‘Two ways out’ the focus of fire safety, prevention this year

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Fireman Ben Pintz walks his way through a group of B.A. Kennedy students, always a very popular part of the program.

Kindergartener Westen Wall holds up a number in the ‘911 chant.’

Ms. O’Brien’s 3K students listen intently to a few of the puppets who helped the fire department share its message.

Interim Fire Chief Tim Deluhery Sr. speaks to the young crowd.

By Correne Martin

Fire prevention and safety are important topics for young children to learn and understand. Doing their part to ensure local youth are aware, the Prairie du Chien Fire Department visits Prairie du Chien public and private elementary students every Fire Prevention Week to present a light-hearted yet straightforward program. The hope is that the opportunity can help remind children and their families about smoke alarm battery changing, not playing with matches or lighters, dialing 911, home escape planning and practicing, and other critical, potentially life-saving matters.

The theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 8-14, is “Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out.” According to the National Fire Prevention Association, nearly half of all Americans have not developed a home fire escape plan. Of those that have, one-quarter have never practiced it.

“Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out” works to teach the public what a home escape plan entails, and the value of practicing it with all members of the household. This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign also works to better educate the public about just how quickly home fires can spread, and how little time they may have to escape safely.

“Today’s home fires spread more rapidly than they used to,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA vice president for outreach and advocacy. “The synthetic fibers used in modern home furnishings, along with the fact that newer homes tend to be built with more open spaces and unprotected lightweight construction, all contribute to an increased rate at which fire burns. These factors make home escape planning and practice all the more critical.” Experts say you could have less than two minutes to escape a home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds.

A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom and near all sleeping areas. It also includes two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home. Home escape plans should be practiced twice a year by all members of the household.

Students at B.A. Kennedy, Bluff View, Prairie Catholic and Prairie Christian Academy typically participate in this important education by learning about safety measures in the classroom and then listening to more key points from the Prairie du Chien firefighters. Students take home a related assignment, which, this year, included a question-and-answer sheet about fire prevention and safety. The kids are asked to go over it with their parents and then bring it back to school signed. For those who do so, their name is put into a drawing for one boy’s and one girl’s bike per school. The bikes are brand new and donated by Walmart, which has sponsored these prizes for many years in Prairie du Chien.

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