Prevention 1st Announces “Films on Fire!”


Short Film Competition for Middle and High School Students Highlighting Fire Safety

 Rochester-area non-profit Prevention 1st is kicking off Fire Prevention Month on Monday by opening “Films on Fire!,” a short film competition encouraging local middle and high school students to create entertaining and educational videos to teach young people about fire safety.  The contest, which has a poster component for elementary school students, will be judged by local filmmakers and community leaders in February, with cash prizes going to the winners in each category.

 “With the recent news that New York State is second in the nation for the most deadly house fires, it’s more important than ever to make sure every member of the family knows how to prevent fires, but also what to do in the event they break out,” said retired RFD Lieutenant and Prevention 1st Vice President Robert Crandall.

 Interested young people and those who work with them are encouraged to visit to find out the details and requirements for the contest.   Included are content suggestions, so that students focus on the key messages that are most important for people to remember around fire safety.

 “We are excited to see the creativity that students bring to their videos,” Crandall said.  “Whether it’s practicing an exit plan, testing smoke alarms, or cooking more safely, we know that young people are more likely to learn from their peers.  This should be an innovative and entertaining way to teach some skills that youngsters often take for granted.”

 Of particular interest to young people may be the cash prize of $100 each for the winner of the middle school and high school “social media” category for students whose videos get the most “likes” on Facebook, YouTube or other sites.  The winning videos judged by the contest panel will each win $250.

 See attached flyer for both the video contest and poster contest.  Please share!

 Lt. Crandall (cell 748-6331) and Prevention 1st President Molly Clifford (cell 233-3699) will be available for comment any time during the week of October 1.

Films on Fire Poster

2018 Prevention 1st Poster Contest

FILMS ON FIRE! Prevention 1st Short Film Competition

FILMS ON FIRE! Prevention 1st Short Film Competition

Prevention 1st, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, invites young filmmakers to submit a short film on the topic of INJURY PREVENTION, FIRE PREVENTION, or FIRE SAFETY to the Prevention 1st Short Film Competition. No entry fee. No purchase necessary to enter or win.



Films on Fire proudly accepts entries via, the world’s best online submission platform. FilmFreeway offers free HD online screeners, unlimited video storage, digital press kits, and more. Click to submit with FilmFreeway.

The competition is open to residents of the greater Rochester, New York area, defined as Rochester, Monroe County, and the surrounding Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, and Wayne counties.

This competition is open to individuals, classes, or groups. In the case of a class or a group, a team leader or teacher should be named as representative for submission purposes.

Staff members of Prevention 1st and their family members, as well as members of the Jury and their family members, may submit Entries, but such Entries are not eligible to be a Winner.

Middle School (grades 6 through 8)
High School (grades 9 through 12)

As this is a competition for young filmmakers, all entrants under age 18 must have a parent or guardian sign off on entries. In the case of school classes or other groups, the adult in charge is responsible for securing the permission of participants’ parent or guardian.

Each video submitted to the competition must be under three minutes in length, and must comply with the rules. Entries should be “G-Rated,” containing no inappropriate language or violence.

Video Submissions must be submitted via FilmFreeway with a Vimeo or Youtube link.

Video Submissions of all genres and styles will be accepted. The videos may be recorded in any language, but English subtitles are highly encouraged for those not produced in English. All video submissions must tell a story to help raise awareness about injury prevention, fire prevention, or fire safety, as further described by the judging criteria.

Entries must be original works. If the submission contains media (including music) created by someone else, permission must be obtained and provided upon request. Prevention 1st encourages the use of royalty-free or Creative Commons music.

Whenever making a film that will be shown online, it’s important to get permission from anyone who appears in the final piece. That applies to music used within the film as well. To that end, Prevention 1st offers simple MUSIC RELEASE and TALENT RELEASE forms. If your film is to be considered as a finalist, you must be prepared to provide Prevention 1st with those completed forms.

Entries must be submitted via the Prevention 1st website between 6:00 p.m. EST on October 1, 2018 and 11:59 p.m. EST January 25, 2019. The first 200 entries received will be considered for competition. See our website for official rules, release forms, guidelines, and submission link. Submissions will be accepted through Film Freeway at

Prevention 1st shall organize a Competition Committee. The Competition Committee will verify that the Entrant and the Entry meets the eligibility criteria. The Competition Committee may disqualify any Entry that it deems inappropriate.

