Dryers and Washing Machine Fires

By ignitevs|October 9, 2018

According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), between 2010 and 2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 15,970 home fires per year involving clothes dryers or washing machines. These fires resulted in annual losses estimated at 13 deaths, 440 injuries, and $238 million in property damage. Facts and figures

  • Clothes dryers accounted for 92% of the fires; washing machines 4%, and washer and dryer combinations accounted for 5%.
  • The leading factor contributing to the ignition of home fires involving clothes dryers was failure to clean, accounting for one-third (33%) of dryer fires.
  • A mechanical or electrical failure or malfunction was involved in the vast majority of home fires involving washing machines.
  • Fires involving clothes dryers usually started with the ignition of something that was being dried or was a byproduct (such as lint) of drying, while washing machine fires usually involved the ignition of some part of the appliance.

Doing laundry is most likely part of your everyday routine. But did you know how important taking care of your clothes dryer is to the safety of your home? With a few simple safety tips you can help prevent a clothes dryer fire.

  • Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional.
  • Do not use the dryer without a lint filter.
  • Make sure you clean the lint filter before or after each load of laundry. Remove lint that has collected around the drum.
  • Rigid or flexible metal venting material should be used to sustain proper air flow and drying time.
  • Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe is not restricted and the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating. Once a year, or more often if you notice that it is taking longer than normal for your clothes to dry, clean lint out of the vent pipe or have a dryer lint removal service do it for you.
  • Keep dryers in good working order. Gas dryers should be inspected by a qualified professional to make sure that the gas line and connection are intact and free of leaks.
  • Make sure the right plug and outlet are used and that the machine is connected properly.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions and don’t overload your dryer.
  • Turn the dryer off if you leave home or when you go to bed.

The clothes dryer is an indispensable convenience and necessity. However, damaging fires can occur if clothes dryers are not properly installed and maintained.

FACT: The leading cause of home clothes dryer fires is failure to clean them.

Smoke Alarms in Clothes Dryer Fires in Occupied Residential Buildings

Smoke alarms were reported as present in 64 percent of clothes dryer fires in occupied residential buildings. In 16 percent of clothes dryer fires there were no smoke alarms present. In another 21 percent of these fires, firefighters were unable to determine if a smoke alarm was present. When smoke alarms were present (64 percent) and the alarm operational status is considered, the percentage of smoke alarms reported as present consisted of:

  • Smoke alarms present and operated—42 percent
  • Smoke alarms present but did not operate—16 percent (alarm did not operate, 8 percent; fire too small, 8 percent)
  • Some alarms present, but operational status unknown—6 percent

Smoke detectors need to be installed on all levels of your home, including basement and attic, as well as all sleeping rooms. These detectors should be wired to each other so if one sounds, they all sound.

The smoke detectors should be wired to the house power source, with battery backup. And most importantly, they should be connected to your Vigilante Security, Inc. monitored home alarm system so an alarm signal will be sent to the central station when smoke is detected. The central station will dispatch the fire department as soon as the signal is received. This is very important when no one is home. The alarm system can also monitor the smoke detectors for any loss of power, as well as the battery life.

Michigan Fatal Fire Statistics

Michigan Fatal Fire Statistics

By ignitevs|October 9, 2018

The Michigan Fire Inspectors Society created a helpful infographic recently that will give you important  fire-related data. Equipping yourself with information like this is intended to:

  • Increase awareness.
  • Motivate corrective actions.
  • Set priorities

michigan fire statistics

Click to enlarge.

The Data Big Tech Companies Have On You (Or, At Least, What They Admit To)

Have you ever asked yourself, “What does Google know about me?” The answer is uncomfortable. What Google knows about you includes everything from your clicks on ads to your birthday to the device you’re using right now and the Wi-Fi network it’s connected to. But Google pales in comparison to some of the other big companies that sell your data or collect it out there.

This is what the big six tech companies have officially admitted to collecting as far as personal data about you, according to their official privacy policies.

Data Company Have on You

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Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Microsoft all have your phone number and email address right now.

The world of personal data collection is varied, with some companies going so far as to memorize your voice and facial features and some, like Twitter, being comparatively hands-off. Twitter doesn’t even keep name, gender, or birthday data, but they do know the device you use, your messages, and your time zone.

Facebook is unusually aggressive, collecting narrower and more detailed demographic information.

