May issue of Safety Source includes: Electrical Safety Month, burglar bars are examined, end of school year ideas & more

By Fire Safety, NFPA

The May issue of Safety Source, NFPA's public education enewsletter, is now available for viewing. In this issue, you will find;  

  • Electrical safety month information
  • Burglar bars examined in fatal TX fire
  • End-of-the-school-year ideas on fire safety
  • Care and Maintenance: new projects on long-term health of firefighters 

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Study shows older adults are on the right track for fall prevention

By Fire Safety, NFPA

Recent statistics gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that just over 59% of the U.S. population 65 and over didn’t meet muscle strengthening or aerobic exercise recommendations for physical activity. A team of researchers decided to examine the issue more closely. In interviews conducted for the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) among people 65 and older who lived in the community studied, 5,247 women and men were asked to name their favorite activities.

The most frequently mentioned were walking/jogging; outdoor maintenance; playing sports; reading; and “other” physical activity. With the exception of reading, all of the top five were physical activities.

These findings are encouraging. Exercising regularly is one of the key fall prevention messages of NFPA’s Remembering When™: A Fire and Fall Prevention Program for Older Adults. Statistics show that 30 percent of people age 65 and older are involved in falls each year; some of these falls are fatal while others are permanently disabling.

Keeping in mind the NHATS findings, public educators and others implementing the Remembering When program in their communities can know that a vast number of older adults will be receptive to their suggestions to step up the physical activity. 

Unattended candles at center of dorm fire

By Fire Safety, NFPA

Twelve students had to be relocated from their USC dorm after a late-night mattress fire on Sunday. According to NBC Los Angeles, the fire, quickly put out by the Los Angeles Fire Department, caused $2,500 in damage, more than half to the structure itself. About 60 people had to evacuate. No one was injured.

Fire investigators determined that candles that were briefly left unattended caused the fire. Fire sprinklers held the smoky fire in check before 20 firefighters put out the fire entirely.

NFPA’s College Campus Fire Safety tips sheet advises burning candles only if they’re permitted by the school, placing them away from anything that can burn and never leaving a candle unattended. The Candle Safety tips sheet reminds us of the option of flameless candles that look and smell like real candles.

According to NBC Los Angeles, students said the dorm fire sent a strong message and that they would start taking the rule against candle use in the dorms seriously.

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In April's issue of Safety Source: new Shabbat fire safety tip sheet, carbon monoxide educational resources & more

Carbon Monoxide Poisonings Prompt Federal Legislation

By Fire Safety, NFPA

After many carbon monoxide (CO) deaths across the United States over the winter and last few months, U.S.Senators from New York, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania reintroduced legislation yesterday that would allow the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to provide resources that support public education and installation of CO alarms.   Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas  and is known as the “invisible killer.”  This poisonous gas can come from many sources, including incomplete combustion in cars, malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances, and incomplete combustion in engine-powered equipment. The only way to detect CO is with a working CO alarm. NFPA and CPSC  have teamed up to create a carbon monoxide community toolkit. It has everything you need to raise awareness in your community about the dangers of CO. You can also use the Carbon Monoxide Safety tips sheet to learn more about CO safety.

Add safety to the Mother’s Day menu

By Fire Safety, NFPA

For Mother’s Day, my father and I like to take my mother and an aunt to a fine dining restaurant in the Connecticut countryside that features a floor to ceiling stone fireplace and panoramic view of a lush landscape. We make the rounds at the buffet, which includes an omelet station, carved filet mignon, shrimp and scallop scampi and dozens of other choices of diet-busting meals and desserts.

Once we’ve filled our plates and taken our seats in the grand ballroom, the wait staff serves us our coffee. As I look around at the other 275 diners, I can’t help but wonder if we could all exit in an orderly fashion if there was a fire emergency and whether or not everyone knows their second way out if the front door becomes blocked as NFPA’s escape planning information advises.

