Monday, October 17, 2016

Fire prevention week teaches people of all ages to be safe

Firefighters nationwide during fire prevention week are teaching elementary school students how to “stop, drop and roll.”

Firefighters visit students at their schools in October to talk about fire prevention and safety measures. Kids get excited when they see the firefighters arrive on their apparatus.The firefighters gear up in their protective  clothing and SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus)  to show kids what they will look like during an emergency, as a way to show the kids they are not scary, but rather, they are there to help them.  Firefighters show them how to crawl low in smoky conditions and what to do in the event of a fire.

I remember attending these school programs and open houses at fire stations throughout Delaware County when I was a kid and how I found everything exciting – there was so much to see on the ambulances, the fire apparatus and in the respective stations.

Whether I’m at such events as a volunteer firefighter or a journalist, I noticed that some students are not shy about asking the firefighters questions. Asking questions is another way to learn.

Firefighters encourage students to practice fire drills at home, similar to the fire drills they practice at school with their classmates and teachers. They encourage families to designate a safe meeting spot, such as at a neighbor’s house where they can call 911 during an emergency. Practicing such drills helps kids know what to do when the smoke detector sounds.

The firefighters tell kids to not hide during a fire. They should safely exit. Firefighters urge the public to get out of a burning building or their burning home and stay out. Several kids asked about hiding under their beds or jumping out of a window, but fighters tell them to exit, or if that is not possible, to wait for them to rescue them. Firefighters urged the kids that if they cannot exit, to close the bedroom door, go to the window and yell for help. During searches, firefighters check under the bed, on top of the bed, behind doors, closets and other areas like that in case someone hid or was unable to exit. 

Photo by Ginger Rae Dunbar - Firefighters nation wide visit elementary schools during national fire prevention week to talk to students about fire prevention and fire safety.  
Firefighters also encourage the public to make fire safety and prevention longer than its designated week in October. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) said its Fire Prevention week campaign this year is “don’t wait – check the date” to replace smoke alarms every 10 years. There should be a smoke detector in every room.

NFPA’s survey data shows that the “public has many misconceptions about smoke alarms, which may put them at increased risk in the event of a home fire.” NFPA said for example, only a small percentage of people know how old their smoke alarms are, or how often they need to be replaced. NFPA noted to find out how old a smoke alarm is, look at the date of manufacture on the back of the alarm and replace the alarm 10 years from that date. One recommendation is to write the replacement date on the back of the smoke detector. A rule of thumb is checking the batteries twice a year – during daylights saving time.

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