I’m no stranger to emergency preparedness. As a City employee charged with responding during disasters, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) graduate, ARC supporter, and with a family of firefighters, I’m well aware that community and personal disasters can strike at any time. My husband and I have discussed our emergency plan and we know where we would go and what we would do.
Recently, however, I was talking about fire safety with one of the Fire Stoppers Preparedness Specialists when I had a simple, yet salient “Ah-ha” moment: I know what to do in case of a fire, but does my three-year-old?
That following weekend I pulled out the Fire Stoppers coloring book with my daughter. We colored our way through the book, talking about what to do in a fire. Then it was time for some hands on practice.
After an explanation of Stop, Drop, and Roll, we took turns exclaiming “Your clothes are on fire!” dropping to the ground, and rolling out the fire. We were quickly joined also by her crawling baby brother and the dog, invoking giggles all around.
Next, we talked about evacuating. I showed Skylar the smoke detector, explaining that it will beep when there is smoke or fire in the air and that when she hears that, she needs to crawl to the nearest exit (or as she says the “secret exit”), always feeling the door before opening it in case there is fire on the other side. We picked a designated safe spot in both the back yard and the front yard and talked about who would meet her there in an emergency.
My step-mom, a long time volunteer firefighter, noted that many times kids are scared of firefighter in their full gear, so soon we will be planning a trip to the local fire station for that experience. For now, I’ve shown her pictures from the internet of what a firefighter looks like in their full gear so that she knows that they are there to help.
It turns out, fire safety and preparations with a 3 year old was much easier than I had thought it would be. And my daughter’s new favorite activity? Playing ‘fire drill,’ of course!
-Shannon M. Simonelli
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