Tag Archives: Fire Safety

  • California's Fire Season

    California's Fire Season

    During the few years I spent down in Orange County, CA, I didn’t so much miss the seasons, but I just had to get used to a different set of seasons. Fog season. High surf season. Ugg boots season. And fire season.

    If you’ve never lived through a summer-to-fall in Southern California, it’s hard to describe the brittle dryness of the air; the hot, dusty Santa Ana winds; the sinister orange tint of the sky; or the sharp burn in your throat as ash settles like cottonwood on cars and lawns. Wildfire season is unpleasant at best, and downright scary for those who live in the driest swaths. And California’s worst dry spell in recorded history is making that danger a reality for more and more residents.

    In mid-June, this report surfaced: “California Wildfire Threatens 1,000 More Homes Near Sequoia National Park.” While no injuries or fatalities were logged in relation to this fire, it swallowed three homes and was very hard to contain. Turns out the combination of heat, wind, and acres of brush sucked dry as tinder is exactly what a fire like this needed to grow to disastrous proportions.

    We’ve been watching California’s fires particularly closely this year. For a re-cap, check out our previous posts, “California Wildfires Spread Due to Drought Conditions,” and “Wildfires Plague Southern California.” And whether or not you live within blaze territory, it’s smart to know your wildfire safety. Here are some of our favorite resources:

    • FEMA’s US Fire Administration page has all sorts of free, downloadable materials on wildfire awareness and preparation.
    • We really like Ready.gov’s tip list for what to do before, during, and after a wildfire.
    • The Wildfire Preparedness page from the American Red Cross is organized similarly, and includes guidelines on rebuilding after fire damage.
    • Readyforwildfire.org has fantastic interactive information, video tutorials, links to action plan and emergency kit checklists, and a live Twitter feed from Cal Fire.
    • Everybody’s favorite furry forest ranger, Smokey the Bear, has a whole tab full of games and teaching tools for children and families at SmokeyBear.com/kids.


    What are you doing during the dry season to prepare?


    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, fire season, wildfire, Fire Safety, Current Events

  • How to Prevent Electrical Fires and Burns in Your Home

    |1 COMMENT(S)

    Protect yourself and your loved ones from electrical shocks and burns

    Many of us have experienced the shocking jolt that comes from sticking a paperclip, fork, or other metal object into an exposed power outlet—I know I did when I was a kid, ‘cause it just seemed like a good idea.

    There are plenty of other ways to get electrocuted, however, than just sticking something into a power socket. And, unfortunately, kids (and sometimes adults) don’t often see the dangers that sit right in front of them.

    On average, electrocutions kill 400 people each year, and another 4,400 are injured due to electrical hazards. Needless to say, there’s more we could be doing to protect ourselves and loved ones from the harmful effects of electricity.

    How Electrical Shocks Happen

    Electricity always seeks a path to the ground. Electrical injuries occur when a person accidentally becomes a part of the pathway that gets the electricity to its destination. When this happens, a person is acting as a conductor—a material that attracts electricity and will allow it to flow quickly. Other conductors include metal, water, wet objects, and trees (because of their moisture). Materials used for insulation such as rubber, glass, plastic, and porcelain do not allow electricity to flow freely.

    As the use of electrical power grows, electrical hazards do, too. Electricity is almost in constant use, what with laptops, toasters, lamps, etc. staying plugged in when not in use. This, along with aging wiring systems put electrocutions and home fires at a higher risk. Fire hazards are also greater when surge suppressors, power strips, and extension cords are misused.

    Protect your Children

    When you know how to prevent electrical shocks and burns, you can more easily protect yourself and your loved ones. Check out the following tips from the American Burn Association:

    • Avoid letting children play with or near electrical appliances. Keep them a safe distance away from space heaters, irons, hair dryers, etc.
    • Use plug covers on any power outlets accessible to small children. Outlet caps that attach to the outlet plate with screws are better protectors than those that simply plug in.
    • Make sure plug in caps are a similar color to the outlet so they aren’t easily recognized and pulled out.
    • Make sure such caps are not small enough to be a choking hazard.
    • Make sure any night lights used in a child’s room do not resemble toys.
    • Teach children to respect electricity as soon as they are old enough (usually around age 3). Two thirds of electrical burn injuries happen to children 12 and under.

