Students at Camden Street School in Newark learned how they can be better prepared for and take steps to prevent home fires during an American Red Cross fire safety presentation on Friday, January 8.
“Some of the dangers we face in our lives, we don’t see them coming,” said Sam Garrison, principal, Camden Street School while speaking with the students. “This is a time of year when there are a lot of fires. I would rather you be prepared.”
“In a typical year, home fires kill more people than all other natural disasters combined in the United States,” said Eileen Painter, volunteer manager, American Red Cross New Jersey Region. “It is important that children are empowered with the fire safety information they need to help keep them safe and calm should they experience a home fire.”
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Painter spoke with students about the various types of cooking appliances they may find in their homes and what precautions they can take to minimize the risk of a home fire.
Painter showed students different types of smoke alarms, explained how they work and encouraged students to have their families test the smoke alarms in their home once a month.
“If the smoke alarm in your home goes off, does it notify the Newark Fire Department,” Painter asked the auditorium of sixth, seventh and eighth grade students.
“No,” they responded.
Painter talked to students about the importance of calling 911 immediately after they get safely outside when a fire breaks out and what information they should be prepared to provide the 911 dispatcher.
Classmates 12-year-old Terrell and 11-year-old Tariq role-played making a 911 call to report a home fire.
“This is the 911 operator, what is your emergency,” asked Terrell.
“There’s a fire,” said Tariq.
Terrell asked Tariq for his named, address and if anyone was hurt.
“Do not hang up, help is on the way,” Terrell said. “I will stay on the line with you until help arrives.”
Fire experts agree that when a fire breaks out, families have as little as two minutes to escape from their burning home. Regularly practiced fire escape plans ensure all members of the household know what to do should a fire occur.
Terrell demonstrated how he would escape his home in the event of a fire. He rolled off a cot onto the floor and crawled as he would during a fire to avoid smoke. Terrell then used the back of his hand to feel the door to determine if it was safe to open and practiced using a blanket to block the gap under the door to prevent smoke from entering the room.
In celebration of Martin Luther King Day, Camden Street School will be holding an MLK Day of Service and is partnering with the Red Cross and Hope Worldwide promote fire safety. Volunteers will be going door-to-door in Newark neighborhoods as part of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign to install free smoke alarms in homes that need them and educating families about fire safety.
“On Martin Luther King Day we’re going to be installing smoke alarms in home after home after home,” said Garrison. “I know this partnership will help saves lives.”
Since the launch of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign in October 2014, the Red Cross and its local partners have installed more than 8,000 free smoke alarms across New Jersey and helped more than 4,000 families create a family fire escape plan.
To learn more about fire safety and access free tools and resources, visit redcross.org/firesafety.