Despite the recent controversies behind Facebook selling information and endangering the public, the company still collects information on your race, religion, physical location, education, income level, work, relationship status, and political views. This data can be exploited by advertisers and (hopefully not nefarious) others. Congress is less than happy about the idea of Facebook selling personal information.

People panic about Alexa, but Amazon’s collecting different problematic information.

Should Amazon have access to government IDs as well as the credit cards they already have? Since Amazon also operates somewhat like a search engine, they know a lot about your buying, clicking, and purchasing history.

Apple is surprisingly lax on their customer data collection.

Oddly, the company doesn’t seem to be interested in mining all of its customers’ information. Often, they will track metadata, such as the times when messages are sent, but not the calls or messages themselves.

Google and Microsoft are the big players in town for collecting data.

With Cortana listening in and Gmail seeing all of your emails, the ubiquitous nature of Google and Microsoft gives them access to an uncomfortably large amount of your information.

Most Dangerous States for Women’s Sexual Safety

Alaska ranks as the worst state for women’s safety according to our index, which factors in reported rape, contact sexual violence, stalking, unwanted sexual contact, and intimate partner victimization.

Among the top worst states for women in the United States are Alaska, Oregon, Maine, New Mexico, and Arkansas, all of which experience a rate of unwanted sexual contact above 10% of the population and contact sexual violence above 14% of the population.

Most Dangerous States for Women

The best states for women are Utah, Georgia, and North Dakota, all of which experienced fewer reports of sexual violence in relation to their population.

However, locals there should keep in mind that this is the lowest reported data according to the FBI and CDC — this data assumes incidences are reported. Unfortunately, sometimes these types of crimes can be normalized in certain cultures, perpetuating the problem.
We created our index based on women-specific data sets, such as the FBI’s legacy definition of rape and the CDC’s gender-specific data on stalking, intimate partner violence, and other forms of sexual misconduct. (The older definition of rape according to the FBI was a women-only issue, which was later expanded to other forms of forced sexual acts for both men and women.)
Some states experience different extremes of certain bad behaviors; for instance, Nevada, Kentucky, and Tennessee were all comparatively worse for stalking.

Most Dangerous States for Women

These five factors paint a different picture of sexual violence than simply factoring in rape only.

A quick overview of our index across the United States shows that the worst states for women in the U.S. are not necessarily clustered around states with large cities, such as California or New York. With rural American states like Oregon, Alaska, and Maine experiencing high violence statistics in relation to their population, one might assume that other rural states like North Carolina and North Dakota would also experience low violence. This is not the case, according to federally reported data.
It’s important that each individual state assesses its own cultural issues, legal red tape, and behavioral change techniques for tackling the problem of violence toward women.

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Campus Fire Safety

Campus Fire Safety

By ignitevs|August 29, 2018

On the night July 20th,, 2018, a fire swept through an apartment complex, killing five young people that were students or associated with Texas State University, in San Marcos, TX. Six others were injured, one critically burned, and over 200 people were displaced from their off campus apartments. This was the largest loss of life in a campus related fire since 2005.

With many students and parents preparing to make the move to college over the next few weeks, it is a time to think about many things. The most important thing that will concern most parents is safety. All facets of safety are important, but fire safety is critical as it involves many people.

Fire is a serious threat to a college student’s safety. Unlike crimes or personal attacks that typically only harm one victim, fire usually affects all people living in a residence hall. Fire has no conscience. It does not discriminate or select its victims. You can’t negotiate with it.

Timothy Ryan Assistant Director/Manager of EH&S Office of Public Safety & Emergency Management Ithaca College

Firefighters respond to an average of 3,810 fires in college residence halls and Greek housing each year. Since 2000, campus fires have resulted in 122 fatalities and millions of dollars in property damage. According to FEMA, the vast majority of these fires could have been prevented through awareness and education. If a college student’s most recent fire prevention training was learning to “stop, drop, and roll” in elementary school, then it’s time for a refresher.

Things to Know

There are several things everyone should know in regard to fire safety. Of course there is prevention and what to do in the event of a fire. There are also things to know before you move into a dorm, Greek housing or even off campus housing.

FEMA’s University Housing Fire Report found that fires cause $26 million in property loss annually. Court rulings have also shown more often, than not, that college and universities are not liable for accidents or unsafe actions by students, so having an insurance policy is essential.

Parents and students tend to believe that the parents’ homeowner’s policies protect them, but that is often untrue. Those policies usually have high deductibles or complicated eligibility requirements that exclude certain claims.

