Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fire Safety for Kids: 21 Fire Prevention Experts Share Their Top Tips to Keep Kids and Families Safe from Home Fires

Our very own VP Bill Driscoll was one of the 21 panelists chosen for a discussion on safety tips for kids:

There are many things in the world today that parents work hard to protect our children from. Fortunately for many of us, our home is a place that provides a safe haven, shielding our children from many dangers. But as many parents and homeowners know, there can be real dangers within the home as well: one of the most dangerous of them all is a home fire.

According to a recent report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 366,600 home structure fires each year between 2007-2011. Tragically, these fires caused an estimated average of 2,570 deaths and 13,210 injuries to civilians of all ages.

Since we here at Safe Sound Family pride ourselves on providing valuable home safety information for families, we wanted to learn more about the important topic of home fire safety. We specifically wanted to find some expert tips from parents and fire safety experts on what to do to ensure your child is safe in the case of a home fire. To do this, we asked 21 parents and fire safety experts to answer this question:

What’s the #1 most important tip you can share to keep kids safe from home fires?”
We’ve collected and compiled their expert advice into this comprehensive guide on home fire safety. See what our experts said below:

Meet Our Panel of Home Fire Safety Experts:

  • Brent Faulkner
  • Keli Wilson
  • George Baker
  • Suzanne Garber
  • Jody Lamb
  • Bill Driscoll
  • David Barckhoff
  • Tamara Habib
  • Lance Luke
  • Juanita Allen Kingsley
  • Larry Wilder
  • Graciela TiscareƱo-Sato
  • Jess Hand
  • Marshall Marinace
  • Samantha Boles
  • Justina Page
  • Mike Pinto
  • Maria Vizzi
  • Preet Anand
  • Judie Protesto Freels
  • Candace Scheets

Brent FaulknerBrent Faulkner

Fire Captain Brent Faulkner has 17 years experience in the fire service. During this time he has responded to numerous emergency situations including structure fires, wildland fires, hazardous materials responses, emergency medical situations, and numerous types of rescues. He has served on a Type 1 Hazardous Materials Response Team for over 10 years and is an expert in Critical Infrastructure Protection as it relates to terrorism, general security, and natural disasters. He also specializes in Emergency Preparedness for Homeowners and Businesses. He has a Masters Degree in Management, a Bachelors Degree in Occupational Studies and an Associates Degree in Hazardous Materials Response and another in Fire Science and is a Managing Partner in MBIntel, LLC, a website dedicated to providing high quality, customized information regarding home safety, security, and emergency preparedness.
The #1 most important tip I can share to keep children safe from home fires is…
Do not rely on the fire training they receive at school for your home.
Children receive excellent training at school regarding fire safety. However, this training does not necessarily mean children are able to evacuate their own homes during a fire. Most school settings are very different from the home. There are no lines painted on the ground or maps posted on the walls telling them where to go. A fire at school would be during the day, and the children are usually in groups, but at home it could be dark and the child might need to evacuate alone. It is therefore very important that families have their own fire training sessions, focused on their home.
A gradual approach to training your children is best. The first step is to plan two ways out of every room in the house. Physically walk the house as a family identifying these two exits. Then practice using these escape routes in a fun, non-threatening environment.
Once everyone knows how to get outside, a family meeting place should be identified. A tree, neighbor’s house or a mailbox are good choices. Identify a single spot where you will all meet. This is important to quickly account for all members of your home.
The smoke detectors in your home sound very different to the fire alarms at school. Let your children hear it a few times, and then practice going to the family meeting place. Once they have done this a few times, tell them you might sound it any time and they are to evacuate just like they would in a real fire. Depending on their ages, you may need to practice quite frequently. Having a practiced home fire plan is the most important thing you can do for your children regarding fire safety.

Keli WilsonKeli Wilson

Keli Wilson is the Founder and Director of Communications for AlertID, a social network that makes public safety information universally accessible via smartphone and email. She founded the company after being separated from her three children at an amusement park in 2009 for nearly an hour, at which point she realized there had to be a better resource for parents to keep their children safe. She has a dual bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine and biology from the University of Nevada, and has received numerous awards from law enforcement, including the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, an international education program that helps children stay off drugs.
I can think of lots of tips to help keep kids safe from home fires, but my most important tip is to…
Take all measures to eliminate the risk of a fire starting in your home.
The first step is to install and test smoke alarms on each level of your residence. This simple step can reduce your chance of dying from a fire by half. The next step is to review and practice escape routes with your family – you might not be able to get to your child in the event of a home fire, and it’s imperative that they know how to escape on their own.
Next, make sure matches and lighters are stored up high and away from children, preferably in a locked cabinet.
Finally, make sure your electrical wiring is checked by an electrician to ensure your home is at the lowest risk possible for a fire.

