Kids at Home

With many schools closed and parents working from home due to coronavirus, many households are disrupted. As you try to establish normal routines for these abnormal times, keep safety in mind:

  • Tripping hazards—toys, shoes, books on the floor—can accumulate quickly when kids are home all day. To prevent falls and keep pathways clear if you need to get out quickly on case of fire, make “pick up” a regular part of kids’ routines.
  • Maintain a “child-free zone” around a hot cooktop and oven. Children ages 8 and younger can help in the kitchen, but only with activities that don’t involve heat or knives. Check out Kids in the Kitchen for what kitchen responsibilities are appropriate at different ages. And while you’re cooking more at home, make sure you’re Modeling Kitchen Fire Safety.
  • Looking for activities to do with your kids? If you haven’t planned—or recently reviewed—your home fire escape plan now could be the perfect time. Learn how at www.homefiredrill.org

Online activities for kids:

Mikey Makes a Mess – a children’s book by Fireproof Children

Help Mikey Make It Out – an award-winning online teaching game

‘Safe at Home’ Graduates Gain Safety and Pride

Sheryl Watts

Sheryl Watts, a Safe at Home trainer for Prevention 1st, sees firsthand the positive effect the program has on individuals and their families

Recently she worked with Christopher, a young man who lives with his parents and was excited every week about what he was learning. And he loved sharing his knowledge, often saying at the end of his session with Sheryl: “I can’t wait for Dad to come home so I can teach him this!”

His excitement rose highest at the final session, when he was able to perform all the safety techniques he’d learned without prompting. When Sheryl told him he was officially graduated and would get a certificate, his reveled in his accomplishment:  “I can’t believe I did that!”

Safe at Home trainers all have a fire safety background. Sheryl also works full-time at Lifetime Assistance, where she is in charge of fire safety.  Each training starts with an assessment of any fire hazards in the home, and for this Sheryl often teams up with another trainer who has experience as a firefighter.

At the first session she also assesses the current fire safety knowledge of the person being trained.  Then in 30-45 minute in-home weekly sessions, Sheryl teaches them about cooking safety, identifying fire hazards, locating and testing smoke alarms, exiting when the alarm goes off, and calling 9-1-1. Each week the previous week’s lessons are also reviewed.

Training may last from 3 weeks to 8 weeks depending on the person’s knowledge at the beginning and how well they retain new knowledge. At the end of each of Christopher’s sessions, Sheryl talked about what he had learned with his mother, who worked with him between weekly sessions.

“Actually practicing the techniques is important,” explains Sheryl. “Christopher learned how to exit his bedroom safely if the alarm goes off:  test the door using the back of the hand, take a cell phone and shoes, and if the door is hot how to block smoke from under the door and go to the window to signal for help”.

Safe at Home is customized to the individual. Sheryl has worked with one young woman with autism who wasn’t very verbal.  So they made picture cards together and then used them as part of learning.

“I’d ask ‘There’s a noise going off, what could that be?’ And she’d point to the alarm, “ Sheryl explains.  “We’d lay out the cards in a sequence showing what might make the alarm go off—fire—and what we should do next—an exit.”

All of Sheryl’s trainees have one thing in common:  “They really want to learn, and to be safe.”

Seeing the sense of accomplishment they get from their achievements is very rewarding for Sheryl. So is their determination to apply what they’ve learned. For example, at the beginning of his training Christopher could find the smoke alarm but didn’t know how to test it. Sheryl demonstrated the test button and they discussed how important it is that the alarm is always working. Now Christopher is looking forward to testing those alarms–with his father–every month.

Make This a Summer of Safety

In summer we all tend to kick back and relax the rules a bit. It’s a great time of year, but to keep it safe there are still a few rules worth keeping:

  1. Always watch children when they’re in or near water. Pool Safely, a campaign launched by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to reduce childhood drownings, recommends designating an adult Water Watcher to supervise children in the water, even where there’s also a lifeguard. Watching should be their only task – they shouldn’t be reading, texting or playing games on their phone.
  2. When swimming outside, get everyone out of the water if you hear thunder or see lightning.
  3. Looking for a game to keep young children occupied? Help Mikey Make It Out is a fun, interactive game that teaches life-saving home escape lessons. They can also read the storybook Mikey Makes a Mess online, in English or Spanish.
  4. Leave fireworks to the pros, even where they’re legal. Here’s why.
  5. While your fireplace isn’t getting used, call to schedule an annual chimney cleaning.
  6. As cooking moves outside, enforce a “3-Foot Rule” just as you do for the stove. Keep children and pets at least three feet from the fire.
  7. Summer is peak season for wildfires.  Check the predicted risk for the area where you live (or plan to visit) here, and always stay tuned to local weather and news.
  8. Find more tips about safe use of campfires, outdoor grills and firepits at flickitsafely.com.            
  9. Summer fun activities can get chaotic. To prevent falls, make sure you wipe up spills promptly, and remind everyone to pick up clutter, which can be a tripping hazard–especially toys. Get more fall prevention tips.
  10. Wear a bike helmet, and make sure you and your children know the rules of the road.

