What can children do in a fire emergency? This isn't your average light conversation topic. When was the last time you spoke about it to anyone, or even given it any thought? We don’t want children to be in a fire emergency in the first place. The plan is that if it happens, their parents will guide them.
Yet, it isn't always up to us and the fact is that children sometimes are first to be affected by a fire emergency. And even if they aren't, they should know what to do ahead of time because, especially in modern homes, there is little time to escape.
In our last article we went over some best practices for home fire safety. One of the most important directives was educating children about fire safety and what to do in an emergency. You might wonder what can a child do in an emergency? At what age are children ready to learn about fire safety - aren't they going to be too afraid to act? Even adults often can’t react correctly in an emergency, so what can be expected of kids?
(Fire Safety) Practice Makes Perfect
Training and practice help develop automatic responses and actions. Driving is a good example. At first we have to think about every action that we take. But as time goes by and we practice, every move becomes an automatic response and we no longer need to think about the actions. We just react.
This is exactly the goal of fire safety training. The following seven brave children are examples of diligent fire safety and awareness.
1 - Cloe Woods
Kenner is the 6th largest city in Louisiana. It is also the home of Cloe Woods, a 5 year old girl who saved her blind grandmother from a house fire. When fire broke out, Cloe found her blind grandmother and guided her to safety. Once they were safe, Cloe asked her neighbours to call 911.
How did she know to do all of that - at the age of 5? It turns out that she learned about fire safety only a few weeks ago at her school. They even went on a school field trip to the Kenner Fire Department. That must have made quite an impression on her - who wouldn’t want to see fire fighters and fire trucks?
“She saved her grandmother’s life and saved her own life.” said Fire Chief John Hellmers
2 - Nathaniel Stocks
Nathaniel Stocks is an ordinary 5 year old from Phelan, California. A few months ago he guided his grandmother to safety and prevented her from going back into a dangerous burning house for their pet chihuahua. You see, a space heater caught on fire and it spread quickly (follow the link for more about home appliances and fire safety). Nathaniel’s actions ensured that he and his grandmother were safe and unharmed. Their quick action allowed firefighters to safely deal with the fire in 15 minutes, and even rescue beloved Tinkerbell (the chihuahua).
He too just finished a fire safety training exercise with his schoolmates at the local fire department. Specifically, they studied the famous “stop, drop, and roll” routine in cases of fire. To read more please follow this link.
3 - Jacob DePooter
Jacob DePooter, a 12 year old boy from Whitby, Ontario received a Fire Safety Action Award from the Office of The Ontario Fire Marshal because he helped stop the spread of a fire at his neighbours home. Unsurprisingly the fire started in the kitchen when the owner left the house while the stove was on. Thankfully, Jacob was passing by while on newspaper route and heard the smoke detector blaring.
Jacob actually explained that he may not have known exactly what to do without the smoke alarm going off. This is another good example of how crucial smoke detectors are - even if you’re not home; hearing it makes people more likely to call 911.
How did Jacob know about fire safety and smoke alarms? He went to a youth fire safety camp where the regional fire department taught children about smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and home escape planning.
4 - Jibril Muhammed Faris
It was your typical hoverboard explosion followed by a boy saving two other kids kind of today. Jibril Muhammed lead his younger friends to safety after an electric hoverboard burst on fire in the living room. The living room was gutted and the house was full of smoke - but no one was seriously hurt! Thinking quickly, Jibril managed to hide both younger children in an upstairs bedroom after smoke blocked their way.
He too remembered what to do from a school talk about fire safety.
I think we can see a pattern here - the more children learn about fire safety the better they can deal with emergencies. It’s a no brainer; more fire safety education equals more safe kids!
5 - Gabby Mushahwar
Gabby participated in an escape drill that taught kids how to roll out of bed, check that the doors are not hot, and low-crawl to avoid smoke inhalation. Her mother wasn’t too impressed at the time. She thought that her daughter was just getting some exercise to get a popsicle.
That theory was tested when a fire broke out at their home. Gabby remembered her escape drill and told everyone else what to do; how to check rooms for safety (hot doors?), and how to avoid breathing in smoke. Needless to say that Gabby wasn’t doing the drill just for the popsicle. Also, Gabby is 5 years old.
6 - Gabbie Serpico
An electric problem in the laundry room tested Gabbie Serpico’s ability to react in emergency situations. She passed with flying colours. More than that, she even saved her brother by noticing smoke before the smoke alarms. Her brother, a heavy sleeper, could have gotten seriously hurt otherwise. The two of them ran outside and called the emergency services.
Gabbie’s actions are commendable; but she shouldn’t have had to wake her brother up. By the time she could smell the smoke several rooms away from the fire, the smoke alarm should have kicked in. This is yet another reason to check your smoke detectors and make sure that they work as they should. If you’re not sure how, see this guide from our previous article about fire safety.
7 - Diana Hernandez
At 6:45 am a faulty lamp sparked and caught fire in the bedroom of Diana’s younger brother, who quickly ran to call her. Her brother Diego wanted to go back and put it out - thankfully Diana knew to stop him. They quickly found their other sibling - a younger sister hiding in the bathroom - and ran outside while covering their mouths.
Diana’s quick thinking had probably saved her younger siblings from a fire that spread throughout their apartment complex. Diana was afraid that her parents would be angry for not checking on her younger siblings and preventing the fire. That of course wasn't the case; Diana’s mom was counting her blessings that her children were all right.
Most of the brave kids on this list acted on their fire training while some simply kept a cool head during an emergency. It’s important to remember that kids aren’t always near adults and will sometimes need to make independent decisions in difficult situations - such as a fire emergency.
Fire education and awareness are crucial for kids and adults alike. Knowing what to do and what to check saves lives. You don’t have to wait for an emergency to act. Make sure that your home is fire safe and that everyone in your family knows the escape plan and what to do in an emergency.