College Campus Fire Safety Fire Tips

College Campus Fire Safety Fire TipsSeptember’s college Campus Fire Safety Month is winding down and the headlines are fading from view, but that doesn’t mean you should put campus fire safety out of your mind until next September.

Since 2000, 168 people have died in fires on college campuses, in Greek housing, or in off-campus housing within three miles of the campus. The good news – if there is such a thing as good news – is that 2013-2014 academic years was the lowest year on record for fatal campus-related fires.

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7 Outdoor Fire Safety Tips

7 Outdoor Fire Safety TipsSummer is in full swing and that means backyard barbecues with family and friends and roasting marshmallows over open fire grills. It also means the potential for devastating grilling-related fires.

For example, on August 17, 2013, at 5:53 p.m., the Newton, Mass. Fire Department responded to a gas grill fire. The grill, which had been left unattended, ignited the exterior of the home. Damages from this fire were estimated to be $75,000, according to Massachusetts Fire Marshall Stephen Coan.

In 2013, 85 fires involving open fire grills were reported to the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System. Two people were injured in the fires, which caused about $300,000 worth of damages. Seventy-five percent of all grill fires occurred between May and September, according to the fire marshal.

A home fire alarm system is the best defense in the event of a fire, but here are seven other tips from the Fire Marshall to help you keep your family and your home safe while you’re grilling up those hot dogs and burgers.

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Fire Safety in Off-Campus Housing

off-campus-fire-safetyWe’re only a couple months into the academic year, but tragically one college student has already perished in an off-campus fire.

Scott Notary, a 22 year old Purdue University student from Lafayette, Indiana, was killed in his apartment in a 2 ½ story residential building in the early morning hours of November 17, according to Campus Firewatch. Notary was found in a bedroom on the second floor.

This is the first fatal fire of the 2013-2014 academic year. Since 2000, Campus Firewatch said there have been 163 campus-related fire fatalities – 87% of them occurred off-campus, where approximately 2/3 of the students across the nation live.

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Preserving Home Security – and Sanity – During Renovations

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.” – Leo Tolstoy, “Anna Karenina”

Since spring is just around the corner, many people are planning to build new homes or renovate their current homes – projects that involve a lot of time, not to mention money, and maybe even a few tears.

homerenovationHowever, “a home under construction or renovation is more vulnerable to damage or destruction than at any other time in a home’s history,” according to the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies. “Improperly stored work rags may combust, newly installed plumbing can leak, and intruders might vandalize your vacant home” and that’s just for starters. Read more

New England Winter Heating Dangers

Now that we’re right in the middle of the winter heating season, you have to be sure you’re heating your home or business with safety in mind.

Each year the Massachusetts Office of Public Safety has a Keep Warm, Keep Safe This Winter campaign to remind people about the dangers of winter heating.

fireIt’s no wonder the office considers this campaign a yearly necessity since heating has been the source of over 14,000 fires the last five years and it’s the number two reason for Massachusetts home fires, according to Read more

Home Fire Safety: Some Smoke Alarms Go Off Too Late

Did you know there has been a dramatic reduction in fire fatalities and injuries over the last 30 years because more people use smoke alarms? These facts are according to the Underwriters Laboratories study, “Smoke Alarms and the Modern Residence Fire.”

In 1977 home fires caused 5,865 deaths and over 31,000 injuries. This was at a time when only 22% of homes had smoke alarms installed, according to information in the UL report.

In 2009, when over 95% of homes had smoke alarms, the annual death rate attributed to home fires dropped to 2,565, a 56% decline, and injuries dropped by more than 59%. The reduction in deaths during this time has not been entirely attributed to the increased use of smoke alarms, though it is considered a leading factor.

Research now shows that today people have less time to escape a home that’s on fire than they did 30 years ago. That’s because manufacturers of home furnishings have shifted from using natural materials like wood, cotton and wool to synthetic materials like polyurethane foam for padding and synthetic fabric covers that typically ignite more quickly.

These synthetic materials also burn more intensely, release their fire-enabled energy faster, and create more smoke than natural materials. We’ve seen how effective smoke alarms can be in warning occupants of fires but now they have to work even harder to get the job done.

Currently, there are two types of smoke detection technologies available for residential smoke alarms: ionization smoke detection, which is generally more responsive to fires with fast-moving flames, and photoelectric smoke detection, which is usually more responsive to smoldering fires.

The most common type of smoke detectors, the ones based on ionization technology, may not protect your family in a fire, according to a video segment  on the TODAY show by National Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen. While they work well to detect fires with fast-moving flames, experts say some of the most deadly fires are the smoldering, smoky kind that can fill your home with toxic gases while you sleep.

In those fires, ionization alarms don’t work well, going off way too late – or not going off at all, Rossen notes. “And that means the individuals could have a fire in their home and never receive a warning,” Don Russell, an engineering professor at Texas A&M who’s run hundreds of tests, tells Rossen. Photoelectric is the way to go in those situations.