    Children aren’t the only ones at risk, though. Many adults also suffer injuries from electrical shocks each year, whether at home or at work.

    Other General Safety Tips

    • Unplug appliances by pulling on the plug, not the cord.
    • Only use appliances with a three-prong plug in a three-slot outlet. Never force it or remove a prong to make it fit a two-slot outlet. You can find outlet adapters, however, that allow you to use three-prong plugs in two-prong outlets.
    • Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If a cord is frayed or cracked, replace it. Replace any tool that causes even the smallest of shocks, or overheats, shorts out, or gives off smoke.
    • Never use electrical appliances near water
    • Unplug appliances before performing any repairs
    • Attach extension cords to appliances/tools before plugging them into outlets
    • Keep clothes, curtains, and other possibly flammable items at least 3 feet away from all heaters, whether electric, gas, or kerosene-fueled
    • If an electric power line is down on or near your home, keep everyone out of the area and call 9-1-1 or your local electric company.

    As a society, we depend on electricity. It works 24/7 to provide us with heat, to keep our security systems working, to keep our unpreserved food cold, and more. While you enjoy the positive results of electricity, don’t abuse or misuse it. Remember, it can have painful—even deadly—effects if you’re not careful.

    What do you do in your home to keep your loved ones safe from electrical shocks and burns? Have you ever experienced a major electric shock?




    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Electrical Burns, National Burn Week, Fire Preparedness, Fire Safety, emergency preparedness, Survival, preparedness, safety

  • Keeping Warm—and Safe—with Portable Heaters

    Blizzards, ice storms, and high winds often cause power outages just when warmth and light are needed the most in our homes. If by chance you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace with a supply of dry firewood, you’re ahead of the game. However, if your home doesn’t have one, how do you keep warm when the utilities go out?

    Portable Heaters to the Rescue

    Most people turn to propane-powered space heaters. These can put out enough heat to warm an area large enough to fit your family during the power outage—even if that may result in a little more “togetherness” than your gang normally prefers! (Pretend you’re camping out.)

    When shopping for a space heater, look for safety features such as an automatic tip-over turn-off switch and a low-oxygen sensor. These features will shut off the heater if it tips over or shut off the propane if the oxygen level in the air dips too low. Remember that you need sufficient ventilation of fresh air in the room, even if it’s cold!

    Of course, you’ll need to keep a supply of propane bottles or tanks on hand to use with these heaters. Most of them will accommodate either 1-lb. or 20-lb. propane tanks and come with the appropriate adapters and connectors.

    Here at Emergency Essentials, we recommend the Mr. Heater brand. All three models include the above-mentioned safety features:

    1. Mr. Heater Big Buddy Combo (our price $160.95, which includes the heater, a fuel filter, and a five foot hose adapter. All you need is the propane, which you must buy in your area. This heater is certified by the CSA International (American Gas Association) for both indoor and outdoor use, and can heat up to 400 square feet for up to 220 hours on the low setting. It features an internal, battery-operated blower fan.
    2. Mr. Heater Portable Buddy (our price, $115.95) can heat up to 200 square feet and uses either the 1-lb. or 20-lb. propane tanks.
    3. Mr. Heater Little Buddy (our price, $63.95) can heat up to 100 square feet. Works with only a 1lb. propane tank.

    One customer told us that his family was without power for three weeks after Hurricane Sandy. When the nights turned frigid, their Mr. Buddy Heater was (literally!) a lifesaver.

    Portable Heater Safety

    Safety is always a concern with any portable heater. FEMA reports that an estimated 900 portable heater fires in residential buildings are reported each year, causing 70 deaths, 150 injuries, and $53 million in property loss. (Estimates from the Consumer Protection Agency are actually much higher.)