Prevention 1st will organize a committee of individuals (the “Jury”), to decide winners based on the competition criteria. Criteria can include, but are not limited to, writing, acting, educational value, editing, production value, and artistic expression. All decisions of the competition committee and jury are final.

The Competition Committee will announce its list of eligible films via email and social media. Filmmakers competing for the social media prize should share their video on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtags #Prevention1st and #FilmsOnFire. Number of shares will be counted on February 25, 2019.

Middle School Category:
Jury winner: $250
Social media winner: $100

High School Category:
Jury winner: $250
Social media winner: $100

Winners will be announced March 1, 2019 via email and social media. Every reasonable attempt will be made to deliver prizes before April 1, 2019.

Each entrant (with parent/guardian) grants to Prevention 1st a non-exclusive license to use the film for the festival and other promotional or educational purposes for all media, worldwide in perpetuity. Filmmakers retain the copyright to their works.

The entrants shall hold Prevention 1st harmless, and discharges those involved with the competition from any and all claims, losses, or damages.

See our MESSAGING SHEET for ideas! It contains possible phrases and topics to make your movie about. Since we emphasize fire safety, the use of actual fire is prohibited in any video entry. Visit

See our FILMMAKING INFO SHEET for tips on as storyboarding, script-writing, good shooting practices, recording audio, editing, and finalizing your video. Visit

Publicity updates and winner announcements will be posted at as well as our Facebook page at

17 Quick, Easy, Inexpensive Ways to Stay Safe at Home

“Safe at home.” It’s how we feel when we close the door behind us at the end of a long day. But how often do we take a moment to make sure we truly are as safe as we feel in our own homes? Preventable injuries — including home fires and burns, household poisons, drowning and falls — are the leading cause of death for children, teens and young adults (you’ll be glad to know “young” means up to age 44). They’re one of the leading causes of death for older adults too. Let’s say you’re not afraid of dying. Why take the time to be safer?

  • You have better places to spend time than the emergency department. Injuries account for more than a third of all emergency department visits. The average wait time in EDs across the country is four hours and seven minutes, according to the engrossing reading of a recent Emergency Department Pulse Report. What would you rather do with those four hours?
  • Safer is cheaper. Injuries cost the nation $80 billion every year in medical costs alone. The estimated lifetime cost of injuries occurring in a single year in the U.S is more than $406 billion. No matter how good your health insurance is, an injury can take hundreds or thousands of dollars straight out of your pocket.
  • You want to get on with your life. A broken hip from a fall that could have been prevented may keep you from enjoying your normal activities for months. And do you really want to spend Rochester’s brief summer in the rehab center?

You say you just don’t have time to prevent injuries?  If you’ve got less than one minute to devote to safety, use it to:

  1. Wipe up a spill right away. Falls are the leading causeof nonfatal unintentional injuries for every age group, except 10 to 24 year olds—and for them it’s the second leading cause! Wiping up spills is one of several simple ways to prevent falls.
  2. Not leave a child alone near water (yes, even for less than a minute). Kids don’t drown only in pools. Bathtubs, buckets, toilets, and hot tubs can be drowning dangers as well.
  3. Test your smoke alarm to make sure it’s still working, and everyone in your household can hear it. Even alarms that are hard-wired or have long-life batteries need to be checked. You should have at least one working smoke alarm on each floor, and one inside every sleeping area is best. Consider having both ionization and photoelectric alarms, or dual alarms that incorporate both technologies. Ionization smoke alarms respond best to flaming fires, and photoelectric to smoldering fires.
  4. Put away matches or lighters in a high cabinet or locked drawer, out of sight and reach of children. Children playing with fire is a leading cause of fire deaths for children under age 5.
  5. Turn off portable space heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep. Space heaters are involved in 32% of heating fires but cause 82% of associated deaths and 64% of injuries.
  6. Adjust the thermostat on your water heater to keep hot water less than 120°F, to prevent scalds.
  7. Turn off the stove if you have to leave the kitchen while cooking. Unattended equipment is the #1 contributing factor in cooking fire deaths.
  8. Put on your glasses and read the fine print on that medicine bottleUnintentional poisonings have risen steadily since 1992, and for people 35 to 54 years old, they’re causing more deaths than motor vehicle crashes. Know how much, and how often, you can safely take any medication whether prescription or over-the-counter, as well as possible interactions with other drugs.
  9. Keep the metal mesh screen of your fireplace closed, but leave glass doors open while burning a fire. The U.S. Fire Administration says leaving the doors open gives the fire enough air and keeps creosote from building up in the chimney. The screen helps keep embers from getting out of the fireplace. Close the glass doors when the fire is out to keep air from the chimney from getting into the room.

