POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – Pound Ridge Elementary School students are a little bit smarter about fire safety these days.
As a culmination to last week’s National Fire Prevention Week, the school held a “Fire Prevention Day” on Friday, Oct. 14. The Pound Ridge Fire Department came out to teach the kids about fire safety and prevention and show them what they and their fire trucks do in an emergency. The firefighters visited each class and gave them a presentation.
“We tell them basic things like don’t play with matches and in the event of a fire, get out and go to a neighbor’s house if they have to,” said Lt. James “Sam” Dodge, of the Pound Ridge Fire Department. “We tell them to call 9-1-1 and stay on the line with them and don’t hang up.”
Dodge said the firemen try to take a different approach with the younger children vs. the older ones.
“We tell them that if they can’t get out, to hang a sheet out their window and wait for us to come,” he said.
So the kids will recognize a firefighter when he or she does show up, they show them what they will look like when they come into the house. One of the volunteers dresses in full fire gear, including the breathing apparatus, and then enters the classroom.
“It’s a bit daunting when they see him. Their breathing apparatus is on and they sound like Darth Vader,” Dodge said. “But [the firefighter] walks right up to the kids and takes the equipment off so they can see there is a human being under there. We tell them, if there’s a fire, run towards them.”
Dodge said he usually takes a poll of the students to see which families practice fire drills at home. He said the results aren’t usually very encouraging. But with the fire department’s urging, he hopes the students will go home and bug their parents to do it.
“I ask them who practices fire drills at home and usually only about two or three out of 20 raise their hands,” he said.
Dodge said it is important for kids to know an exit strategy at home in case of a fire – known as Exiting Drilling in the Home (EDTH).
“The idea is to have a safe place to meet outside the house,” he said.
The firefighters also discuss the importance of smoke alarms and tell the students to remind their parents that the alarms’ batteries should be changed every six months.
As a climax to the day, the kids get to go outside and check out the fire trucks, walk through them and learn what they do and how they work. They are also given gift packs that include fire safety themed coloring books, puzzles, pencils and other items geared toward their particular age group.
“A lot of credit has to go to Captain Peter D’Agostino for putting those together,” Dodge said. “He makes sure everybody has something to take home and divides it all up so they’re geared toward each particular grade.”
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