    January and February are the peak months for these fires, which are usually caused by the heater being placed too close to flammable items (bedding, drapes, clothing, tablecloths, rugs, sleeping bags, trash cans, stacks of papers or magazines, etc.).

    How can you keep from having a safety issue with your heater? FEMA has produced a 30-second video on heater safety; it’s definitely worth your time to watch it.

    Check out the safety features of a portable heater before you purchase it

     A Few Portable Heater Safety Tips:

    • Use the proper size heater for the area you need to heat. Expecting a small heater to warm a large area can result in the unit overheating. Using too large a heater in a small area can increase the amount of carbon monoxide in the air.
    • Keep the area sufficiently ventilated with fresh air.
    • Follow your heater’s instructions exactly.
    • Use appropriate connectors, hoses, etc. for your model.
    • Keep heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn.
    • Don’t leave your heater unattended.
    • Place heater on a hard, level, non-flammable surface (not on a rug or carpet).
    • Inspect your heater regularly for damage, and don’t use a defective unit.

    Have you ever had to rely on a propane-powered heater to heat your home, office, cabin, or another location? Have you ever experienced a time you wished you had one?


    Photo Courtesy of FEMA




    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: National Burn Week, Fire Preparedness, Fire Safety, emergency preparedness, Survival, preparedness, safety

  • Learn, Don't Burn: Fire Safety Tips for the Home

    Prevent house fires with these fire safety tips

    “The United States has the highest fatality rate from fire in the industrial world. Why? Because we spend most of our money responding to fires, not preventing them.” This statement by David Osborne, Sr. Advisor to Vice President Al Gore, shows us where our priorities should lie in keeping our homes and families safe from fire: prevention!

    Here’s a list of fire safety tips you can use to prevent a house fire.

    Fire Safety in the Kitchen

    • Never leave cooking food unattended, especially when frying (overheated oil is the leading cause of kitchen fires).
    • Keep it clean—keep stove and nearby counter surfaces free of clutter, grease, and combustible items such as cans of baking spray, bug spray, hairspray, or air freshener.
    • Use your stove or oven timer; we humans can get easily distracted.
    • Wear close-fitting clothing when cooking; loose robes and billowing sleeves can ignite easily over the stove.

    If a pan fire erupts while you’re cooking, act quickly to prevent the fire from spreading. Here’s what you should do:


    1. Cover the pan with a lid or another pan turned upside down.
    2. Turn off the heat.
    3. If the first two don’t extinguish the fire, douse it with a fire-extinguisher or throw baking soda on it.

    And a few things you should never do with a kitchen fire:

    • DO NOTsubstitute flour or sugar for baking soda to douse the fire—1 cup of either has the explosive power of 2 sticks of dynamite!
    • DO NOT spray an oil fire with water; it will splatter the hot oil and spread the fire.
    • DO NOT run with a pan of oil; there’s too much danger of dripping, spilling, and spreading the fire or burning yourself.


    Fire Safety in the Laundry Room

    • Your dryer duct must vent to the outdoors, never to a room in your home, as it can contain a combination of combustible gases.
    • Avoid plastic duct work for your dryer; metal is much safer.
    • Keep duct and dryer lint-trap free of lint. Periodically a professional should help you clean between the dryer drum and the heating element.
    • Install a smoke detector in the area.


    Fireplaces and Candles

    • Never leave a fire unattended, whether it’s in your fireplace or a small candle sitting on the table.
    • Make certain your fireplace flue is open before lighting a fire.
    • Place candles or candle-warmers on a flat, non-combustible surface away from cloth, paper, cardboard, or even Styrofoam.
    • Use a sturdy hearth screen to keep logs from rolling out of a fireplace.
    • Perform regular checkups on your chimney, fireplace, or woodstove. All need annual cleaning and monthly inspections in case of obstructions or damage.
    • Never burn paper, trash, or green wood in fireplaces.
    • Extinguish the fire before you leave the area. Let the ashes cool completely before disposing of them in a metal container outside the home.


