I wrote about home fire safety in a post back in September, but a family trip to a neighborhood fire station reminded me of a specific safety topic that needs emphasis – children.
This weekend, the firefighters of Chicago Fire Department Engine 55 welcomed my family and another (including six children aged two to eleven) into their station house for a guided tour. You can imagine the thrill the kids shared as they tried on real firefighter helmets and coats, sat behind the wheel of a massive fire truck, and slid down the bottom section of a life-sized fireman’s pole. For my son Max, who dressed up as a firefighter at age two for Halloween, it was a highlight of his summer!
What I appreciated most, however, was the time the firefighters took to give the children (and us) some important safety tips. One fireman asked the kids if they knew what phone number to call in an emergency and what their home addresses were. He explained that it was very important that they know who to call and how to identify their location in the event of any emergency.
The fireman told the kids that firefighters are very bad at playing hide and seek. If they are ever in trouble, he said not to hide. Instead, they should call out for help and make sure everyone knows where they are.
He also asked the kids to keep their rooms extra clean. If firefighters need to crawl into their bedroom in dark or smoky conditions to rescue them, it would be more difficult if their rooms were full of clutter.
He asked the families if we sleep with our bedroom doors open or closed. He suggested that it is safer to sleep with our doors closed, but noted that there should also be a smoke detector in every bedroom. This is a more serious concern as our kids get older and have potentially hazardous electronics or power strips in their bedrooms.
To learn more about how to live safely, check out the Chicago Fire Department’s comprehensive website. There is a very helpful “Fire and Life Safety” section as well as a “Kids Section” with a two-part downloadable coloring book with safety tips to share with your children (pages 1-8, pages 9-16).
My husband and I now realize the importance of taking some extra time to teach our children what they need to know to be safe. I encourage you to also take advantage of these resources. Hopefully we will never need them, but as the saying goes, “It’s better to be safe than sorry!”
Many thanks to the firefighters at Chicago Fire Department Engine 55 at 2714 N. Halsted for their generous hospitality. You welcomed us in on a Saturday night, you spent quality time with our children, and you reminded us of how fortunate we are to live in this great city!