BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) — To kick off the 2019 National Fire Prevention Week, Burton Fire District is introducing children at area preschools to fire safety.
The teaching opportunities hold even more significance in light of the recent two-week stretch of devastating fires that have displaced families in Beaufort County.
“Our jobs are to go to fires, but at the end of the day, we don’t want to, because that’s someone’s worst nightmare,” said Alex Scripp, a Burton Fire District firefighter EMT.
Children’s lives can be particularly at risk, since more than half of child-set fires — an average of 400 fires per week — are started by preschool- and kindergarten-aged kids, according to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Kids aged 5 and younger are also more likely to die in a fire.
Many of those fire-related child deaths, said Scripp, involve a cooking mishap.
“When we find children who don’t survive fires, we often find them under the bed, in the closet or hiding,” Capt. Daniel Byrne, fire marshal and paramedic for Burton Fire District, told News 3.
“Oftentimes, they’re not told what to do when they hear that alarm, and when you combine the smoke alarm with smoke, children have a tendency to panic if they’re not taught what to do,” Byrne said.
That’s why introducing kids to fire safety basics in a fun way is Burton Fire District’s focus this week.
Monday morning, children from Hobbit Hill Preschool stopped by the fire station to learn about what firefighters do, what number they should call for help and the importance of smoke detectors.
“This year, we’re really trying to focus on smoke detectors, making sure your bedroom door is closed while you’re sleeping and fire extinguishers,” Scripp said, adding that every house should have a fire extinguisher wherever it can be placed.
Hobbit Hill preschoolers also got to watch how a firefighter puts on all of his gear and learned about the dangers of matches.
No trip to a fire station would be complete without a fire truck tour. So, each junior firefighter got to hop on the red truck before heading home with a hat to match.
“Daycares are something we really focus on as an introduction for Fire Prevention Week, and hopefully we’ll touch base with them before the school year’s out to kind of remind them,” Byrne said.
“We make them practice fire drills every month at school, but they’re more likely to die in a house fire than they are at school, so we encourage parents to talk about smoke alarms in their homes, sleep with bedroom doors closed and tell your child what to do when they hear that alarm, how they’re supposed to react,” he said.