Fire Safety Mom's Household Tips -- How a Fire Safety Expert & Mother of Three Safeguards Her Home from Fire

October is National Fire Safety Month; October 9-15 is Fire Prevention Week

Contact: WPI Media Relations, +1-508-831-5609

WORCESTER, Mass. -- October 9, 2005 -- Kathy Notarianni, Ph.D., is a fire safety expert and the mother of three young children. How does she safeguard her own home from fire?

For National Fire Safety Month in October and Fire Prevention Week (October 9-15), Notarianni, director of the Center for Firesafety Studies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, has compiled eight safety tips she and her husband, Michael (a retired fire chief, who now runs his own fire and safety consulting company), practice in their Massachusetts home.

Parents ask doctors how they treat their children when they are sick, and stockbrokers are asked what stocks they buy for themselves. So when Notarianni is asked how she safeguards her home, these are some simple tips she gives:

  • Make sure your home has at least one smoke detector on every floor and outside of sleeping areas. For extra safety, install smoke alarms both inside and outside of sleeping areas.
  • Change your smoke detector battery at least once a year (and when it makes a chirping sound, which means the battery is running low). A good time to do this is in the fall when we set our clocks back at the end of daylight-saving time.
  • Test your smoke detector once each month by pushing the test button.
  • Do not run extension cords under rugs.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use.
  • Do not leave space heaters unattended.
  • Develop and practice a family escape plan.
  • Have a pre-arranged meeting place outside the house.

"As simple as these tips are, Americans have become complacent when it comes to home fire safety," says Notarianni. "As a result, the United States still has one of the highest rates of death from fire in the industrialized world. Yet, by remembering to take these few easy steps, people can dramatically reduce the risk of fire in the home."

Notarianni is an expert in the highly specialized field of fire protection engineering, which incorporates elements of civil, structural, electrical, and chemical engineering to make structures, vehicles, clothing, and people safer from fire. In addition to directing the Center for Firesafety Studies, she heads the WPI Fire Protection Engineering Department, and is an associate professor of fire protection engineering. Prior to joining WPI, Notarianni spent 15 years with the federal government's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where she led a program to quantify fire events for fire hazard and risk assessment. She has been recognized by the Society of Fire Protection Engineers and the U.S. Department of Commerce with awards for leadership and performance.

WPI is home to the world's leading educational program in fire protection engineering. In addition to offering the nation's first master's degree program, the university was the first to provide a graduate-level program in fire protection engineering via distance learning in 1993, and it grants the world's only formal Ph.D. program in the field.