Once upon a time in the 1980’s, there was a show called The Hogan Family… Sandy Duncan & Jason Bateman, it was awesome, I swear! One week, they had a “very special episode”. That’s what the networks would label a more serious episode of a family sitcom. In the “very special episode” The Hogan Family house had a fire. Sure, other sitcoms had house fires: Webster, The Walton’s, etc., but this one stuck, in my six-year-old head, driving me to know what our plan was? (Great work networks - we see what you did there). So we had the discussion… what to do if there was a fire, where would we meet, where we would live and how to stop, drop & roll.
We all know the rules - monthly fire drills and documentation - but are there other things we can do to "Be Prepared"? (Sing it like The Lion King!)
- Practice different routes. We don’t know where a fire may occur so practicing different ways to leave the building helps everyone be familiar with the routes and less worried if you really did need to go a different way.
- Have drills at different times of day. Again, we don’t know when a fire may occur so having fire drills at different times during the day helps. Now, I have to say something you’re not going to like, but even trying a drill during nap time is a good thing.
- Invite a firefighter to visit your program. This is a great way to bring the community to your program; the children love it and can learn a lot. It also allows them to see a firefighter outside of an emergency and what the equipment looks like which may help the children be less scared in an emergency.
- Check your exits. I know it seems like a no brainer but making sure your exits are clear on both sides of the door is so important. Did something get set against a door that now won’t allow the door to open or be accessible? Did Mother Nature leave 12 inches of snow and now an exit is blocked? Did the concrete buckle in the elements and now the door can’t be opened? Check your exits regularly!
- Examine your fire extinguishers. Do you have the required size and number for your program? Be sure to check the gauge on your extinguishers. You should know if it is refillable or not or if your program has your fire extinguishers serviced.
- Have a plan for non-mobile children. Having a plan for these children is important and part of required emergency preparedness planning. For non-mobile infants, programs may have an evacuation crib or designated staff that will carry infants out. It’s also important to think about any children with special needs or mobility issues.
With Fire Prevention week October 7-13, I’ll leave you with words from the National Fire Protection Association:
Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.