Thursday, Oct. 11 2012 4:40PM
Get low and go
Fire Prevention Week comes and goes with added emphasis on fire safety
By Toriano Porter
Get low and go was the message and members of the Lee’s Summit Fire Department delivered it.
Fire specialists from the department were at Meadow Lane Elementary School Oct. 10 teaching students the importance of staying low during the event of a fire and trying their hardest to get to safety.
“Why do you think it tells you to ‘get low’?” a Lee’s Summit firefighter asked a group of students gathered inside the school’s library. “Why do you think ‘get low’ is important?
“You’re going to be able to see better down (low) and you’re going to be able to breathe better down (low). That’s why we want you guys to stay low and go. Go means go – get out of the house; get out the best way that you can and go outside to a special meeting place.”
Although the presentation was part of Fire Prevention Week Oct. 7-13, Jim Eden, the LSFD’s assistant fire chief, said fire safety is a year-round theme for the department with school-aged children.
“We’re trying to educate them to live safer,” Eden said of the presentation to students, “and how to deal with emergencies at home. Our emphasis is on fire safety year-round and not just during Fire Prevention Week.”
Jason Harmon and Ray Hinton, both firefighters and fire specialists with the LSFD, were guest speakers at Meadow Lane. The two walked through a PowerPoint presentation with students to give them tips about fire safety, and Hinton even donned a firefighter suit so that students could feel more comfortable if they ever encountered a fully-geared firefighter in real life.
“We don’t want you guys to be scared of us,” Harmon told the group. “We’re there to help save you.”
The LSFD teamed up with the National Fire Protection Association during Fire Prevention Week to spread the word of having two ways out during a fire. The theme focused on the importance of fire escape planning and practice.
According to Keith Martin, chief of the LSFD, a structure fire was reported every 85 seconds throughout the country in 2010. Statistics showed U.S. fire departments responded to 369,500 structure fires that year, and the fires caused 13,350 civilian injuries, 2,640 civilian deaths and $6.9 billion in direct damage.
In Lee’s Summit 141 structure fires were reported in 2011 and 102 have been reported so far in 2012.
“Most people don’t realize that they have only seconds to get out of their house before smoke and heat can block their escape,” Martin said in a statement. “Having working smoke alarms and an escape plan with two ways out, and practicing that plan, is essential to ensuring your family’s safety should fire break out in your home.”
Added Eden: “We try to emphasize (to students) the importance of having fire alarms in the home and knowing what they sound like and knowing what to do. That kind of goes with our Prevention Week theme with the emphasis on ‘two ways out.’
“Know how to get all the doors and windows in your home open. Know how to get the locks undone; and make them accessible from down (low), so if there is heat and smoke in the home, you don’t have to stand up to do something. You can do something from down on the floor.”