Teaching children how to exit a home safely during a fire can save their lives. It is the reason the Lake Country Fire Department travels to each elementary school in Lake Country every spring.
The fire department works with Grade 3 classes to walk children through the process of responding to a fire in a safe and effective way. They also send home some worksheets so the whole family can have a fire safety plan.
“The number one thing that happens when a child thinks there is a fire in the night is they put a pillow over their ears,” said Brent Penner, Lake Country’s assistant fire chief. “When kids are groggy, they tend to not make the decision you expect.”
Warnings and explanations aren’t enough to overcome that response so the fire department brings a special trailer to the school to simulate a house fire experience with the children.
Using theatre smoke and the specially outfitted trailer, children learn how to check for smoke down a hallway, how to seal the airflow under the door and make the right decisions.
Penner said the reaction of the children to this basic simulation ranges from serious to very concerned, but going through the process helps them understand what they need to do if they are ever in an emergency.
The time spent with the kids emphasizes having a simple family evacuation plan, including where to meet up in the event of a fire. Knowing where everyone is in the event of a house fire saves lives said Penner.
“Many fatalities happen when people go back into a house for a rescue. There is no point in risking that, when you can know that everyone is out.”
The sessions include teaching on Stop, Drop and Roll, winter ice safety and other scenarios where a fire department comes to the rescue. The emphasis remains on getting out of a house safely in a fire situation and saving lives.