    Electronics and Appliances

    • Be a smart shopper! Buy appliances that have been evaluated and approved by a nationally-recognized laboratory such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories).
    • Check labels of appliances for manufacturer’s safety tips.
    • Replace all frayed wires and damaged plugs.
    • Use 3-prong plugs in 3-prong outlets, and 2-prong plugs in 2-prong outlets.
    • Keep portable space heaters 4 feet away from combustible surfaces and objects.
    • Ensure that your space heater has an automatic turn-off feature in case it should tip over.
    • Do not allow your space heater to overheat, and use in a well-ventilated room.
    • If your heater operates on kerosene, use only clear K-1 Kerosene, which is the cleanest, purest form of the fuel. It should be clear as water and show no “floaties” or contaminants. Do not substitute gasoline for kerosene.


    Smoke Alarms

    • Have several in your house, near the kitchen, laundry room, bedrooms, and any room that has a fireplace or wood-burning stove.
    • Use dual-sensor smoke alarms, as they use both photoelectric and ionization sensors, increasing the chance of catching a fire in its beginning stage.
    • Test smoke alarms once a month and replace yearly (except for those containing non-replaceable 10-year lithium batteries).
    • Never disable a smoke alarm, especially when cooking.
    • There are special smoke alarms for the disabled—Loud, unmistakable alarms for visually-impaired people, visual alarms or vibrating pads for the hearing-impaired, and alarms with outdoor strobe lights to alert neighbors of a problem in the home of a person with severe disabilities. Many alarms can be connected to an alarm service that alerts first responders to a need.


    If You Smoke

    • Smoke outdoors for the most safety.
    • Never smoke in bed or in a recliner where you might be tempted to snooze.
    • Stay alert. If you feel especially sleepy, whether due to medication, drinking, or sleep-deprivation, put out your cigarette/cigar.
    • Snuff cigarettes out completely in sand or water; don’t toss burning butts out your car window, into a trash can, or anywhere else.
    • Never smoke in an area where oxygen is being used. Even if the canister is turned off, the area is still more vulnerable to explosion.


    Getting Out Safely

    • Establish an evacuation plan. Draw up an escape plan for your home, with all exits marked. Establish two ways of exiting each room if possible, especially bedrooms.
    • Discuss escape plans with your family, and rehearse. Teach the stop, drop, and roll technique in case clothing catches fire.

    These practices may not stop every single house fire, but they’ll help prevent those that can be prevented—that are caused by human error or negligence—and help your family survive if a fire should erupt in spite of all your precautions.

    Have you had an experience with a house fire? Do you have any tips to add to the list?

    For more details on these tips, see the original articles links below:

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: house fires, National Burn Week, fire, Fire Preparedness, Fire Safety, emergency preparedness, Survival, preparedness

  • How to Prevent a Car Fire

    How to Prevent a Car Fire

    While driving on the freeway a couple of months ago, traffic was at a standstill. Now, this was not your typical 5 p.m. commuter traffic...Drivers had slowed down to look at a car sitting on the side of the road with 5 foot flames raging from its open hood.

    A motor vehicle fire is one of the most dangerous types of fires you can encounter. However, FEMA believes that “the dangers of motor vehicle fires are often overlooked. Each year, these fires kill over 300 people and injure 1,250 more.”

    Motor vehicle fires can cause toxic gases like carbon monoxide and other hazardous substances to emit from the vehicle which, if inhaled, can cause serious health problems. Flying debris and explosions are also possible along with severe or fatal burn injuries. Flames from a car fire can even shoot out distances of ten feet or more.

    Motor Vehicle Fire Safety

    When I witnessed that car fire, I noticed a couple of things the driver did to keep himself safe. Many of the things he did matched up with the safety suggestions from FEMA and the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA).

    Here’s what he did—and what you can do, too, if you ever experience a car fire:

    • He pulled over into the breakdown section of the freeway (you can also pull into a rest stop).
    • He got out of the vehicle and was standing far away from it (the NFPA suggests to stand 100 ft. away from the vehicle).
    • He called 9-1-1 and told them the location of the fire.
    • He didn’t have any of his belongings with him. He didn’t try to go back to the car to retrieve any items left there.

