Keeping kids safe during a home fire - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Keeping kids safe during a home fire

BLACK HAWK COUNTY (KWWL)-- Young lives lost.  It's a troubling trend across the country that is serving as a wake up call for all of us.  A new report finds that young people are more likely to be hurt or killed during a fire. 

In the most recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 500 children under the age of 15 lost their lives in home fires in 2007.  That was 13 percent of all fire deaths that year and more than half of the deaths involved children age four and under.  Now, there's a new campaign aiming to reduce those numbers.

Fire officials say they can't stress enough the importance of working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.  But just as important is having a family escape plan and practicing it, so you'll be prepared should the worst happen.

The New Year began in Iowa with a tragic fire in Arlington that claimed the lives of a five and six year old child and their grandfather.  It's something that fire officials never want to happen.  And they say education about fire prevention and escape are important tools to prevent injury and death from smoke and flames.

"Basically, what we try to do is instill the importance of smoke detectors, emergency plan and not leaving children unattended," said Bart Samuelson with the Waterloo Fire Department.

The fire safety house is one tool local fire departments use to help teach kids how to get out of their homes safely during a fire.  Should your home catch fire, experts say the flames will spread much slower if you sleep with the door shut.  And if you live or sleep on the second floor or above.

"We strongly recommend a safety escape ladder," Samuelson said.

While traditional smoke alarms are great to have, their beeping sound might not be enough to wake up a small child.

"They have developed products that are for sale, they're smoke alarms, that will record mom and dad's voice.  And when the smoke alarm is activated, that voice is projected over the speaker.  And it has more of a tendency to wake up a child," said Cedar Falls Fire Chief John Schilling.

And fire officials say it's important to recognize that even still, very young children will need your help escaping from a fire.  So establishing a plan now with your family about how to get out, might just help save your lives should the worst happen.

Officials also say practicing fire prevention, like not leaving candles or food that's cooking unattended, is important.

Many local fire departments will even do home inspections for you, to point out frayed wires or other potential fire hazards that may exist in your home.

In an effort to prevent child fire injuries and death, FEMA, the US Fire Administration, and National Commission on Children and Disasters, are launching a public awareness campaign.  FEMA is pushing a new website, Facebook and Twitter feeds (#kidsfiresafety), dedicated to fire safety, including tips to prevent fires. 

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek


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