If you can find just a few minutes use them to:

  1. Put away household cleaners and medications in a place that’s out of sight and reach of children.
  2. Clear clutter from hallways and exits to prevent tripping.
  3. Install handrails on stairs and adequate lighting at the top and bottom of the stairs. Leading causes of adult injuries include falls from stairs, steps and ladders.
  4. Use this fire safety checklist to check your home for hazards.
  5. Call to schedule an annual chimney cleaning.
  6. Play Help Mikey Make It Out with your kids. This fun, interactive game at teaches life-saving home escape lessons.
  7. Plan and practice your home escape. Working smoke alarms and CO detectors save lives, but does everyone in your home know what to do when they sound–especially in the middle of the night? Does everyone know your meeting place outside, where you can find each other and firefighters can find you? Visit
  8. Check the manufacturers instructions to see if you should replace your CO detector. New York State law requires CO detectors to be installed in all new and existing homes having any fuel-burning appliance or attached garage. But you need a  new detector every two to 10 years, depending on the model. Carbon monoxide kills in minutes, and unlike smoke from a fire it’s colorless, tasteless and odorless. It can be created by open flames, space heaters, water heaters, blocked chimneys or running a car inside a garage (even with the door open). If you have only one carbon monoxide detector, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends it be located near the sleeping area, where it can wake you.

Safer Home Heating: Wood Stoves and Pellet Stoves

Logs on the fire

Wood stoves and pellet stoves (which burn compressed sawdust) are becoming a popular alternate heating source. They’re believed to cut energy costs and be environmentally friendly. Like all heating equipment, though, they must be used with care. Heating equipment is involved in more than 64,000 home structure fires every year, which cause 540 civilian deaths. If you are heating with a wood or pellet stove:

  • Be sure it’s properly installed, complying with manufacturer recommendations and local codes for installation and use. Make sure your stove has at least 36 inches clearance from anything that can burn, and proper floor support.
  • Wood stoves should be burned hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
  • Burn only the materials for which your stove is designed. Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.

Remember, wood stoves and pellet stoves are designed for heating. Cooking stoves should never be used for heating.

Learn more about wood and pellet heating, including safe installation and maintenance, from the Department of Energy.

Read about Safer Home Heating: Space Heaters


Workplace Fire Drills – That Work

fire-exit-escape-signHow to Plan and Hold Workplace Fire Drills Your Employees Will Want to Do — and That Could Save Lives

Fire drills. You know you should have them, you’ve been meaning to plan them, maybe next week.  Or, maybe, your only fire “drill” was an unannounced exit when the alarm sounded. How did that go? How quickly did everyone exit? Did everyone exit?

Exit planning and drills can save lives at work as well as at home. A practiced exit plan can also have other benefits beyond fire. During a power outage at QCI Direct, the company started by Prevention 1st founding board member Jane Glazer, the windowless 250,000-square-foot warehouse had a total blackout except for emergency exit lights. Because of the company’s fire drill practice, more than 100 people were able to proceed immediately to the exits and evacuate the warehouse without panic or injury.

How did they do it? Both planning and practice went into those good results.  The company put together a safety committee and chose people from different departments to work together, giving them authority and responsibility for planning fire exits and holding drills. They held several scheduled practice drills so that all workers knew their ‘buddy’ and where to go, and an alternate route if that exit was blocked. Team leaders were responsible for counting heads when everyone was clear of the building. Gathering spots outside were a safe distance from the building.

They timed the drills, in which anyone who took longer than the required time was considered a “casualty,” and posted the casualties on a big board with the date of the drill. The supervisor in charge of the team leaders carried a stop watch. She checked all the outside gathering spots and reviewed with the team leaders who arrived late. She knew how many did not hustle in time.

