by ADAM GRUENEWALD
Central Elementary students learned a bit about preventing fires and what to do in case of a fire on Friday.
As part of National Fire Prevention Week, Norwood Young America firefighters gave students a tour of the department’s smoke trailer while others talked about and answered students questions with regards to fire safety.
At the smoke trailer, firefighters Paul Lano and Andy Teubert shared potential dangers with students in Jake Schrupp’s fourth-grade class.
The focus of national efforts is on kitchen fires and rightfully so as they are the number one source for house fires, Lano said.
Between 2007 and 2011, U.S. Fire Department responded to an estimated annual average of 156,600 cooking-related fires resulting in 400 civilian deaths, 5,080 injuries and $853 million in direct damage.
Guiding students through the makeshift smoke trailer, Lano explained that most of those fire start on the stove.
Among the recommendations were placing utensils on the back burners, avoiding loose clothing, making sure items aren’t left unattended and being aware of potential grease fires.
“Probably the number one thing that starts on stoves is grease fires,” said Lano. “A lot of foods we cook have grease. Grease fires can be really ugly, they get really big fast.”
Rather than putting water on a grease fire, the best thing to do is smoother it or use a wet towel, he said.
Of course, kids were encouraged to call 9-1-1 and get outside and go to their meeting place, rather than fight a major fire.
Lano also reminded kids to know where fire extinguishers are and also to remind their parents about smoke detectors and that daylight savings time is a great time to change batteries.
“Now is a good time to remind moms and dads that they are battery operated and now is a good time to change the battery,” said Lano. “Twice a year you should be thinking about that.”
Lano also shared safety tips in the living room and the bedroom and told kids to wear their seatbelts.
While it may seem simple, Lano said the safety tips will help to limit the amount of incidents. NYA firefighters responded to 231 calls last year.
“Nobody ever plans on getting in an accident today,” he said. “So you always have to be careful.”
Those messages were reinforced inside where firefighters like Patrick Stacken and Melissa Pasquarette reviewed safety information, demonstrated turnout gear and answered students questions.
Again, the kitchen was the main focus and safety tips were reviewed, even as simple as having a fire extinguisher on hand.
“I encourage you to talk to your parents to make sure you have them in your kitchen,” he said. “We want to check them every year to make sure they’re still good.”
The most important thing for kids though was making sure they don’t cook alone.
“I know you guys are getting older, you guys are fourth-graders,” said Stacken. “You guys are still going to want mom and dad around when you’re cooking in the kitchen in case something happens.”
It was during the question–and–answer session in Gail Lawler’s fourth-grade room when students expressed some concerns about the event of a fire and getting out.
Stacken encouraged them to get outside, go to a pre-designated meeting place and call 911. In the event they couldn’t get out, he recommended using a blanket under the door to keep out smoke.
“We will come and find you,” he said. “Once you’re out, you should never go back in.”
Pasquarette said the annual fire prevention effort in the schools is a key for community efforts and students are sure to share the information with their parents.
“It just gives us an opportunity to meet the kids and teach them that we’re not scary and we’re coming in to help them,” she said.
Kids will have additional chances later this month to get questions answered and meet with firefighters as all the area fire stations, including Hamburg, Cologne and NYA, will have trick or treating on Halloween.
For more information about Fire Prevention Week or fire safety, visit www.nfpa.org.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at firstname.lastname@example.org.