The Hartford Offers Free Junior Fire Marshal Educational Materials to Help Prevent Disasters

September 27, 2004

Stop, drop and roll… crawl low in smoke … practice home fire drills. At schools throughout the nation during October’s Fire Prevention Week, many schoolchildren will be drilled in such fire safety basics as don’t play with matches and crawl under smoke.

But parents have a key role to play in re-enforcing fire safety
fundamentals at home, according to The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. To help moms and dads make fire safety a family affair, The Hartford is making available free kid-friendly worksheets, activities and games from its Junior Fire Marshal program, now in its 57th year. The materials are designed for kids in grades kindergarten through third grade and are available in both Spanish and English at http://www.thehartford.comjfm.

“Kids are especially vulnerable in a fire emergency,” said Lalani Perry,
who oversees The Hartford’s Junior Fire Marshal program. “If we can teach kids at an early age how to safely escape a fire emergency, how to identify fire hazards, and not to play with matches, we can reduce this tragic statistic.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, some 824 youngsters under age 15 die in home fires each year.

Perry recommends that parents emphasize fire safety, especially by holding periodic home fire drills. Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 3 – 9, is a good time, she said, for parents to sit down with their kids to discuss a fire emergency plan and map out escape routes in case of fire.

“A good method we’ve found is to involve the kids in the planning
process,” said Perry. “Ask them to draw a picture of your home’s interior, showing the places for doors, windows and smoke detectors. Have them draw at least two ways out, and then as a family hold practice drills with everyone meeting at a safe place outside.”

Games and activities, posted on The Hartford’s Web site, can bolster fire safety messages. “Parents can reinforce the idea of crawling low under smoke by hanging sheets in a room two feet off the floor and asking their kids to crawl under the fabric,” said Perry. “Or pin orange felt ‘flames’ onto the back of their kids’ shirts to simulate burning clothing to practice stop, drop and roll. Our worksheets can make learning about fire safety fun.”

Parents should also make sure their youngsters know the safe way to get help. “If there’s a fire emergency, first evacuate your house, then call the fire department from a neighbor’s house,” said Perry. “Kids as young as three and four can be taught how to call 911.”

Additionally, Fire Prevention Week is a good time for parents to double-check their fire safety equipment to ensure good working order. There should be a smoke detector on each floor and batteries should be changed annually. Perry recommends parents demonstrate the smoke detector’s alarm so their children can recognize the sound in an emergency.

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