How did they do on their first fire drill?  At least 10% “casualties”! But they improved with practice.  Exit times got down to less than 5 minutes for all departments.

Motivating workers to respond quickly is one of the biggest challenges for any workplace fire drill. At QCI,  warehouse workers made up 75% of the work force so this was a major group to motivate. The warehouse team leader came up with a great incentive: Following a successful (no casualties) fire drill, workers got to listen to their choice of music in the warehouse. Each drill took only about 15 minutes from start to finish, and was done about every 2 weeks for 10 weeks. The staff loved the breaks from work and the challenge of getting out on time and finding alternate routes.

While practice can make perfect, it can also make fire drills seem ‘routine.’ Keeping the drills meaningful was the next challenge. Once no one was a casualty, QCI started doing unscheduled drills. In addition, people were designated to stand at certain exits with big signs: “Exit blocked- find another exit.” This forced workers to think about what they were doing and why they were marching out of the building. That training came into use during the power outage when some areas were too dark and the workers had to use their alternate exits. Everyone still got out within their required time, using the light from the exit signs—and cell phones. Every employee knew what to do and where to go, and no one panicked.

There was also a great sense of pride among the workers that they had accomplished this so well. It showed that not only does practice make for a safe and speedy exit in a real situation, but also that escape practice has many applications beyond fire.

Related articleBeyond Compliance: Fire Drills and Fire Safety Education for people with developmental disabilities and the people who care for them.

Fire drills are just as important at home as in the workplace. For help in planning and practicing, go to

Share your fire drill story! What worked? What did you learn? Let us know at info AT prevention1st DOT org .

Ignorance Is Risky: Why We Still Need to Promote Fire Safety

Twice each year, Prevention 1st renews its educational campaign: “Change Your Clock; Test Your Alarms; Practice Your Home Fire Drill; Alarm Goes Off You Get Out,”

It’s important to keep getting out these basic fire safety messages. Because, people still just don’t get it. And ignorance can be deadly.

Several surveys over recent years continue to find that 80%-90% of Americans feel safer from fires at home than in a public building, or feel equally safe in both locations.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t be more wrong. Nearly four times as many fires occur in residences as in non-residences, and they are far more deadly. 85% of all US fire deaths happen in homes.

Yet people seem far more concerned about dangers they are less likely to face. Less than half of those surveyed correctly identified fire as the event most likely to cause harm to them or their family. The risk of dying in a fire is actually:

  • 149 times more likely than dying in a flood;
  • 126 times more likely than dying in an earthquake;
  • 39 times more likely than dying in a hurricane or tornado.

Perhaps the false sense of being safe from fire at home explains why only 18% of survey respondents said they worry about the dangers of fire more than once a year. If we can get people to think about fire safety at least twice a year, it will be a huge leap forward!

Of course, we don’t just want them to worry. We want them to take action. We need to first raise their awareness of vulnerability, then let them know there are simple actions they can take to reduce their risk.

At, you can print off copies of our Home Fire Drill reminder sign: “Change Your Clock, Check Your Alarms, Practice Your Home Fire Drill, Alarm Goes Off You Get Out.” You can get and share step-by-step instructions for planning and practicing a home fire drill, and for choosing, installing and testing smoke alarms. You can view (and share the links to) the video Home Fire Drill: Does Your Family Know What to Do? and the interactive learning game Help Mikey Make It Out.

You don’t even have to wait for the Daylight Saving Time change.

© Prevention 1st, May be reprinted with copyright and contact information intact.

Why Are Children Fascinated With Fire?

by Robert E. Cole, PhD, Robert E. Crandall and Carolyn E. Kourofsky

Download a printable pdf of this article here.


It’s the question we hear most often when parents, teachers and caregivers want to understand children’s fireplay: Why are children so fascinated with fire?

The fact is, not only children but adults find fire fascinating. Fire is colorful and dynamic. Its movement is gentle and soothing. It’s not surprising that fire captures our interest. From a child’s point of view, fire seems the perfect toy: colorful, animated, and responsive.

