Clark County fire prevention week teaches key safety measures

Fire Prevention Week was last week, but it’s never really over. Fire Prevention has to be in our minds 52 weeks a year.

Local departments including New Carlisle, Enon/Mad River and Bethel Twp. spent last week visiting elementary schools, preschools and day cares to get the word out. And some of the firehouses got visits from groups of students.

We adults may have heard their advice before. You know, things like “Stop, Drop and Roll,” and “Don’t hide.” But for many of the younger students this was very important new information they needed to hear. For the older ones it was a great refresher and reminder of what to do. There is always some detail they might have forgotten.

The departments find fun ways to help the kids remember the safety rules and the little ones love seeing the polished red trucks up close.

>>RELATED: Springfield firefighters to promote safety in schools this week

“We let the kids see us in turn out gear so they aren’t afraid,” said the Enon Fire Department Capt. Kenny Bostick.

According to Bostick, they used to compare a firefighter in turnout gear, including mask and breathing apparatus, to Darth Vader but many of this newer generation doesn’t know who Darth Vader is.

“I guess I need to watch more cartoons,” he said and laughed. Keeping the whole educational experience friendly and cheerful is important.

A firefighter in turn out gear and the loud breathing can be scary to a child — hey, it would impress me — and children have been known to run from the person who has come to rescue them. Letting kids see a normal mom or dad putting on the gear helps them see that there is goodness inside of the scary image and they are there to help.

Now that the official Fire Prevention Week is over, it’s time for the parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers and caregivers to reinforce the education that was started.

Many of the students came home with a bunch of literature and coloring books last week, and a parent needs to go over the material with them. Post those works of art on the refrigerator!

Do you have a family plan in case of a fire? Firefighters told the children to work out a plan with their parents on how to get out of the house and where to meet outside if there is a fire.

Bostick suggests families meet near a landmark easily located that’s out of the way of emergency vehicles that will be arriving. A neighbors’ porch, a big tree, a distant swing set, a play house are all suggestions, but every yard is different.

Where will you meet up with your family in an emergency?

Parents and children need to know where to meet, and don’t forget to tell the babysitters and grandparents, too. Kids also need to be reminded to move quickly and not delay by leaving to get toys or pets. Others will take care of that.

It is also important for all of us as parents or as a couple or living alone to do our part maintaining our smoke detectors. It’s nice if your children or grandchildren see you taking this job seriously.

After all there is always something to learn. I didn’t know that smoke detectors needed to be replaced every 10 years. I’ve just been changing the batteries twice a year and going my happy way. New Carlisle Fire Administrator Steve Trusty suggests replacement every eight to 10 years.

Why change them? The wiring wears out, corrosion can set in or dust can accumulate on the sensors over the years.

The Bethel Township Fire Department Clark County Facebook page has a cute video by Sparky the Fire Dog on how to determine the age of your smoke detector. (Kids will enjoy this, too.) All should have them labeled somewhere on the device, you just have to look. If your smoke detector was made before 2007, it’s time to replace it.

To make that simpler, some of the local departments have replacement smoke detectors to give away for free. As I write this, some are still available at New Carlisle and Enon. If a new smoke detector will hurt your budget, please check to see if firefighters can help.

And of course we all know that the end of Daylight Savings Time is coming up in less than three weeks. In addition to a wonderful extra hour of sleep, that means it is time to replace the batteries.

What happens if you don’t? Well, first of all you might not be warned if there is a fire. Or you could have the aggravating chirp of a worn out battery in the smoke alarm waking you at 3 a.m. and every 30 seconds after that.

Don’t put it off. Just get that battery, or old smoke detector, replaced, and hibernate uninterrupted this winter. Sweet dreams.

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