In This Time of Thanks…

Barely a month ago, FLASH held its 2011 Annual Meeting during which it named its Heroes of the Disaster Safety Movement – 13 people who everyday serve to inspire us as they dedicate their time, skills and energies toward making our nation safer and more disaster resistant. They are:

Mark Benthien, Executive Director, Earthquake Country Alliance – for his extraordinary efforts as lead organizer of the Great California Shakeout – to increase earthquake awareness among millions, reduce economic losses and save lives. 

Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency – for his efforts to serve the mitigation movement well beyond his role at FEMA by sharing his wealth of leadership experience with the emergency management community.

David Halstead, Deputy Director, Florida Division of Emergency Management — for more than a decade of service to the disaster safety movement through extraordinary leadership in emergency management.

General Russel Honore – for taking up the call to arms and bringing a culture of preparedness to the nation.

Dr. Rick Knabb, Hurricane Expert and Tropical Program Manager for The Weather Channel – for his exceptional coverage of Hurricane Irene.

Forrest Masters, PhD, PE, Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering, University of Florida — for groundbreaking research that led to the first Wall of Wind, and for his ongoing identification of breakthrough research to support a strong, better built environment.

Max Mayfield, WPLG-Local 10 TV (Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL), Former Director of the National Hurricane Center — for continuing to give back to the community with his no-hype approach to hurricane coverage, and for his consistent efforts to educate government agencies and citizens throughout the U.S. about being better prepared for hurricanes.

Bill Read, Director of the National Hurricane Center — for continuing the tradition between FLASH and NOAA, for his delivery of information in real time as hurricanes bear down on this country; and for helping to make StormStruck a reality.

Tim Reinhold, Ph.D., P.E., Senior Vice President for Research and Chief Engineer, Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) – for influencing residential and commercial structural design and construction resulting in stronger, safer and more resilient building practices.

Dominic Sims, COO, International Code Council – for extraordinary leadership in the creation of model building codes to ensure a safe, sound and sustainable built environment.

Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Florida Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service – for creating meaningful collaborations among disaster safety organizations that result in positive change on the ground in communities nationwide.

John Zarrella, Miami Correspondent for CNN — for going into harm’s way to deliver timely news thus ensuring those in need are being served.

Thank you all for the critical role you play in the disaster safety movement – a movement that has taken great strides to better protect our nation from both man-made and natural disasters. And thanks to the thousands of others in the movement – those our “Heroes” have inspired to further influence stronger, safer residential and commercial structural design and building practices, create and enact stricter building codes, and better educate consumers on the importance of disaster preparedness.

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at FLASH.

Fireplace Safety Tips for Winter

As winter approaches, families across the country are looking for safe ways to keep warm including lighting up the fireplace. These tips from FLASH and the US Fire Administration will help you keep your family safe and warm this winter season.

Fireplace Safety

Before You Light the First Fire
Before you light your first fire of the season, be sure you have completed these safety steps:

  • Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
  • Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and inside and outside of sleeping areas. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
  • Provide proper venting systems for all heating equipment. Make sure all vent pipes extend at least three feet above the roof.

Fireplace Safety Tips
While enjoying your fire all winter, be sure that each fire is as safe as it is warm:

  • If you have glass doors, leave them open while burning a fire so that the fire receives enough air to ensure complete combustion and keep creosote from building up in the chimney.
  • Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces that do not have a glass fireplace door.
  • Never use flammable liquids to start a fire and use only seasoned hardwood. Never burn cardboard boxes, trash, charcoal or debris in your fireplace or wood stove.
  • Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.
  • When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on an adequate supporting grate.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving your home.
  • Keep air inlets on wood stoves open and never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.

These resources and a lot more will be available as a part of the FLASH Great Winter Weather Party set to launch in early December. Stay tuned for details!

Post-Earthquake Tips

As officials in central Oklahoma assess for damage from the largest quake to hit the state since record-keeping began, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes® (FLASH)  — the country’s leading consumer advocate for strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and manmade disasters — offers the following post-earthquake safety precautions.

“It’s important for consumers to take safety precautions after an earthquake has passed and to expect aftershocks,” says Leslie Chapman-Henderson. “Being aware of the risks of damage to your home will help to keep you and your family out of harms’ way,” she adds.

FLASH provides the following safety precautions:

  • Don’t move injured persons unless they are in immediate danger.
  • Turn on your TV or radio for emergency information and instructions.
  • Check utilities for gas and/or water leaks or broken electrical connections.
  • Be prepared to turn off utilities in the event they are damaged.
  • Clean up medications, cleaning products and/or flammable liquids.
  • Check food and water supplies.
  • Open cabinets carefully to avoid objects falling out.
  • Ensure water is safe to drink.
  • DO NOT use matches in damaged areas until all gas lines are checked for leaks (keep flashlights and plenty of batteries at hand).
  • Use a camera or camcorder to record thoroughly any damage done to your home before any repairs are attempted.
  • Consider having professionals/licensed contractors inspect your home for damage and help in repairs. This includes electricians and professionals to inspect gas lines, remove uprooted trees and check plumbing.
  • Remember that downed or damaged trees can contain power lines that can be hazardous.
  • Use a camera or camcorder to thoroughly record damage to your home before repairs are attempted.
  • Avoid driving as roads may be blocked.
  • If you do leave your home, make sure that carry current identification. You may have to pass through identification checkpoints before being allowed access back to your home/neighborhood.
  • Avoid sightseeing or entering damaged areas unnecessarily. You could be mistaken for a looter.
  • Avoid downed power lines even if they look harmless.
  • Avoid metal fences and other metal objects near downed lines.

For more consumer education information about earthquakes visit