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As a Firefighter I’ve seen a lot of fires that began small burn well out of control, both inside and outside. We all know that fire is a very useful tool, but it can also be a damaging force in our environment.

The key to staying safe is to not only work to prevent a fire, but also, to know what to do and to be absolutely sure that your kids know what to do in the event that there is a fire in your home or another building.

This is not to say that we must frighten them, and that is not our intent, but it is absolutely imperative that the rules for a fire and what to do if things happen be given to them, so that they can help to prevent them, and to protect themselves in the event that you cannot help them to escape a fire.

There are a few things we can do to work toward our own safety. The wise parent and teacher will go over each of these things with a child to educate them so that they know inherently what to do in the event of an emergency such as this, when its difficult for an adult to think clearly let alone a child.

Talk with your children and make sure that you have a planned escape route that they are capable of making use of even if you are not there to help them. Have one or two surprize drills so that the escape routes are practiced and you are certain they are effective. While this may seen like a lot of effort, and a busy parent doesn’t always have the time, making time for your childs safety is certain an important part of his education.

Instruct them where to meet you when they go outside and to stay in that spot even if you do not join them for a long while, or if you don’t make it there, never go back inside the home.

One point that isn’t raised often is what we as firefighter will look like when we enter a building to bring someone out.
In some cases, wearing maskes and with tanks on our backs, children have become frightened and run or hid from the firefighters who were there to protect them or to bring them out.
Help them by taking them to a fire department or to a fire safety program, to know what a firefighter will look like inside a building, so that they will be prepared for what most children feel is a scarey look.

Teach children home safety by making some points about what is not acceptable for them to touch or play with and help to insure your families safety by being certain that:

*Fire extinguishers are in place in your home.
*Fire and smoke detectors are in place, and kept useable with batteries checked monthly.
*Smoke only when you are awake and aware and do not take your cigarettes into a bedroom. Make this a rule for any smokers in your home.
*Cook carefully and make sure that your cooking is not unattended.,
*Make and enforce a “child free” zone around the area where you are cooking.( three feet is a good zone )*Turn your pot handles in so that children can’t bump or grab at them.

A few things we can do to help prevent fires in our home:

Assure safe use of electricity by unplugging appliances such as toasters when not in use, and do not overload extension cords, put them under a rug, or permit them to be used if they are not in very good condition.

Check your fire place and your chimney each fall before fire season to make sure it is free of creosote, bird nest or anything else that may cause a chimney fire.

NEVER use a space heater inside your home and keep portable heaters of any type at least three feet away from any flammable material.

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN: matches lighter and other flammable devices are tools not toys and keep them put away.

IN THE CASE OF A FIRE

make certain your children know:

Stop, drop and roll, don’t try to run or to take their clothing off.

smoke will rise and cause their lungs to hurt and burn. In any smoky situation, regardless of whether or not you see flames, always assume the safer air is near the floor and crawl out of the building on your hands and knees.

Each year there are literally hundred of homes burned and people injured because of fires inside the home.
Be certain, by working with your famiy, that you know what to do to keep yourselves safe.

For more on fire safety and fun ways to teach it to children, visit McGruff.Org

Robbi Drake is a Nationally Certified Firefighter I and Firefighter Evaluator

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