Teaching kids about fire safety

January 21, 2010 3:17:41 PM PST
Saving lives starts with the littlest ones. You may remember learning in school about "Stop, Drop and Roll." Those lessons can stick with a child for a lifetime. So what does every child need to know?

Children should begin learning about fire safety as soon as they're sleeping in their own beds.

"Parents think they're going to be able to get to their children and save them, and children think that they're going to be able to get to their parents and have them save them," Nassau County fire marshal Vincent McManus said. "That may not work."

At the Nassau County Fire Museum, Chief John Wolffe shows a number of interactive displays. There is a video that shows how quickly a fire escalates, emphasizing the point that every second counts.

There is a mock 911 call that reinforces the need to get out before calling for help. There's also a training academy, where kids become lifesavers. Children often hide in closets and other spots where rescuers must find them.

"There are children who just don't know what to do," Wolffe said.

That's where McManus steps in. He educates kids inside their own home.

On this day, he walked four young girls through the entire process. He set off a smoke alarm, and as he instructed, the girls crawled to the door. The first time, it was cool to the touch.

In another drill, the girls were faced with an obstacle. The door was hot, so they escaped through a window.

The girls had arranged a meeting place away the burning home to find each other once they got outside.

"It was really interesting to hear that," one of the girls said. "Even if we're coming from different directions, we should always have a meeting spot."

"I learned that you should always touch a door to see if it's hot, and if it is, you shouldn't go, obviously," said another.

"I should stay low and go, and not worry about my clothing or anything in my surrounding," a third said. "I should just get myself safe and not worry about my belongings."

Firefighters say every family needs to be armed with an escape plan and practice it often..

In case of a fire, get out and stay out. Crawl low, and go. Test doors with the back of your hand. Don't be scared, be prepared.