same announcement: “Let’s Go! They’re here!” What he’s referring to is that decadent St. Patrick’s Day treat, the McDonald’s Shamrock Shake®. At least once before March 17, I happily oblige with a trip to the golden arches. In recent years, I’ve had a dilemma at the drive-through now that the new Oreo® Shamrock McFlurry® is an option: Do I mix things up and order it, considering chocolate and mint is one of my favorite combinations? Or should I stay true to the classic minty shake, a tradition I’ve followed for years? It’s important to note that I have great respect for traditions. Professionally, however, tradition has become a bit of a trigger word for me. After years of working with the fire service, I am passionate about the value that Community Risk Reduction (CRR) brings to the table, but I know there are folks who have not yet embraced this strategy. I was once labeled a “tradition killer” by a firefighter who hadn’t yet bought in to CRR and it was a good reminder of the challenges ahead.  As I moved forward with our CRR initiatives, a nagging voice in the back of my mind reminded me to consider the disruption CRR brings to a profession rich with tradition. Still, the words of my boss, Lorraine Carli, vice president for outreach and advocacy at NFPA, provided clarity around the difference being rooted in tradition and being stuck in it, and the importance of recognizing the difference, at the first IAFC CRR Leadership Conference in 2019. “We cannot allow our peers and colleagues to prevent innovation under the guise of tradition,” said Carli. “The true tradition of the fire service is to protect and serve. CRR allows us to do this by getting ahead of that 911 call and addressing risks before they become incidents. It allows us to enhance tradition with technology, with data, and with improvements that match the current landscape. The result is a modern fire department making data-driven decisions to guide tailored prevention efforts.” These words have stuck with me ever since, reminding me that CRR is not disrespectful of fire service traditions. Instead, it uses all the resources we have at our disposal today to help fire departments keep the public safe. CRR is an innovation the elevates the brand of the fire service, while the protect-and-serve tradition of the fire service provides the roots for this savvy approach to ensure community safety. Whether or not you have the luck of the Irish on your side, community safety initiatives are enhanced by a data-driven risk assessment, by rich partnerships and stakeholder engagement, and by matching resources to priority risks in an organized risk reduction plan. If you are looking for a starting point with CRR check out NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development. While you do that, I’ll going to branch out and try that Oreo Shamrock McFlurry.

Learn, network, and engage at the 2022 Spotlight on Public Education Conference

NFPA’s premiere Spotlight on Public Education (SOPE) conference is an exciting and cost-effective way to connect (in person!) with fire & life safety content and professionals from a wide range of specialties.  Now in its sixth year, SOPE takes place Monday and Tuesday, June 6 & 7* at the 2022 NFPA Conference and Expo in Boston, Massachusetts. This “conference within a conference” geared towards fire and life safety (FLS) educators, burn prevention, injury prevention, and public health education professionals, provides professional development and networking opportunities over the course of the 2-day event.   SOPE registration includes: Eight education sessions with a focus on fire and life safety education with available CEU’s Dedicated SOPE lounge area available for networking A seat at general session on Monday, June 6 NFPA ExpoAdvantage™ admission with three-day access to the Expo floor and related benefits *Admission to the “Community Risk Assessment: Leading with Insights” workshop held on Wednesday, June 8 from 8am – noon.  After two years of virtual conferencing, this year’s SOPE will be held in person at the Boston Convention Center located in the exciting Seaport District of Boston, Massachusetts. Featured sessions include: Steps to Safety™: A Community Approach to Preventing Fire and Falls Among Older Adults (hint: an exciting update to the Remembering When™ program!) Fire & Life Safety Educational Messaging in Schools: Best Practices from the NFPA Educational Messages Advisory Committee Best Practices in Youth Fire-setting Education and Intervention—Creating a "No-Fear Zone" Spicing Up Your Fire Prevention Week™ Toolkit The Impact of Drug Use on Fire Risk in General Population and Older Adults Using Virtual Reality to Communicate the Benefits of Home Fire Sprinklers Applying Community Risk Assessment Data in Unexpected and Extraordinary Ways Fire Safety in the United States since 1980 All this for $95 if you REGISTER for Spotlight on Public Education by March 28. Space is limited – Register early! Follow me on Twitter @AndreaVastis and follow Sparky the Fire Dog® on Twitter, Facebook  and NFPA on Instagram to keep up with the latest in Fire and Life Safety education.
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