The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) along with fire departments and primary and pre-school teachers across the country, have introduced a new tool to help kids and families be better prepared in case of fire: cute and fuzzy bunny rabbits.
“Have Two Ways Out” is this year’s theme for Fire Prevention Week, which runs October 7 – 13. The theme builds on rabbits’ instinct to always have at least two exits from their underground homes leading to safety. Fire Chief Stephen Gamble, president of the CAFC, says families who create and practise an escape plan together, with two ways out of every room if possible, have a better chance of escaping during a real fire emergency.
“An escape plan helps families respond more quickly and calmly when faced with a real fire situation,” Chief Gamble says. “When a smoke alarm sounds, everyone needs to know what to do and where to go. Planning two ways out of each room, ahead of time, greatly increases your chances of getting out without injury.”
Among the “Have Two Ways Out” activities will be a week of home fire escape lessons taught to young children by primary and pre-school teachers, followed by home-work assignments encouraging families to prepare and practise an escape plan.
The effort extends through the entire month of October featuring a special web site www.safeathome.ca/twowaysout where families can print out a free home escape plan template. They can also watch for it in the “Have Two Ways Out” homework package which the CAFC designed to help parents, teachers and kids work hand in hand.
Families who register the completion of their plan on line are rewarded with a “Have Two Ways Out” Certificate and the chance to win over $10,000 in prizes including Kidde Escape Ladders, Smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarms. Teachers can also register their classrooms for a chance to win Domino’s Pizza Parties, glow in dark Kidde Sparky Smoke Alarms, and Sparky the Fire Dog plush toys that speak fire safety messages.
Carol Heller is a home fire safety specialist with Kidde Canada, recognized as the largest smoke and carbon monoxide alarm company in Canada—and a major partner in the CAFC’s annual Fire Prevention Week campaign.
Heller says two more factors are important for families to consider to avoid fire tragedy. “If a false alarm has caused you to take the batteries out of your smoke alarm, or remove it from the ceiling, it won’t be there when you need it most.
“So when your kids come home from school excited to create an escape plan, also make sure smoke alarms are installed and working on every storey of your home,” Heller adds, “Remember that smoke alarms wear out. Replace them every 10 years whether they are battery operated or hardwired into your home’s electrical system.”
Fire Departments play a major part in the safety campaign’s success, building on their established school programs of working hand-in-hand with youngsters and educators. A free home escape plan template and more family fire safety tips can be found online at the campaign website www.safeathome.ca/twowaysout.