By CRISTIN REECE
Anderson County youngsters are getting a hands-on education about fire safety this week, thanks to local firefighters and Sparky the Fire Dog.
Students from Cayuga and Palestine independent school districts visited the Palestine Civic Center Wednesday for Fire Safety Week. Palestine, Montalba and Tennessee Colony fire departments, the Texas Forest Service, Palestine Regional Medical Center’s EMS and the Palestine Police Department all participated.
“We’re trying to help educate kids to help be our eyes and ears inside their homes. If they know what to look for or what to do in the event of a fire, they might be able to prevent a disaster,” Palestine firefighter and event coordinator Lt. Devin Jackson said. “Things like make sure to turn your pan’s handle to the inside so there’s less risk of someone coming by and accidentally snagging it and pulling it off the stove and onto themselves; or don’t hang towels on the oven bar across the front because little brother or sister can grab it and use it as leverage to open an over door, which could lead to burns or even start a fire.”
Jackson said many house fires start or occur in the kitchen and that’s why this year’s theme is Kitchen Safety. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports children under five face a higher risk of non-fire burns associated with cooking than being burned in a cooking fire.
Palestine firefighters, including Sparky the Fire Dog, presented a short presentation covering important tips on how and where house fires are most likely to start (the kitchen); what to do in the event of a fire (get out and stay out) and the importance of forming and routinely practicing a family escape plan; how to prevent fires in the home (don’t play with lighters or matches); what to do if your clothes catch fire (stop, drop, cover and roll); and showed off the department’s Tower 1 ladder truck. Local volunteer firefighters and a representative from the Texas Forest Service also showed off their pumper trucks and other equipment used in fighting fires.
“We cover the same basic information every year, but it’s still information that’s extremely important for people to review every year,” Jackson said. “For example, it’s always good to remind people to change the batteries in their smoke detectors at least twice a year. A good way to remember to do it is do it when the clocks change for Daylight Saving Time.”
NFPA reports 62 percent of reported home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms and working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half.
According to the NFPA’s website, www.nfpa.org, Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago fire in 1871 which killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 people homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres.
“The fire began on October 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on Oct. 9, 1871,” the site states. “Since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls.”