Fire is a familiar part of our culture. Through everyday use, it seems comforting, warm, and helpful. We have candles on our birthday cakes and on our dinner tables during holiday meals. Candles are a part of many religious ceremonies. Children see fire in fireplaces in winter, and campfires and barbecues in the summer.

Fire seems fragile. Most fires children see are small—candles, matches, lighters. They are easily extinguished with a puff of breath. Any child who watches an adult struggle to light the barbecue with old charcoal or start a campfire with damp wood can easily conclude that fire is hard to get started and easy to put out.

Typically, fireplay is not a sign of an emotional problem. Young children just don’t understand the consequences, and older children overestimate their ability to control fire. In research conducted in Rochester, New York, we found that 9 out of 10 children who started a fire that was reported to the fire department never started another. Once they see the consequences of their actions, the vast majority of children don’t do it again.

But children’s fireplay should be taken seriously. Even when started without any intention to do harm, fires set by children can cause serious damage and injury.

How you can reduce the likelihood of children playing with fire:

  • Keep matches and lighters out of sight and reach, even child-resistant lighters

Although child-resistant lighters are helpful, they only provide a temporary margin of safety. Given enough time, many children find ways to light them. Lighters of any sort should never be left out, and ideally should be kept in a locked drawer or cabinet.

  • Be aware of your own modeling of fire use

What you do can be more important than what you tell a child. Casual use of fire such as leaving a stove, campfire, grill or candles unattended, not only creates an immediate hazard but tells children that fire needn’t be treated seriously. Ignoring the smoke alarm, or going in search of the source of smoke instead of urging everyone to get out when the alarm sounds, sends a message that smoke and its cause isn’t serious.

  • Supervise children at home as well as outside.

Many adults assume children are safe when they are in their own bedrooms. In fact this is where most of the fires set by young children are started, often in closets.

Parents need to both monitor their children, and restrict access to ignition materials.

  • Stick to clear rules about fire.

Parents and caregivers must firmly state to children that matches and lighters are tools for adults only. Children should tell an adult if they find these materials left lying around.

It’s important that this rule be clear and consistent. Many children will assume that if they’re allowed to do something with adult supervision, it’s really all right for them to do the same thing when alone. Many cooking fires start this way.

Think about at what age you would consider someone responsible enough to babysit your children. Most people want a sitter who is older than elementary school age, because they want someone who can respond if something unexpected happens. Elementary school children are not good at anticipating what might go wrong and how to respond if something does, such as if grease from cooking catches on fire. The Babysitting Training Courses sanctioned by the American Red Cross and the National Safety Council are designed for 11-to-15-year-olds, setting a national standard concerning the age of responsibility. Learn more about when a child is ready to use the stove or oven here.

  • Install and maintain smoke alarms, and plan and practice your escape.

Information about why and how to plan and practice a home fire drill, as well as about smoke alarms, is available at

About the Authors

Robert Cole, Ph.D.  is a research psychologist and Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center School of Nursing, and one of the nation’s leading experts in fire safety education. Lt. Robert E. Crandall (Ret.) is a 30-year veteran of the Rochester Fire Department, where he helped develop the Adopt a School Program and was named Firefighter of the Year 2000. Carolyn E. Kourofsky is a freelance writer specializing in health and safety.

Learn more about how to:
Protect Your Family From Fire / Protege a su Familia de un Incendio
Protect Your Family From Scalds and Burns  / Protege a su Familia de Escaldaduras (Calentamiento) y Quemaduras

© Prevention 1st.

May be reprinted with copyright and contact information intact.

How to Prevent Scalds at Home

In the Kitchen

  • Plan ahead before cooking. Wear short- or tight-sleeved garments while cooking.
  • Plug ovens and other cooking appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance; it can trip the user, which can cause hot food spills. Keep all appliance cords coiled and away from counter edges.
  • When deep frying, prevent contact of water and steam with hot oil; allow hot oil to cool before removal.
  • To prevent spills, turn pot handles away from the stove’s edge and use the back burner when possible.
  • Only use dry oven mitts or potholders when moving hot food from ovens, microwave ovens, or stovetops.
  • During meals, place hot items in the center of the table; use non-slip placemats instead of tablecloths.
  • Treat a burn right away by putting it in cool water. Cool the burn for 3–5 minutes and immediately seek medical attention.