    Some additional things you can do to stay safe:

    • DON’T open the hood or trunk of the car if you suspect the fire to be coming from there (our friend on the side of the road didn’t follow that guideline . . .). Opening them let’s air in and enlarges the flame. Doing this could injure you.
    • Once you pull over, turn off the engine.
    • If you have a fire extinguisher in your car, make sure it’s for use on class B (a fire fueled by flammable liquids) or class C (a fire caused by energized electrical objects or circuits) fires.
    • Make sure to use your fire extinguisher a safe distance away (5-10 feet) from the flames so you don’t get hurt.

    Preventing Motor Vehicle Fires

    In a study done by the NFPA, they found that “collisions and overturns were factors in only 4% of highway vehicle fires, [but] these incidents accounted for three of every five (60%) automobile fire deaths” from 2006-2010. The fire I witnessed started because of a collision, but motor vehicle fires can happen in other ways such as improper car maintenance. To avoid maintenance-related fires:

    1. Have your car serviced regularly. You should always do this, but especially if you notice leaks, or if there’s a change in the way it runs.

    2. Take notice of warning signs that your car needs maintenance to avoid fires include:

    • Cracked or loose wiring
    •  Electrical problems
    • Fuse blows (more than once)
    • Oil cap not on securely
    • Rapid changes in fuel level or fluid level, or engine temperature

    3. Never transport gasoline inside the car itself where passengers sit. If you transport gasoline in your car, make sure it is in a sealed canister and keep a window cracked for ventilation.


    Keep yourself safe on the road this year by following these tips. And while you’re at it, consider buying or making a Car emergency Kit in case of an issue that leaves you stranded on the road.

    What else would you suggest doing to protect yourself from a car fire? Let us know in the comments.






    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: burn week, fire, Fire Safety, emergency preparedness

  • Tips for Preventing Holiday Fires in Your Home

    Prevent holiday fires in your home

    Inevitably at this time of year, we see headlines about holiday fires as this season of celebration involves heavy traffic, excessive electricity use, and extreme weather. The latest disaster comes from my corner of the country, where a dog alerted a family to a Christmas tree fire that claimed $85,000 worth of damage to their home.

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology reports that Christmas tree fires are relatively rare (right around 210 per year), but that fatalities associated with those fires are disproportionately high. In other words, the chance of a tree fire in your home may be low, but if it happens, you have a greater chance of dying. Yikes. And if you really want to give yourself a scare, watch the video on their site showing a dry Christmas tree catching fire and consuming a whole room in less than a minute.


    Live trees aren’t the only culprits. Pre-lit artificial trees, candles, and home baking all increase the chance of a home fire during the holidays, so be particularly careful this year.

    Both FEMA and the National Fire Prevention Association provide helpful tip lists for avoiding holiday fires in your home. You can also check out our blog post to Make a Fire Escape Plan and download this pdf on home fire safety.


    The only thing we want burning this season is the Yule log!



    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: fire, Fire Safety, tips, preparedness, holidays

  • Baby Steps: Gathering Fire Making Supplies

    |5 COMMENT(S)

    Gathering fire making supplies

    We’ve been talking a lot about fire lately—how to Build a Fire without Matches, how to Prevent Kitchen Fires, etc. Most of us have matches and maybe a lighter on our list of emergency supplies, but how many of us would have to scramble for everything else (you know, wood?) if we needed to get a fire going?  Here are some things you may not have on that list to help you gather fire making supplies.

    Tinder –Lots of different things can be used for tinder, and some are easier (and cleaner) to store than others. My personal favorite is dryer lint—I keep a jar in my laundry room and fill it regularly, then transfer it to a plastic ziplock for emergency packs. Discounting what you could find in the wild, here are some other easy tinder materials you could collect and store for your fire making supplies: wood shavings or sawdust, cotton fabric or cotton balls, frayed natural (jute) twine, char cloth, paper (Kleenex, toilet paper, newspaper, paper towel), or steel wool.