George BakerGeorge Baker

George Baker has recently retired from 32 years of service as a firefighter, paramedic and officer for the town of Mashpee Massachusetts, his last twenty years he served as Fire Chief. Chief Baker is passionate about fire prevention and has represented the Fire Chiefs of Massachusetts and the International Association of Fire Chiefs on numerous fire safety codes and standards committees. Passionate about the welfare of children, Chief Baker was a founding Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Cape Cod and active with local Scout Troops. Chief Baker now serves as a coach, mentor and consultant on leadership and disaster Management. Learn more about Chief Baker’s work at www.fireandicecoaching.net.
If I was a genie and could grant one wish for a fire safety practice or device to protect kids it would be…
Living in a home (single or multi family) protected with a fire sprinkler system.
The NFPA (national fire prevention association) has done significant research and the majority of persons whom perish in a residential fire are very young or very old.
Smoke detectors are the first line of defense for most people but the very young (infants and toddlers) do not have the motor skills or the intelligence levels to escape on their own. Depending on the location and the intensity of the fire a quick rescue by the parents or caregivers may not be possible.
A residential fire sprinkler would extinguish the fire prior to lethal levels of heat and or deadly gasses from the smoke. Most fire deaths occur in the first three minutes of a fire. The best fire departments response times are three plus minutes after the fire has been discovered.
Parents should consider fire sprinklers when constructing or purchasing a new home.

Suzanne GarberSuzanne Garber

Suzanne Garber Chief Networking Officer at International SOS and a Board Member of the American Red Cross. She is also part of a Disaster Action Team for the American Red Cross, whereby every Friday night, she accompanies Philadelphia fire fighters to counsel and console victims of house fires who have been displaced with no where to go. In cases where a fatality has occurred, she along with a team of volunteers scours the surrounding neighborhood with new fire alarms and batteries.
It is estimated that while over 80% of homes in Philadelphia, where I am based, have fire alarms in them, in looking at the demographics of the zip code areas where the most fires (and fatal fires) occur, over 70% of those homes either do not have a fire alarm or the batteries have expired thus making the alarm non-functioning. So, my advice to parents is to…
Test their fire alarms and instruct their children to, in the case of a fire, get out of the house immediately whereby they can go to a neighbor’s home to call 911. Many times I have met children who have saved the lives of their siblings and elderly grandparents because they did exactly that.

Bill DriscollBill Driscoll

Bill Driscoll is a leader in the fire protection industry. He is an accomplished speaker in a group setting and has been a guest speaker for over 1000 groups, including fire departments, civic groups, churches, schools and businesses. Bill has written numerous articles and created several videos on the subject of fire safety and continues to provide home fire safety training for countless numbers of people and organizations. In addition, Bill is a U.S. Department for Homeland Security National Fire Academy Certified “Community Safety Educator”, an Administrator of fire safety and fire code certification, and has been a member of the Educational Section of the National Fire Protection Association since 1986. He is currently the VP of Dealer Development at DeTech Firesense Technologies.
The most important tip for children surviving fire is…
Planned and practiced fire drills.
Operation E.D.I.T.H – Exit Drills In The Home:
  • Draw an outline of your home.
  • Now add the rooms and label them. Show important details: stairs, hallways, roofs that can be used as fire escapes.
  • Choose a family meeting place and show it on the map.
  • Check each room for the best way to escape.
  • Test windows and doors.
  • Be sure that everyone has at least two ways out.
  • Escape ladders may be necessary.
  • Any security devices should open easily.
  • Always sleep with bedroom doors closed.
  • Find a way for everyone to sound a family fire alarm. Yelling, pounding walls, whistles, etc..
  • In a fire it is seconds, not minutes, that count.
  • Roll out of bed but don’t stand straight up because one breath of smoke or heated gases may be enough to kill you. And don’t drop straight to the floor because some deadly gasses are heavier than air and drift down to the floor.
  • Feel all doors before opening them, there may be fire on the other side. Never open a hot door! Ever!
  • Once outside, go immediately to the family meeting place and stay there! Never re-enter a burning structure for any reason.
  • Call the fire department from a neighbor’s house. Tell the dispatcher if everyone is out or not.
  • Begin with everyone in his or her bed.
  • Sound the alarm. Press the smoke detector test button. Yell FIRE! Or use some other signal that your family members will recognize.
  • Everyone should roll out of bed and follow their primary exit path while keeping their heads at doorknob level.
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