Before moving on campus, you should carefully examine your homeowner’s policy. It may be a good idea to take out a separate policy. To find coverage, you should:

  • Inquire as to how much it would cost to make adjustments to your policy.
  • Check with the school. Many colleges and universities offer special policies with registration.
  • Get several quotes for renter’s insurance. A quick online search will bring up a list of companies to call.

More importantly, you should also be knowledgeable about the facility your student will be living.

The Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know Act is an amendment to the Higher Education Opportunity Act. This amendment serves to increase campus fire safety awareness across the nation, providing students and their families with the fire safety records of colleges/universities. This information provides prospective and current students of the policies, concerns, and fire safety conditions that are present at the institution in which they have applied or are enrolled.

If you do not see this information and statistics, ask for them.

Here are some important questions for STUDENTS and PARENTS to ask:

  1. How many fires have happened on campus in the past year? How many in off-campus housing?
  1. Are residence halls, Greek housing or off-campus housing protected by automatic fire sprinklers?
  1. Does every student’s room have a smoke alarm? If so, does it send a signal to campus security, or to the fire department?
  1. Do you know how many false alarms have occurred in residence halls? False alarms are dangerous on their own in that they can cause students and staff to stop paying attention to the alarms—and that can be a fatal decision.
  1. What are the disciplinary steps the college will take against anyone causing a false alarm, failing to evacuate during an alarm, or tampering with fire safety equipment?
  1. In case of any alarm system activation, is the fire department immediately notified?
  1. What items—and practices—are prohibited in residence halls because of fire safety? Make sure that candles, firepots, and halogen lamps are not permitted, and that smoking is off limits.
  1. What are the school’s policies on permissible and safe electrical appliances such as surge protectors, etc.?
  1. How much fire prevention training does the residence hall staff receive?
  1. How often do students themselves receive fire prevention education?
  1. How often are evacuation drills conducted? There should be at least one per semester.
  1. How often are fire safety inspections of the residence halls and student rooms done? Are the results shared with students and parents?
  1. For off-campus housing, are there working smoke alarms in each bedroom and on each level?
  1. Are there couches or upholstered furniture on the front porch or deck? Many communities have banned these due to fires having started in couches and spread into houses, especially in high fire-risk areas.
  1. Are students and parents aware that setting fires is a serious crime, and can be punishable by fines and time in prison?

Off campus housing checklist


How to Respond to a Fire Alarm

Regardless of what causes a fire, many experts agree that lack of knowledge about fire prevention and safety is the real issue. While most students learned about fire safety in elementary school, they need additional training. https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/campus_fire_safety_flyers.pdf

Fire safety experts stress the importance of practicing escape plans in case of fire in a residence hall room. Practice should include trying a blindfold. If at night, with heavy smoke and no lights, you may not be able to see where you are going. You should know by experience how to get out of the building. A fire alarm should never be ignored. Students must get out of the building immediately and stay out until given the direction to come back in.

When a fire occurs students should:

  • “Get low and go” under the smoke to the nearest safe exit, assisting people with mobility impairments
  • Never use the elevator – take the stairs instead
  • Carefully feel a closed door for heat before opening. If it’s hot, find another way out

If trapped in a room:

  • Keep doors closed.
  • Call 911.
  • Put a wet towel under the door to keep out smoke.
  • Open a window and wave a bright cloth or flashlight to signal for help.

Fire Safety Considerations for Students with Disabilities

According to the United States Fire Authority (USFA), practicing proven fire safety precautions increases the chances that people with mobility, sight and hearing disabilities will survive a fire:

Gail Minger founded The Michael H. Minger Foundation after her son died at Murray State University in Kentucky from arson. His non-verbal learning disability contributed to his death. The foundation has worked to advance fire safety awareness through education, legislation and research to ensure all students are safe. http://www.mingerfoundation.org/

While the reported number of on-campus fires and fatalities are disturbing, for the last decade the numbers have been steadily declining. Off campus housing is still a great concern and parents and students need to be extra vigilant when choosing a rental. With continued awareness in prevention, safety and regulations, the numbers will continue to fall and colleges can be a safer place to live and learn.

College will be challenging for most students. It will also be very stressful for many parents to have their children living away from home. With proper education and planning, parents should feel confident their students are capable of meeting and overcoming whatever challenges they may face in school and in the future.