By Tom Kiurski
If your home calendar looks anything like ours did when our children were younger, there were activities going on almost every day that required us getting our children somewhere. Sometimes we stayed, sometimes we didn't, sometimes there was homework or a special project, but a big part of our life was devoted to our children.
While the sports and studies are great things to be involved in, we also need to give our children extra attention when it comes to fire safety awareness.
A report recently released by the United States Fire Administration has some alarming news: 53 percent of children dying in fires from 2004-07 were younger than 5. This represents a 2-percent increase from previous studies. The report cited that a big contributing factor to children younger than 5 having a higher risk as compared to the general population was their inability to escape from a fire by themselves. This is why it's important for parents of young children to ensure that part of their home escape plan includes assisting children in escaping from a fire.
Even though they are sleeping in a room with a window nearby doesn't mean that they have the strength and dexterity to open it, take out the screen and escape out of the window. You have to show your children what to do and be absolutely certain in your mind that they will do the right thing if necessary. If not, then an adult in the home should be assigned to get them out if at all possible. If you can't make it due to heat and/or smoke, then go outside, check the family meeting place and head to the window from the outside and see if you can get to them while someone is calling the firefighters — don't be afraid to scream for help in an emergency.
Youngsters may not sense danger in the same way as adults. They have a limited ability to react quickly and properly in an emergency situation, and they have little control over their environment. This can increase their risk of death and injury in a fire situation.
Tell your children not to be afraid of firefighters if they come to get them during a fire emergency. When children are scared they often hide, and a firefighter crawling with their full protective gear on can be considered scary unless taught otherwise. There are plenty of images on your computer of firefighters in full gear, or feel free to stop by any of your Livonia fire stations.
Teach your children to get down low and crawl when in a building that has high heat levels and/or smoke in it. The coolest, cleanest air is down low so crawling to an exit makes good sense. Firefighters in full protective gear crawl to stay in lower heat levels where visibility may be better.
Children should also be taught what a smoke alarm sounds like when it is signaling an emergency.
None of the items mentioned in this article take long to accomplish, and they can even be a fun family event that can be practiced together.
Tom Kiurski is training coordinator for the Livonia Fire Department.