I remember receiving a phone call from a Chester mother whose son could not sleep after a fire had occurred in their neighborhood. He had seen the smoke coming from the house, watched firefighters arrive, and saw them work until the fire was out. The problem was that he was afraid that the same thing was going to happen at his house. We visited his home on the fire engine, let him help us with a fire safety inspection of his home, tested their smoke alarms, deployed their rescue ladder and allowed them to climb on it from the ground, and then practiced a home escape drill. I called his mom the next day that I came on duty to see if anything had changed. She told me that he had slept through the night every since our visit. This fire took place four or five houses down from his, but still had a serious affect on this young boy. Never think that things that happen in their neighborhoods do not affect your children.
What effect does a fire in your neighborhood have on you? What changes when a person dies in the fire? To some, it might not faze them. Others may wonder what happened, only to the point of being curious. A few may be genuinely concerned about what happened, and want to do learn everything possible to prevent this from occurring in their home. So, let’s have a dinnertime conversation around your dinner table. “Do you remember the fire that occurred a few days ago down the street? I have learned that the fire was caused by food left on the stove. I have also learned that unattended cooking causes more homes to catch fire than any other cause. We need to be careful while cooking. If a fire occurs in a pan on the stove, do not move the pan, but place a cookie sheet or large lid on the pan. We will check our smoke alarms before we go to bed tonight. More importantly than trying to put a fire out, does everyone know how to get out of the house, and go to our special meeting place? Tommy, you remember that you are supposed to help your little brother to get out. The last thing that I want to say tonight on this subject is that once you get out; do not go back in our house for anything. This conversation could literally save your family’s life.”
The pseudo-conversation that just occurred would have been a reactive response to an event that occurred in your neighborhood. So, what does a proactive response look like? No fire in your neighborhood prompting it, just a realization that the possibility and probability of a fire could visit any one of us. Why not let your children help you do a home fire safety inspection?
Why not have dinnertime conversations on any number of fire safety subjects? Test your smoke alarms regularly. The bottom line is that fires occur, but most can be prevented. If a fire does occur, you would feel much better knowing that each member of your family knows what to do if the smoke alarms are activating. We have had two fire-deaths in our immediate area recently. Let’s do everything possible to keep that number from rising.