MT. VERNON —
The first week of October is busy for fire fighters in Mt. Vernon as they visit the city and country schools to teach children about fire safety. On Thursday, the children at the Summersville Grade School learned how to stop, drop and roll.
Mt. Vernon Fire Department Lt. Donny Hayes has been doing public educational programs with children for the past 20 years, ever since he joined the fire department. He meets with young children from kindergarten to those in middle school to teach them what they need to do in the case of a fire.
“We just want them to recognize an emergency and [how] to react to it,” Hayes said. “We want them to react to anything that has fire and heat and treat it appropriately.”
Hayes teaches the children the fundamentals of fire safety, such as how to stop, drop and roll or how to check to see if there is a fire on the other side of a door, or how to make it through a room filled with smoke.
He also teaches the children how to call for help, what to do when they hear the smoke detector beeping and what questions they need to ask their parents to prepare for a fire, should the situation arise.
“I like helping people. I like coming and talking to [the children],” Hayes said. “It’s fun.”
The fire safety and prevention instruction is both in the classroom and out side the classroom. While Hayes spends his time in the classroom teaching the children the fundamentals, his colleagues are out side with a fire engine with practical examples.
Bradon Mueller, a fire fighter and paramedic, donned his fire suit as part of his demonstration.
“I dress up so the kids know what a fire fighter looks like. So they know we sound funny and we look funny,” said Mueller, explaining that children may be frightened if a fire occurs and the fire fighters don’t want them to hide. “We try to hammer home the principals each year.”
The fire safety education is different depending on what age the children are. Both Hayes and Mueller try to hone their teachings to the children’s age level so that the children can grasp the concepts easily.
Hayes said what he teaches the children is really not much different from what he teaches adults, although he may add more tips such as how to prevent fires in the first place, etc.
Here is some additional information parents should go over with their children:
- Should a fire occur, parents and children should have a designated meeting place should they be separated;
- Calling 911 should only be done in an emergency for one of three things - fire, police or an ambulance;
- “Always assume that it’s hot until you know that it’s not,” in regards to touching items such a grill or a closed door, or getting close to a fire pit or other items that may retain the heat without the fire;
- If trapped in a room and escape by window is not possible because it is too small, etc., make sure to stand by the window, wave your hands and yell for help; and
- When a smoke detector sounds, get up and get out. Do not attempt to locate the source of whatever is causing the detector to sound a warning.