FIRE! Kids Do You Know What To Do In A Fire?

The recent fire in Brooklyn claimed the lives of 7 kids ages 5 to 16. Sparked by a hot plate on the kitchen counter, the reports are that the kids were trapped by the flames. Now, I've never been in a house fire, but I was only 13 when a neighbor 7 year old boy set his garage ablaze with him inside. 

There were no adults around, and I was caring for my younger siblings.  My sister called the operator (there was no 9-1-1 in those days) and told her that we needed help. I remember hearing his screams as I tried to fight the fire with a garden hose with my own little brothers watching in horror. 

When my children were young, we made sure they knew what to do in case of a fire. We had a plan. But given that seven people die in home fires every single day according to the National Fire Protection Association, I thought it was time to ask: 

Kids, do you know what to do in a fire?

  1. Know how to get out. You need to have at least two exits to the outside. When our kids were home, they slept upstairs. One exit was down the stairs. This was great unless the fire was in the kitchen. So, for us the next exit was through the window. We didn't have access to a ladder at that time, but their dad made a rope ladder which we kept in a trunk under the window sill. He also embedded a hook into the wall stud. The kids were taught how to hook the ladder and drop it out the window. Today, there are numerous escape ladders available that can be placed by a window to use in case of a fire. For the basement, he attached a ladder to the wall that led up and out the window. Each window provided a different escape route. Look around your house. Imagine how you would get out if the fire was in the living room, the   kitchen, the basement, or the bedroom. Then talk to your parents about making them a safe escape in case of fire.
  2. Get out safely. If you are awaken by the smoke alarm, check your door before opening it. Is there smoke coming into the room under or around the door? If there is DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR, and use a different exit to get out. If not, then feel the wood portion of the door. Is it warm or hot to the touch or  is it cool? If it's warm or hot, DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR, and use a different exit to get out. If the door is cool, gently touch the door handle with your finger to see if it is hot. If it is hot, DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR, and use a different exit to get out.
  3. Hold family fire drills. I cannot overstate this. Parents sometimes assume that kids know what to do in case of a fire. Ask your parents about what they plan to do in case of a fire. Then insist you make a family plan.
May you never be in a house fire, but if you are, your safety depends on a quick reaction. Be safe. Plan ahead. Know what to do in a fire! You are our future and we want you to be safe.

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