    Fire starters – You can’t go wrong with a supply of waterproof matches, like UCO Stormproof. Watch the video below to see UCO Stormproof matches in action.


    Some survivalists recommend keeping matches in a few different places (emergency pack, car, coat pocket), just in case. A less disposable idea might be getting a more durable fire starter and storing it with your fire making supplies. They won’t last indefinitely, but they’re good for anywhere from a hundred to a couple thousand sparks, depending on the material, and they store a little more conveniently than matches.

    Another way to get your fire started is using a gel fuel like Utility Flame. Simply squeeze the gel onto your tinder then light using a match or lighter. The gel will heat up and begin to burn your tinder, starting your flame. The gel burns for fifteen minutes, giving you enough time to collect kindling and fuel to keep the fire going. Utility Flame comes in handy little packets that are perfect for backpacks and emergency kits. 

    Fuel – For those of us who grew up without gas fireplaces (what do you mean, ‘switch it on’?), woodpiles were a part of life. They’re a rarer feature these days, but could be a lifesaver in an emergency. Whether you buy it by the cord or cut down your own tree branches and logs, there are important considerations regarding storage. Primarily, you want to keep firewood covered, but not enclosed; good ventilation is key to “seasoning,” or properly drying the wood.

    Alternatively, if you need to get and keep a fire burning somewhere away from your immaculately stacked woodpile, a firestarter like Fired Up! can save time and space. For fuel in bulk, Fired Up! comes in 12 oz. cans , 2.5 lb. cans, or 13 lb. buckets, and can store for 30+ years.

    First aid – So, maybe you got that fire burning just a little too hot. Don’t forget burn treatment along with all your other fire making supplies. BurnFree’s comprehensive line of burn treatment products includes everything from a fire blanket to treat full-body burns, to single dose packets of pain relief gel. Burnfree is specifically developed for first aid use on burns and scalds. By storing Burnfree in your camping or emergency supplies, you can begin to care for burns properly before it creates any devastating effects to your body. Burnfree allows you to treat burns in a variety of situations and of various degrees.

    Any other fire-related storage must-haves? What’s in your supply?


    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Fire Preparedness, Fire Safety, Survival, baby steps, skills

  • Prevent Kitchen Fires

    |1 COMMENT(S)

     stove fire

    Quick quiz: Which activity is statistically more likely to result in a house fire?

    a) Running your fireplace

    b) Using your hair dryer

    c) Frying eggs.

    If you answered ‘c,’ you’re already keyed in to the message of the National Fire Prevention Association. The theme of this year’s National Fire Prevention Week is Prevent Kitchen Fires, a reference to the number one source of house fires in the United States.

    In the interest of keeping your cooking space—and the rest of your house!—safe and fire-free, here are our top tips for preventing  and safely extinguishing kitchen fires.


    • The most important thing any of us can do to prevent kitchen fires is to stay in the kitchen while we cook. Frying, broiling, or grilling requires constant attention. If you need to step out, turn off the oven or stove.
    • If you’re doing something that takes longer (simmering, baking, boiling, roasting), check it frequently. Never leave the house while using the stove or oven, and set a timer to prevent burning.
    • It may sound intuitive to keep flammables away from the stovetop, but think of all the things in your kitchen made of wood, paper, or fabric! Wooden spoons, oven mitts, dish towels, that empty box from your macaroni and cheese . . . You get the idea.
    • Believe it or not, food build-up on your stovetop is also a potential fire source. Keep stoves and ranges clean and wipe up spills when the area is cool.
    • Maintain a 3-foot radius around the stove and oven that stays clear of children and pets (for their own safety), and use back burners when they are present.
    • Be sure your cooking equipment is in good repair and use it properly. Keep electrical cords away from heat sources and never use an extension cord in the kitchen. (Overloaded circuits are a major source of home fires.)
    • No cooking in that floppy-sleeved bathrobe. Loose clothing and hair can ignite in a hurry.
    • Be extra careful when frying in oil. Don’t overfill pans and remember that wet food placed in oil will cause bigger grease splatters.

