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Creative ways to get kids involved in fire safety

Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 4:17 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - This year, Chesterfield Fire has seen a 41% increase in fires - 65 house fires compared to last year.

The fires have impacted a lot of families in the area and raised enough concern that firefighters are getting creative to help families stay safe.

Many of the homes were a total loss. Thankfully, none have resulted in a loss of life.

The fire department has scheduled book readings, scavenger hunts, and even pizza deliveries to get local families thinking about fire safety. All fun and games, but with a serious message to prepare your family in case you ever face a fire, so your reaction is quick and efficient.

″If at 2:30 in the morning, you wake up, and your house is full of smoke, and you see fire on one of your floors…first floor, second floor, and you have a plan ready to go, we’re going to use this window, we’re going to use this door,” pointed out Lt. Kenny Mitchell with Chesterfield Fire. “You’re going to go into this action…I think it prepares you mentally and physically.”

Firefighters say to make sure you have two exit plans, and that everyone knows where the doors and windows are, and make sure to review that regularly.

“Will you be 100% fearless? No,” said Mithcell. “But at least you’ll be ready, and your family has an idea. Everyone in your family – your children, your grandparents, whoever you may live with - has an idea of what to do if that was to occur.”

For younger children, Mitchell says to keep it simple. If the alarm is sounding, teach kids to check the door. If they see smoke or fire, shut the door and teach them to get to the windows.

Older children can have a plan to get out of the house alone - that’s what Mitchell does at his house.

“If we have smoke throughout the home, I can’t come for her,” said Mitchell. “We’ve equipped her with the knowledgeability and skills to open her window and to go out by herself. So, my mindset is at 2 in the morning; she’s going to be fine. She’s going to go in her direction because she has her plan; I’m going to go mine.”

He says to sleep with doors shut- if a fire starts, it can block smoke and fire.

Make sure you remake that fire plan whenever you move or move rooms or furniture. Pick a meeting place, but not just the front yard. A neighbor’s house may be safer for kids.

Ensure everyone in the home knows how to answer who was home at the time of the fire and test your smoke alarm.

Check out your local Chesterfield library if you could still use some help talking to your kids about fire safety. Workers are putting together some helpful displays to get the conversation started, and if you want to read more, here’s the official release from the Chesterfield fire.

Chesterfield Fire and EMS are urging families to safeguard life, property during April’s Fire Prevention and Safety initiative

“No one ever expects their home to be vulnerable to a fire threat,” said Chesterfield Fire and EMS Chief Loy Senter. “It’s imperative that all families mitigate fire hazards inside and outside, have working smoke alarms, and develop a fire escape plan for their residence. Practice that escape plan and have a safe meeting place once outside.”

Several Chesterfield County Public Library branches also will be making book displays about fire safety and prevention for families to check out and read with their children at home.

“We want this to be an initiative that the community takes seriously,” Luciano said. “It’s truly going to take all of us to recognize and address the dangers of residential fires in Chesterfield.”

For more information, click here.

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