Maxwell brings Fire Prevention Week to children

by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs

10/5/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Children have an important role when it comes to fire prevention and safety. They will be the main audience for this year's Fire Prevention Week activities Oct. 7-13, according to assistant fire Chief James K. Smith of Maxwell's Air Force Fire Department.

With many fun events planned throughout the week, Smith hopes kids will take what they learn to their parents when it comes to this year's theme "Have 2 Ways Out," which stresses the importance of planning two household escape routes in case of a fire.

"We take this Fire Prevention Week as an opportunity to really get with the young kids," said Smith. "Kids are always a big focal point for us because we think that if we can get the kids to practice good fire safety, then they could encourage their parents to practice good safety."

Some of the events planned for the week include tours of the Maxwell and Gunter fire departments and a fire safety house display Tuesday at the Maxwell Youth Center, where kids will have a chance to crawl through a "burning" trailer.

The department's mascot, "Sparky" the Dalmatian, will pay a visit Wednesday to Maxwell Elementary School and will return Friday with fire gear and a truck to answer any questions.

The week will end with a fire vehicle parade throughout the Maxwell and Gunter housing areas.

Additionally, there will be a booth set up at the Maxwell Exchange Tuesday, giving the Maxwell Air Force Fire Department personnel a chance to meet with the community and show residents how to create their own fire escape plan.

Escaping from their burning home is something people don't usually plan for, said Smith.

"If you wake up at three o'clock in the morning and you're in a deep sleep and your smoke alarm goes off, what are you going to do? A lot of people don't think about that," said Smith. "We want to encourage the families to have two ways out of the house. Don't practice just going out the front door. In some cases you may want to practice opening up a window, because a window can be used as a secondary means of escape."

The steps to create a fire escape plan are simple, according to the Maxwell Fire Department Fire Prevention Office and should be practiced twice a year during both day and night conditions.

Residents should first look at their house and create a diagram labeling the bedrooms, windows and interior and exterior doors.

Next, residents should ask themselves the following question: How would I leave the house in case of a fire if I were in a particular room? Residents are encouraged to designate two fire escape routes for each room in the house.

A meeting place should be designated a safe distance away from the house where everyone can be accounted for. They also should remember to call 911.