    Extinguishing fires

    • Many of us have been told what to use on different kinds of fires over the years (baking soda on a grease fire, etc.). The current advice of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is just get out. Leave the house, make sure everyone else is out, and call 9-1-1.
    • REALLY IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are going to attempt to fight the fire, have everyone else get out of the house and make sure you have a clear path of escape.
    • Have a multi-purpose fire extinguisher on hand and learn how to use it. The NFPA offers some great tips on how to use a fire extinguisher correctly. REMEMBER that fire extinguishers should only be used for small fires. If the fire is too big to handle, just get out!
    • Small grease fires can best be smothered by sliding a lid over the burning pan. Always remember to turn off the stovetop, and wait till the fire is out and the pan is completely cool before touching it.
    • To extinguish an oven or microwave fire, close the door and turn it off. If you can safely reach the microwave plug, pull it out.
    • Have cooking equipment repaired or checked after a fire.


    Bonus category: Cooking Outdoors

    In your kitchen-away-from-home, all the safety practices above apply:

    • Keep equipment clean.
    • Keep children, pets, and flammable materials several feet away.
    • Never leave grills or other cooking equipment  unattended.

    Additionally, consider these grill-specific tips:

    • Be sure your gas grill is open when you light it.
    • Never add liquid fuel to a fire.
    • Let coals cool completely before disposing of them.
    • Never use a tabletop grill or camp stove inside a tent.
    • Store fuel carefully and keep it away from heat.

    Check out more safety info at the following sites, and get cookin’ with fire safety!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Fire Preparedness, Fire Safety

  • It's National Fire Prevention Week!

    Firefighter fighting house fire

    Earlier this year, my very favorite waterfront restaurant here in the Northwest—the home of the most wonderful onion rings in all history—burned to the ground. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the resulting loss of materials, business, and jobs had our whole community on edge for several weeks.

    In 2011, fires caused 3,005 civilian deaths, 17,500 civilian injuries, and $9.7 billion in property damage (see the report http://www.nfpa.org/research/fire-statistics/the-us-fire-problem). That’s the kind of statistic the National Fire Protection Administration wants you to hear about this week. Every year since 1922, the week including October 9th has been designated National Fire Prevention Week. The goal of this special week in October is to educate the public on fire safety and prevention practices.

    History of National Fire Prevention Week

    Do you remember learning this poem in elementary school?

                 Late one night, when we were all in bed,

                Old Mother Leary left the lantern in the shed

                And when the cow kicked it over, she winked her eye and said,

                “I’ll bet they’ll be commemorating this with a national week of observance for years!”

    You didn’t learn that version? Hmmm. The poem refers to the Great Chicago Fire of October 8-9th, 1871, which National Fire Prevention Week commemorates. The Chicago fire killed more than 250 people and 17,400 structures across its 2,000 acre swath. While it was far from the most destructive conflagration that year (believe it or not), it occupies the most vivid place in cultural memory, which is why its anniversary has become such a rally point.

    Purpose of National Fire Prevention Week

    When the Fire Marshal’s Association of North America persuaded the president of the United States to designate a formal observance, 40 years after the Chicago fire, it was determined that the week should not be one of celebration, but one of education and progress. National Fire Prevention week always has a stated theme, and in current years, the focus has been in specific prevention practices—like 2010’s concentration on smoke alarms, or last year’s theme, “Have 2 Ways Out.”

    This year’s theme, “Prevent Kitchen Fires,” addresses the number one cause of home fires and civilian fire deaths in the U.S. Look for another post on kitchen fire safety coming up later this week.

    Fire Prevention Resources

    NFPA’s website is a treasure trove of fire safety resources and information, and during this week, they are gearing everything toward public education. I especially appreciate how they’ve categorized their information for target groups: those in the fire service, kids and families, and educators. Considering you probably fall into one of the last two groups, here’s a quick overview of what you might find:

    For kids and families

    • A dedicated site for kids, featuring the NFPA’s mascot, Sparky the Dog
    • Kid-friendly activities and print-outs
    • Age-appropriate safety strategies
    • Home safety checklist
    • Templates for an escape plan, safety information card, etc.