For the best protection, the National Fire Protection Association recommends you use both ionization and photoelectric alarms, or an alarm that includes both technologies in a single device, called a dual alarm. New smoke detection technologies are also being developed so manufacturers can produce smoke alarms that react more effectively to fires in today’s homes.

Additionally a home fire alarm system with central station monitoring offers another layer of protection.

The NFPA standard requires that alarm monitoring companies verify within 90 seconds if actual incidents are occurring before they can alert 9-1-1. American Alarm’s average response time is 21 seconds, saving valuable time that can mean protecting your home and family.

From September 1 to September 30, 2012, Underwriters Laboratories sampled approximately 1,000 fire alarm system monitoring accounts. In that month, they received over 68,000 signals, including fire alarm, supervisory, trouble, and test signals.

Of the signals handled by central station operators, only 3.4% required action, and only 0.15% resulted in fire dispatch.

Whether you’re asleep, away from home, or in your home, our 24-Hour Security Command Center is always available, monitoring smoke detectors to respond and send help when it’s needed most.

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Holiday Home Security and Safety Series: Holiday and Christmas Tree Fire Safety

The weekend after Thanksgiving marks the traditional start of the holiday season. It’s the time when people across the country begin decorating their homes for the holidays. That includes putting up Christmas trees and decking homes with festive holiday lights.

While Christmas trees and holiday lights are lovely to behold, they can also be dangerous. Read more

Holiday Home Security and Safety Series: Turkey Fryer Safety

It’s that time of year again. The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. As we’ve seen in the past few years, turkey fryers have gained in popularity as the way to cook a moist, delicious bird.

While there are a many turkey fryers on the market, most of them use gallons of oil. With the use of oil – particularly large amounts – combined with fire or heat, comes the chance you could start a fire or suffer serious burns.

In fact, turkey fryers are considered dangerous enough that Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the renowned independent, not-for-profit product safety testing and certification organization, refuses to certify any turkey fryers with its UL mark.

Even as manufacturers have designed turkey fryers with safety features including sturdier stands and non-heat conducting handles, UL maintains its position that fryers are a fire risk. “We’re worried by the increasing reports of fires related to turkey fryer use. Based on our test findings, the fryers used to produce those great-tasting birds are not worth the risks,” explains John Dregenberg, UL consumer affairs manager.

But regardless, every year 47 million turkeys are prepared for Thanksgiving day, and because of the attraction to the taste, and even the novelty, people will continue to use fryers.

Watch this demonstration from the Underwriters Laboratories to understand the risks associated with turkey fryers:

According to UL, some of the hazards include:

  • Units can easily tip offer, spilling hot oil.
  • If fryers are overfilled with oil, the oil may splash out when the turkey is placed in the pot. The oil can then hit the burner or flames and cause a fire.
  • Placing a partially frozen turkey in the fryer can cause the oil to spill over the pot.
  • Most turkey fryers do not have thermostat controls. Because the heat is unregulated it can overheat and combust.
  • Lids and handles on turkey fryers become dangerously hot and may result in burns.

But if you still intend to use a fryer, regardless of the risks, UL offers some tips:

  • Always place a turkey fryer on a flat surface, outdoors, and away from buildings. Never use them in a garage, on a deck or in any other covered area.
  • Do not overfill the fryer, and make sure turkeys are completely thawed. The National Turkey Federation (NTF) recommendations say to thaw turkeys in the refrigerator for 24 hours for every five pounds.
  • Never leave a turkey fryer unattended.
  • When handling lids or touching the side of the pot, use insulated oven mitts. Safety googles are also recommended in case oil splatters.
  • Do not allow children or pets to come near the fryer, even hours after it has been in use as the oil remains hot for a long time.
  • Have an all-purpose fire extinguisher handy. If a fire does occur, don’t hesitate calling the fire department.
  • As an alternative, use one of the newer turkey cooking appliances that does not require oil.

Cook safely this Thanksgiving!

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Fire Prevention Week: Have Two Ways Out

Did you know that only one-third of Americans have both created and tested a fire escape plan? About three-quarters of Americans take the time to develop escape plans, but less than half of those people actually test them, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

One-third of American households who develop an escape plan estimate they would have at least six minutes before a fire in their homes would become life-threatening. However, they really have much less time to get out, according to a NFPA survey.

Because of the importance placed on escape planning, the theme of the NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week this year is “Have Two Ways Out.” It’s not only important to have a fire escape plan to prepare your family when a fire does occur, but your family must also know what to do if that escape route is blocked by smoke or fire. Read more

Fire Prevention Week Facts

In 2010, one home fire was reported every 85 seconds. Those fires in 2010 caused about 13,350 injuries among civilians, 2,640 deaths and resulted in $6.9 billion in damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Since 1990 cooking has topped the list as the number one reason for fires, while heating equipment was the main reason for fires in the 1980s and still  as the second cause of fires. Smoking materials, electrical equipment and candles are also high on the list of the reasons fires start.

Organizations like the National Fire Protection Association and fire houses across the country recognize Fire Prevention Week to remind people of these statistics and as well as to talk to them about fire safety. Read more