By Kristy Alpert
Educating the neighborhood about fire safety is serious business, but that doesn’t necessarily mean hosting a dull fire safety class.
“Anything someone can do to make their community a little bit safer for the people who live there will bring them together and make it a better place to live,” says Tom Olshanski, spokesperson for the U.S. Fire Administration in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Getting the community involved
Whether it’s enlisting help from a member of the Fire Corps, a community of volunteers seeking to educate about fire safety, or even contacting your local fire department to have a fire officer speak at a local school, it takes just one person to ignite interest in community fire safety.
Organizations like National Night Out provide a great outlet for promoting safety in your community and can be the perfect opportunity for your next fire safety class. Want to keep the kiddos focused on the lessons? Talk to your local fire department about using one of its fire prevention trailers, which teaches people how to crawl in smoke should a fire occur.
“When it comes down to it, the three most common causes of fire are men, women, and children,” Olshanski says. “Fire is so easily prevented, yet we’re willing to risk so much. Taking the time to plan a course in a community really could save lives.”
Fire safety for your family
Olshanski also notes that there are four things every home needs to have in place:
- Working smoke detectors. Ideally, there should be a minimum of one per room. “They have a 10-year life on them, and it’s like having a firefighter in your home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” Olshanski adds.
- Completed fire safety checklist. Checklists are available at usfa.dhs.gov and Associa Supports Kids. “Kids are generally very energized by helping out with fire safety,” Olshanski says. “It only takes once or twice for a child to ask if the smoke alarm has been checked before an adult will quickly check their smoke detectors.”
- Well-practiced escape plan. Navigating a smoky room can be difficult at any time of the day, but by practicing the safest escape path with your children and elderly parents, your family will be ready anytime.
- Planned exterior rendezvous point. Knowing what to do once you get out of the building will be key to keeping family members safe. It will also make it easier to identify who’s missing once the fire officer asks that one simple question: “Is everyone out of the building?”