    For teachers

    • Info sheets and checklists to send home
    • Ready-made fire prevention lesson plans
    • Fire safety-themed classroom activities
    • Apps and e-books to teach fire safety

    The site’s safety tips and extensive fire prevention information are a crucial resource for everyone, whether or not you live or work with children. So, to kick off National Fire Prevention Week, instead of lighting up the grill (yikes!), take the NFPA’s fire safety quiz. I got 7 out of 10. Can you beat my score?


    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Fire Safety, emergency preparedness

  • Fire Season Safety and Preparedness Tips

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    Tips for Wildfire and House Fire Preparedness - Emergency Essentials

    Wildfire season has already started, and high-profile fires have already started in California and Colorado in the last several weeks.

    This news article gives great tips and suggestions for preventing wildfires and house fires—practical tips, and some I hadn't thought of before, including where you park your car when you’re out and about. Click here to read all 8 tips in the original article. Here’s my favorite:

    Target shooting
    Did you know that by July of 2012, 20 fires had been started last year by target shooters, including the Dump Fire, which burned 5,507 acres and cost $2.1 million to fight? The heat of bullets mixed with the hot, dry earth can be a very dangerous mix. Consider either visiting indoor shooting ranges or taking a couple months off from target shooting during the summer.

    Another tip includes having an evacuation plan. Your plan should include an emergency kit, bug out bag, or go bag, as well as a meeting place away from the house where everyone can meet in case of an emergency evacuation.

    Maryn McKenna shared her first-hand experience with an unexpected fire via Wired Magazine in her article, The Risks You Don’t Think of: A Plea to Pack a ‘Go Bag.’ She and her husband packed for a possible evacuation from their home because of a tree that had fallen on an electrical transformer next to their house. They packed their bags, and ultimately didn’t need them. Here’s what she said about her packing:

    To be honest, I give myself a C. I grabbed the cat’s food and dishes, but didn’t think to take the medication I give her twice a day. I took all the devices that access my stuff in the cloud, but didn’t recall that I keep some things out of the cloud for security; I should have taken the external back-up that sits on my desk. And, if things went very bad, I might have had a hard time dealing with the details; I relied on having web-based banking, but I didn’t think to take the phone or account numbers for any of the utilities. And I committed those fails despite minimal things to distract me: my spouse (aviation engineer) and I (epidemics and disasters journalist, pilot) are pretty accustomed to emergencies; we had only one pet to wrangle; and we didn’t have any small children or mobility-challenged elders to keep calm. And, most fortunate of all, we ended up not having to run.

    In the case of a large-scale evacuation, you will most likely have a few minutes to pack (versus a home fire where you need to evacuate immediately), but only a few. Keep emergency kits, important documentation, and precious keepsakes or photos where they can be packed quickly; that will help ease the stress of an evacuation and leave you with the assurance that you got everything vital out of the house.

    Think you’ll be able to “wing it” when an evacuation order comes knocking at your door? Evacuation: The 10 Minute Challenge, a video created by the Insurance Information Institute, shows the difference planning ahead will make—because those ten minutes will go by a lot more quickly than you’d expect:

    Get ready now for the possibility of a house fire or short-notice evacuation. Check out our pre-assembled emergency kits, get an escape ladder for each second-story bedroom, and learn more of the basics for Before, During, and After a fire in our Insight Article about Emergency Fire Safety.

    Be careful this summer, and stay safe!

    --Urban Girl


    P.S. I have my own tip for you. A couple of years ago we had a kitchen fire at my house (and no, I’m not the one who started it). We started chatting with the firemen who came, and they said that many house fires are started by toasters that short out in the middle of the night. So keep those electronics unplugged when you’re not using them.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Prepare, Fire Preparedness, Fire Safety, Current Events, natural disaster, evacuation plan, evacuation, video