A working smoke alarm can be a lifesaver in the home. That is the message being spread this month by the Asheville Fire Department through educational events and visits to area schools.
“We have seen many families who have safely escaped danger because their smoke alarms alerted them about a fire” says Kelley Webb, AFD Fire and Life Safety Educator.
October is National Fire Prevention Month, and fire departments nationwide are conducting fire safety programs in their communities. The theme this year is “Smoke Alarms: a sound you can live with.”
The Asheville Fire Department kicked off the month with an October 2 educational event and fair at Wal-Mart on Bleachery Boulevard that encouraged people to purchase and install smoke alarms. The department is also making visits to several Asheville City and Buncombe County elementary schools within the City of Asheville to talk to children there about fire safety.
During the school programs, students are invited to learn about fire trucks and firefighting equipment and to pose questions to Asheville’s firefighters. But the main educational component is the department’s educational fire safety trailer which firefighters use to teach fire safety in the home.
The trailer has scaled-down versions of a kitchen and fireplace, both areas where children need to be aware of potential fire hazards. The elementary school students also participate in a mock fire drill from an upstairs bedroom, complete with a home smoke alarm and a smoke machine.
“We want them to be familiar with the sound of smoke alarms and to know what to do if an alarm goes off,” Webb says.
The safest way to get down the stairs, the students learn, is to slide or crawl feet first to avoid falling and to stay underneath any smoke. On the first floor, children should crawl to the door leading outside and go to a meeting place determined ahead of time by their family. Parents and their children can plan together to determine an evacuation route and an outdoor meeting spot.
Families should practice fire drills in their homes a couple of times a year, Webb says, as well as test smoke alarm batteries once a month and change their batteries twice per year.
Parents and students can find more information on fire safety at the links below:
National Fire Protection Association (www.nfpa.org)
U.S. Fire Administration (www.usfa.dhs.gov)