NFPA’s Safety in Places of Public Assembly tips sheet is also a great resource and says the following:

  • Before you enter a building, take a good look. Does the building appear to be in a good condition that makes you feel comfortable?
  • Have a communications plan. Identify a relative or friend to contact in case of emergency and you are separated from family or friends.
  • Plan a meeting place. Pick a meeting place outside to meet family or friends with whom you are attending the function.

The tips sheet also provides details on what to do when you enter the building and how to handle an emergency.

NFPA public education committee member is honored with award

By Fire Safety, NFPA

Angela D. Mickalide, PhD, MCHES, principal investigator and program director, Emergency Medical Services for Children's National Resource Center at Children’s National Health System and member of NFPA’s Educational Messages Advisory Committee (EMAC), has received the 2015 American Burn Association Burn Prevention Award, presented at the opening plenary at the 47th Annual Meeting in Chicago last month. 

Over the course of her career, Dr. Mickalide has been engaged in fire and burn prevention initiatives.  At the Home Safety Council, she led education and outreach efforts for several award-winning FEMA-funded programs.

During her nearly two decades at Safe Kids Worldwide, she was responsible for the organization's domestic and global programs, as well as its research in unintentional childhood injury risk areas, including fire and burn safety programs.

Dr. Mickalide has been a member of EMAC since 2011. The committee of fire and life safety experts meets periodically to review NFPA’s fire safety education messages and provide recommendations to NFPA public education staff for updating and revising the Educational Messages Desk Reference, a standardized guide of fire and life safety messages.

Thousands learn of the dangers of sky lanterns

By Fire Safety, NFPA

Sky lanterns have become increasingly popular as a way to celebrate. But they pose a serious fire hazard and their use is prohibited by NFPA. Thousands of spectators who attended a lantern festival recently in Gastonia, North Carolina, got to see the dangers of sky lanterns up close.

According to Time Warner News Cable–Charlotte, as the sun set on the Carolina Speedway, thousands of lanterns filled the sky. But then the wind shifted, pushing burning lanterns into a nearby cell tower, causing it to catch on fire.

The Union Road Volunteer Fire Department was already on hand in case of emergency, but the ladder truck couldn’t reach the fire, there were no hydrants nearby, and it wasn’t the kind of fire the department had fought before. It took 20 firefighters, nearly 6,000 gallons of water, and help from a neighboring department to put the fire out. No one was injured.

NFPA’s Sky Lanterns Safety tips sheet provides information on the hazards of sky lanterns and details on recent fires involving them.

If not for sprinkler system Minnesota fire could have been much worse

By Fire Safety, NFPA

A sprinkler system is being credited with containing a fire at a Minnesota senior citizen high rise this week.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, the fire in the city of Hibbing drew a full response from the Hibbing Fire Department and neighboring departments. However, when firefighters arrived the fire had already been contained by the sprinkler system. The building houses senior citizen apartments, an Elks Club banquet center, and an orthodontics clinic.

Firefighters arrived in response to an automatic fire alarm that was triggered. They found smoke coming from a vent near the kitchen of the Elks Club and tenants starting to evacuate the building.

The fire was down to a smolder. Crews put out the remaining smoldering material and ventilated the smoke from the banquet room.

This incident underscores the importance of a home fire sprinkler system. NFPA’s High-rise Apartment and Condominium Safety tips sheet advises that for the best protection, select a fully sprinklered building and be prepared with an escape plan–know the location of all available exit stairs from your floor in case the nearest exit is blocked by fire or smoke. If there is a fire, pull the alarm on your way out. The Home Fire Sprinklers section of the NFPA web site and the tips sheet provide background on how sprinkler systems work, their effectiveness, and cost.

Fire Marshal Fagerstrom determined that the fire was accidental. A steam table overheated and ignited a wood buffet table. He stressed the importance of having a properly maintained sprinkler system.

“The sprinkler system in this fire was serviced and maintained per code and did exactly as it should by containing the fire and keeping it from spreading,” he said in a news release.