Find more tips on our Safety Resources page.

Now’s the Time to Check–Maybe Replace–Your CO Alarms

Test your CO alarm today

In 2011, laws passed almost simultaneously in many states required the installation of carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in most houses, apartment buildings, rental dwellings and hotels. Since most CO alarms have a lifespan of no more than 7 years, yours might be expiring right now.

Old units lose efficiency and can put your family at risk of fatal CO poisoning. CO is invisible and odorless, so an early warning from a working CO alarm is crucial. CO can be created when fuels used in heating and cooking equipment don’t burn completely. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

Some questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Do I have enough CO alarms (and smoke alarms)? The US Fire Administration recommends installing CO alarms in a central location outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of your home (including the basement).
  2. Do all alarms comply with manufacturer instructions and current guidelines about their shelf life? Check the manufacturer’s recommendations (usually on the back of each unit) for how often your CO alarm will need to be replaced. It’s usually 5 to 7 years.
  3. Do I know that every alarm—both CO and smoke alarm—is working? Even units that have life-long batteries or are hard-wired still need to be checked at least every six months. The US Fire Administration suggests checking each alarm once a month. Learn how to test your CO alarm here.
  4. Will everyone in your home always respond immediately and appropriately when any alarm activates? Have you planned your escape route? Have you practiced it? Could everyone do it even if the alarm sounds in the middle of the night?
  5. Can everyone living in my home hear every alarm from any location—especially from their bedrooms? For those that have significant hearing issues, bed shakers and strobe lights can supplement alarms. For all homes, interconnected alarms are recommended. You can convert existing units, both smoke and CO, to be wirelessly interconnected using products available in stores and online. Learn more from manufacturers First Alert and Kidde.

Prevention 1st Announces “Films on Fire!”

TO KICK OFF FIRE PREVENTION MONTH, 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 www.prevention1st.org/fof2019 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

1-Minute Moves That Stop Injuries

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 cause of 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.

Got a few minutes more? Use these 8 simple tips.

Teaching Teens With I/DD Fire Safety: Classroom Plans and Modules

Effective fire prevention and survival skills—life skills that can protect young lives now and in their future lives—are more than school fire drills, a session of stop, drop and roll, or a mention of pot holders during a cooking lesson. Children and teens with intellectual disabilities are at higher for preventable injuries, including fire and burns. Teens are an especially important group to reach with effective fire safety skills, because they are approaching an age when many will move into more independent living situations—where their risk increases. This article includes six modules for lessons and classroom activities, discussion prompts and take-home materials that cover the key skills of kitchen safety, smoke alarms and exit plans, and calling 911.

Get the full article and fire safety lesson plans.

Safe at Home Training Adds Food Safety

Prevention 1st’s Safe at Home safety training has always included important cooking safety skills to prevent kitchen fires and burns. Now it will also address the top 3 causes of foodborne illness: Improper hand washing; Not cooking foods to the correct temperature; and Storing foods at incorrect temperature. The training will include cues to action and information to be shared with caregivers and circles of support.

The Food Safety curriculum covers 4 topics:

CLEAN, including proper techniques for handwashing, cleaning dishes, surfaces and inside of refrigerator, and storing cleaning supplies.

SEPARATE, avoiding cross-contamination by storing raw meat or seafood separate from other foods on the lowest refrigerator shelf, and cleaning hands and all items that come in contact with raw meat or seafood.

COOK, including following directions, microwave safety, minimum safe internal cooking temperatures, and how to use a meat thermometer.

CHILL, covering proper refrigeration, freezing and thawing techniques.

Learn more about Safe at Home training.

Senior Safety Marshals Help Reduce Fire Risk

In the crowded Lily Café, the Prevention 1st Senior Safety Marshals know how to get and keep the attention of their peers. They begin their presentation with a stark fact: “People our age are 6 times more likely to die in a fire.”

The Senior Safety Marshals then share stories of mistakes they themselves have made that put them at risk—a candle left smoldering, falling asleep while smoking, coming home from a night out and carelessly frying some chicken. Their audience nods in recognition. They have all made careless mistakes that could have turned into tragedies.

Finally, the team shares with their fully engaged audience such simple but effective strategies as keeping a phone next to the bed, having good night lighting, turning off the cooktop if they leave the kitchen while cooking, and taking proper precautions if they have oxygen tanks in their home.

Through funding from the John F. Wegman Fund of the Rochester Area Community Foundation and Prevention 1st donors, Prevention 1st recruited and trained the six Safety Marshals through the Lily Café program run by Lifespan at the Maplewood YMCA. Prior to their six weeks of training together, most of the team members didn’t know each other. Now, “we’re a family.”

