N.C. Ind. Agents Team Up with Local Fire Departments, Schools to Promote Fire Safety

October 6, 2003

Young children are reportedly twice as likely to die in fires as are older children and adults. Statistics show that for young children, fires and burns are the leading cause of unintentional injury. Why?

Many young children die in fires because they instinctively try to hide from smoke and flames. Fear often causes children to hide in a closet or under a bed in the mistaken belief that they are safe from fire.

Fear also causes many children to escape to safety without telling anyone about the fire. They may fear blame, so they do not alert an adult to the fire. Other children left in the home often die or are injured.

To help protect young children, there is a two-fold process of insuring so that a working smoke detector is in every home, and encouraging parents to conduct an Exit Drill in the home with their families.

That is the goal of Operation EDITH, a public service campaign of the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina (IIANC).

Operation EDITH, whose letters stand for Exit Drill In The Home has been around for many years as a way to educate parents that practicing a home exit drill and having a working smoke detector can save lives.

The chances of dying in a home fire are cut in half when there is a working smoke detector and are reduced even further if every member of the household knows what to do when it sounds. Smoke detectors can give parents up to three minutes to save themselves and their children from the effects of smoke and the devastation of a home fire.

The three-minute grace period does not, however, allow for indecision or lack of preparedness. Without a planned escape route that has been practiced by the whole family, the successful escape of all family members is at risk. Precious escape time is often spent trying to find children who have panicked and hidden.

During Fire Safety Week, Oct. 5-11, independent agents in conjunction with local fire departments, will distribute parent brochures, posters, coloring books and stickers to area schools and day care centers. Volunteers will spend time with these children talking about smoke detectors and exit drills.

Operation EDITH will focus on three messages:

1. Have a working smoke detector

2. Practice a home exit drill

3. Get Low and Go- Stay under the dangerous smoke and get out of the house!

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