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Fire Safety Checklist

By now, every parent of a child attending an elementary school in Russell should have seen one of annual fire safety checklists come home. Last week firefighters visited every elementary school classroom in Russell to hand out and explain the program to the students, we also reminded them that if they complete and hand in the form by the end of this week, they will have the chance to win a new bicycle as there will be a draw in each school. Although in our minds the real winners will be the families that take the time to work on the tasks in the checklist, these families will ensure that they are better prepared and protected from the devastation of a house fire. Six simple tasks that range from testing the smoke alarms in the home to preparing and practicing a home escape plan are all that is needed for most people to ensure that they are prepared. It may also raise some issues and concerns with their own living situation that they had not considered before. As we often tell people, itís better to find out that youíre not prepared during a practice rather than the real thing. During our annual door to door campaigns we have found that the families of Russell have taken the smoke alarm laws seriously, we have found a very good level of compliance and people are aware of the laws concerning these devices. Better yet, people have bought into the idea and have taken ownership of this responsibility, even when we do come across non compliant homes the matter is usually a misinterpretation of the law and the issue is dealt with in an amicable and quick manner. The same cannot be said about home escape planning, we are still finding a very low number of homes with a plan in place, and an even lower number of homes who periodically review their plan. Home escape planning is not required by law so making the public buy into this as a responsibility rather than a requirement does take some imagination. Smoke alarms and seat belts had the advantage of potential fines if people were found to be in non compliance of the laws, even the more recent law concerning the use of cell phones while driving used this method of changing public attitudes. However escape planning will never be made law in peoples homes, even though we all accept that schools must perform fire drills, we often donít feel itís necessary in our own homes. We are hoping that the elementary students of Russell can convince you to think about this matter when they bring home their checklists. So if your child asks you to go through the checklist, take a moment before you brush him or her off and look at your child, this is who you should be doing the checklist for. Your child deserves to live in a home that is prepared, your child deserves to have a parent that takes the familyís safety seriously and your child deserves to have a parent that sets the example for the future.


Published in The Villager newspaper - April 21, 2010

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