By: Sue Anganes
I realize that you won’t read this until after you get home from camp, but just know that I rescued you today at 5:11 am when our fire alarm went off. I ran to your room first and stood stunned when you were not there. It took me a minute to realize you were at camp. At least I thought of you this time, unlike the last time when I rescued my pillow and went out the front door….
Thankfully, every time our smoke alarms have gone off they have been false alarms. Once, in the past, I left my purse (which I specifically keep by my bed in case of a fire) and all the kids, and carried my pillow downstairs and out the front door. My daughter Tessa rescued her younger brothers Ted and Ray. My other sons, Andrew and Charlie, slept through the whole thing. It’s so easy to be confused when you are woken up by a deafening alarm. It was somewhat comical that I carried my pillow with me out the front door, but I was obviously disoriented. If it had been a real fire, we would have been in trouble.
We all need to teach our children what to do in the event of a fire. Here are the recommendations from the American Red Cross regarding fire safety for kids:
Prevent Your Child from Starting Fires
The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that 300 people are killed and $280 million in property is destroyed each year as the result of children playing with fire.
– Keep matches, lighters and other ignitable substances in a secured location out of your child’s reach. Only use lighters with child-resistant features.
– Invest in flameless candles. These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of your child knocking over a candle.
Help Your Child Survive a Fire
– Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Once a month check whether each alarm in the home is working properly by pushing the test button. Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Immediately install a new battery if an alarm chirps, warning the battery is low.
– Teach your children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
– Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home, and where to meet up outside.
– Practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year and at different times of the day. Practice waking up to smoke alarms, low crawling and meeting outside. Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
– Emphasize “get out, stay out.” Only professional firefighters should enter a building that is on fire—even if other family members, pets or prized possessions are inside.
– Use quick-release devices on barred windows and doors. Security bars without release devices can trap you in a deadly fire. If you have security bars on your windows, be sure one window in each sleeping room has a release device.
– Consider getting escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second or third floor. Learn how to use them, and store them near the windows.
– Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.
For more information go to http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire/fire-safety-for-kids