Use Microwave Ovens Safely

  • Place the microwave oven at a safe height, within easy reach of all users, and lower than the face of the person using the microwave.
  • Heat foods only in containers or dishes that are safe for microwave use. Never microwave uncracked eggs.
  • To prevent steam build-up, remove tight lids on food containers, puncture plastic wraps, or use vented containers.
  • Let cooked food stand for 1-2 minutes before removing from microwave oven.
  • Open heated food containers slowly, away from face or hands, to avoid steam scalds.
  • Foods heat unevenly in microwave ovens; stir and test before eating.

Bathrooms and Sinks

  • Adjust thermostat on water heater to keep hot water <120°F. Install anti-scald tempering valves or thermostatic mixing valves.
  • Before using, check water temperature with a kitchen thermometer or test with your elbow, wrist, or hand with spread fingers.
  • Start to fill bathtub with cold water and slowly mix with hot water. Avoid running water in other rooms during this time (it might increase the temperature of the water filling the bathtub) and turn off the hot water first.

* Provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adapted from recommendations of the American Burn Association and the National Fire Protection Association

After the Wells Fire: Beyond Codes and Regulation

When fire spread through the Riverview Individualized Residential Alternative in Wells, NY, four of the nine people with developmental disabilities living there perished. Today, are people with developmental disabilities any safer?


The Grand Jury Report released in December 2009 in response to the Wells fire noted that there are approximately 7,000 such group homes across New York State, and that “a very conservative estimate of the number of structure fires in these facilities is at least one each week.” It concluded:  “There is a grave, and we believe unacceptable, risk that more lives will be lost unless action is taken…to address the systemic shortcomings that affected Riverview and continue to affect every other such residence in our State.” The systemic shortcomings detailed in the report included not just structural issues but human behavior.

The report found that the Wells residence had more fire safety features than many such homes in the state, and met or exceeded all Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities residential requirements. State law already requires fire drills four times a year (two of which must be at night) for such residences.

While the Grand Jury’s recommendations called for stricter building code and fire safety standards, it also found that “the practices at Riverview were geared to meet regulatory requirements rather than to meeting the actual needs of the residents who were extraordinarily vulnerable to the risk of death in a structure fire.”

The potential downside of relying on regulation is that it can narrow the focus of all safety issues to compliance, leaving a vacuum of motivation and little understanding of why these things are necessary and desirable. Both thought and action are concentrated on meeting legal requirements. People who are never asked to reflect on the need for meaningful practice may meet only the letter of the law, e.g. performing fire drills in the same way each time, rather than practicing what to do when something unforeseen—a fire—actually happens. Regulation can give a false sense of security. Because they have met a quota of fire drills, people believe they have done a good job and everyone is now safe.

An unintended consequence of a high degree of regulation is that complex safety issues may be addressed by the lowest common denominator of compliance. Home fire safety and fire survival is in fact complicated, as everyone knows who has actually gone through the process of creating and practicing a home fire drill. There are many factors to be considered, and realistic practice can reveal dangerous flaws in an imagined escape plan. How will each member of the household get out of the home if a fire occurred? Does everyone know how to respond? What physical barriers might prevent escape? What physical and mental limitations of each individual might hinder escape? What would be the best route out, for fires in a variety of possible locations? “What if?” is a question that must be continually asked, and which is not readily answered by a regulation. One size simply doesn’t fit all.

Meaningful training is built on models proven to actually change behavior, including the critical factor of motivation. Evaluation is also needed, to know not just that training took place, but that it actually increased knowledge and the probability that people will do what they need to do.

To prevent another tragedy, safety training must change behavior and it must take place at all three levels: residents, staff, and management. If any of these three groups are not involved, meaningful safety training will not take place.

At the Wells fire, three of the residents died after they had almost made it to safety, but went back inside the burning building when the two staff members had to help a resident who had fallen or sat down. The Grand Jury found that “by not practicing full evacuations and evacuations by alternate exits, the residents, who required frequent repetition for learning and who are dependent upon habit, were put at greater risk.” It further noted the “very significant challenge presented in evacuating individuals who do not have self preservation skills,” while also noting that “these circumstances were reasonably foreseeable.”

