If you don't have children, you can pass on this article. Come to think of it, if you don't have children or never have children come to visit or don't go places where there are children, then you can pass on this article. Since Livonia is all about families, I hope we didn't lose anyone just yet, as we focus in on one of our most at-risk groups, children.
Our first fact is that half of child fire deaths in the United States affect those under age 5. This is a pretty gripping statistic in that we consider children to be those under 18 years old, but half of the deaths occur in the 0 to 5-year-old group. Those under the age of 5 have a pretty sheltered view of the world, cannot fully grasp the concept of fire in their homes and how to escape, and may lack the physical dexterity to unlock and open a window to use as an escape.
So the first part of the fire escape plan is to have those children under the age of 5 assigned as the responsibility of an older person in the home.
This person has the job of finding the little ones and making sure they exit the building during smoke and fire emergencies.
Most child-playing home fires are started with lighters and matches, and almost half are started in the bedroom. First, make it a rule to keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children. Keep them up high and out of reach. Take them down only to light something, then return it up and out of the way when you are finished.
Bedrooms seem like a pretty dangerous place so this is a room in which you must install a smoke alarm. If young children start a fire in a bedroom, they are very likely to hide under the bed or in the closet. By the time enough smoke builds up to push past a closed door to the smoke alarm in the hallway, the child will most likely be dead. Put smoke alarms in bedrooms. They are inexpensive to purchase, need minimal maintenance and only need an annual battery to keep most of them up and running.
Teach children what a firefighter looks like in his full protective gear, and that they should not be afraid of us. You can find pictures on the internet, or stop by any Livonia fire station for a more personal meeting.
Start teaching children fire safety behaviors while they are young, and continue to practice them. Teach them to “Stop, Drop and Roll” if fire gets on their clothing. Then practice it with them. Keep it positive, and avoid the negative aspects of burns and death. This causes nightmares and takes away from the behavior
Also, teach children to “Crawl Low Under Smoke” in buildings that may have smoke in them. Practice crawling from bedrooms to the front door and several other rooms.
This can be fun and a worthwhile strategy to teach. While at the front door, teach children where your family meeting spot is. The meeting spot is where all members of your family will meet if they have to make an emergency exit due to smoke or flames.
Make it an easy place to see and get to, such as the end of a driveway, large tree in the front yard or a friendly neighbor's front porch.
Take the time to practice the tips that can save the lives of your children. Many of these messages I am sure you remember from when you were young. And while this is serious business, you can have fun practicing fire safety.
Tom Kiurski is training coordinator for the Livonia Fire Department.