They’re spreading fire safety messages throughout their communities. Bill, who lives in a housing complex of four buildings, has recruited three volunteers to work with him as fire monitors, communicating with residents about preparation and response and checking fire escapes to make sure they are clear. Sheron is now regularly posting fire safety information and reminders to her friends through Facebook. Inez is determined to make sure that all of her neighbors have working smoke alarms: “The young think ‘It can’t happen to me’ and the old think ‘It hasn’t happened to me yet.’ Well, it can. I ask my neighbors, did you check your smoke alarm, did you change the battery?”

Robert Crandall, the Prevention 1st trainer who trained the Senior Safety Marshals and who is a retired firefighter, noted the effectiveness of this peer-to-peer strategy: “The fire department tells people these things all the time, but when the information is personalized and comes from a peer and neighbor, people are more motivated to take action.”

As the population 65 and older continues to grow, this model has an important role in community safety and in reducing the burden of caregiving, according to Michelle LeBoo, Lifespan Program Coordinator: “They’re providing a type of caregiving. They are caring for their peers, helping them avoid injuries and remain in their homes safely for a longer time.”

Following their presentation to their fellow Café participants, the team is scheduling additional trainings at area senior centers, residences, and other community program sites. They’re also reaching out to potential sponsors to enhance the program with additional safety giveaways and materials, and to attract others to become more involved in fire safety.

In addition to working with the Lily Café participants, the Prevention 1st training team presented to the staff and key volunteers of an additional ten senior organizations, including the Monroe County Office for the Aging, Refugees Helping Refugees, Ontario ARC, Bay View Family YMCA, Monroe Community Hospital, Catholic Family Center, Charles Settlement House, and the Summit at Brighton, ultimately reaching well over 1,000 older adults.

If you’d like to learn more about the Senior Safety Marshals program, please contact Molly Clifford at (585) 383-6507 or MollyClifford@prevention1st.org

Teaching People With Intellectual Disabilities to Live Independently and Safely

Safe_at_home_Ryan_Cooking2Prevention 1st has entered the exciting next phase in its development of an evaluated curriculum for teaching safety to people with intellectual disabilities, thanks to grants from the Developmental Disabilities Giving Circle of the Rochester Area Community Foundation and the Jane L. and Laurence C. Glazer Charitable Trust.

More people with intellectual disabilities are choosing to live independently or semi-independently, with less intensive supervision and supports. Without effective safety skills training, these individuals and their families are concerned about prevention and preparedness.

In the pilot program funded by these two grants, focus groups were held and in-home training sessions are underway with 30 individuals with intellectual disabilities who are new to independent living. Because of the great variability in residential settings, the program began with an environmental assessment and orientation for each of the individuals along their circles of support.

Prevention 1st and its expert partner Community Health Strategies will adapt the curriculum as necessary to teach fire and kitchen safety skills to the individuals in the pilot program. They will also test the use of a wireless tablet produced by program partner Touch Stream Solutions, which audibly and visually reminds users of important tasks such as checking smoke alarms and practicing an exit route.

The pilot program will be evaluated throughout its delivery. Progress on skills development and hazard reduction will be tracked and measured to assess effectiveness. Program trainers will also communicate regularly with each person’s circles of support to get their input on the progress of their loved one’s skills.

Based on the results of this pilot program, Prevention 1st will finalize the assessment tool, training curriculum and associated materials. The pilot will provide the foundation for a groundbreaking, evidence-based curriculum that will meet the needs of an emerging population of people with intellectual disabilities who will be living more independently than ever.

If you live in the Rochester, NY area and you’d like to join the pilot program, please submit a Participant Application.

Many thanks to the Safe at Home Project Steering Committee:

Katie Abbott, People Inc.

Anthony Arnitz, NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities

Joel Benzel, Touch Stream Solutions

Jason Blackwell, Starbridge

Holly Brown, University of Rochester Medical Center

Molly Clifford, Community Health Strategies

Robert Cole, Ph.D, Community Health Strategies

Ann Costello, Golisano Foundation

Robert Crandall, Prevention 1st

Jack Dinaburg, Prevention 1st

Julia Engstrom, Trinity Assistance Corp.

Ernie Haywood, Lifetime Assistance

Karen Knauf, Injury Free Coalition for Kids

Cindy Lill, In the Driver’s Seat

David McAdam, Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities

Wendy McLaughlin, Touch Stream Solutions

Debbie Napolitano, Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities

Jen Ralph, Community Health Strategies

Joyce Steel, In the Driver’s Seat

Nick Vignati, Arc of Ontario

 

Related articles:

How Can People With Disabilities Be Safe While Living Independently?

Top Safety Concerns for People With Developmental Disabilities: Fire and Cooking