What kind of training, then, is effective for people with developmental disabilities? In the home safety trainings that Prevention 1st has provided for Finger Lakes Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, the Arc of Monroe, Hillside Children’s Center and others, we have found that, given an opportunity, people with developmental disabilities are interested and engaged in learning about safety. With repetition, they remember important safety lessons.

In our experience people with developmental disabilities have many questions about fire safety, and their questions are very specific and pertinent to their individual situations. They ask plenty of those “What if?” questions. In other words, their questions address the true complexity of fire survival skills described above! Effective training means listening carefully to questions and using them to individualize the training so that it is meaningful to the audience. The person providing fire safety training needs an understanding of and a commitment to the goals of fire safety, as well as the motivation and enthusiasm needed to engage an audience. For this reason, and also because frequent repetition is required to retain learning, we are frequently asked to return to give additional trainings.

Staff and Management
The public report issued by the Office of Fire Prevention and Control concerning the Wells fire found that “fire safety training of new employees has steadily decreased over the years, to approximately 90 minutes.” The Grand Jury Report noted that fire safety at Riverview and other facilities is typically handled by employees who “have little training in fire safety and cannot in any sense be considered professionals in the field.”

The Grand Jury concluded that “the training appears to have been confined to the ‘RACE’ acronym…Rescue or Relocate, Alarm, Confine, Evacuate,” and that some staff members “were unable to elaborate on the acronym beyond the observation that evacuation of residents was the first priority and only after evacuation could efforts to extinguish a fire be taken.” During the Wells fire evacuation, “time was taken to answer the phone call from the alarm operator and to retrieve and discharge a fire extinguisher.” Staff members tried to evacuate residents through the main exit rather than through a side exit nearer the bedrooms which was protected by double fire doors.

At the Wells residence, fire drills conducted on the overnight shift were conducted either: 1) by simulation, with staff estimating the amount of time it would take to get residents up and out; 2) at pre-arranged times of the night and without a full evacuation, or 3) after 5 a.m., when additional staff arrived and could assist the two overnight workers in the evacuation. The result was that the most critical questions of home escape were not addressed: Can everyone get out, under real conditions?

Prevention 1st has found many caregivers are under the impression that regulations require them to perform fire drills monthly, rather than four times a year. This was the belief at the Wells residence. Unfortunately, higher repetition of drills does not necessarily lead to greater safety. Such repetition can lead to resistance, complaisance, and dangerously poor habits, such as going right back inside immediately after evacuating the building when the alarm sounds. When caregivers enforce drills but haven’t internalized the reasons for this practice, they may fail to communicate that it’s important to respond when the alarm sounds, to get outside, and stay out until told that it is safe to return.

The need for sincere support of behavior change by management is obvious. At the Wells residence, random checks of overnight staff by senior supervisors occurred, but “fire drills were generally not conducted as part of these supervisory visits.” It should be emphasized that management’s attitude is critical to the motivation of staff to take the actions that will protect both themselves and the residents in their care. Staff should not simply be threatened with consequences if they fail to comply with regulations. They should be provided with effective training, and they should be thanked, praised and respected for doing things right, even when that means doing things the hard way.


Read the full Grand Jury Report here.
Our thanks to the NYCLU for making this Report accessible.

The Top 3 Causes of Scary Halloween ER Visits – And How to Prevent Them


Halloween frights should be fun, not painful. Avoiding a scary visit to the hospital is simple, but requires some forethought.

Here are the most common reasons kids visit the hospital on Halloween, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and tips for avoiding the trip:


Pedestrian collisions with vehicles

    • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children.
    • Use flashlights, and reflective tape on bags and costumes, to be more visible.
    • Avoid darting from house to house. Stay on the sidewalk and cross at corners. If there’ s no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
    • If possible, choose hats and nontoxic makeup rather than masks, which can block a child’s vision (and yours if you’re the responsible adult!)

Eye injuries from sharp objects

    • Choose soft, flexible props when possible.
    • If a costume calls for swords, cane, or sticks, they should not be sharp, or too long (to avoid falls).

Burns from flammable costumes


Make sure costumes, wigs and accessories are made of flame-resistant materials.

  • Try a glow stick instead of a candle in jack o’lanterns.
  • Keep candlelit jack o’lanterns, and any candles, away from curtains and other flammable objects. Never leave them unattended.