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The idea of loved ones being in a dangerous situation is not something many of us prefer to think about but preparing ourselves ahead of time could just save a life.

As part of National Fire Prevention Week, the Fredericktown Fire Department spent Tuesday morning educating students from Fredericktown Elementary.

“We are working to educate everyone not just the students we saw today,” Fredericktown Fire Chief John Clark said. “During most house fires, the families can have as little as two minutes from the time they hear the smoke detectors to get outside safely.”

Clark said National Fire Prevention Week is the perfect time to make a plan, practice the plan and check all the smoke detectors in the home.

“Practicing is important especially for families with children,” Clark said. “Choose a safe spot outside whether it be a tree, the mailbox, the end of the driveway, any spot that will be easy to remember.”

Clark said many homes do not have smoke detectors or have them but they do not work.

“Having a smoke detector in your home that does not work is like not wearing your seat belt when you are driving or riding in a car,” Clark said. “Both are there to help protect you when things go wrong.”

During their visit, students were shown the equipment firefighters would be wearing and taught never to hide when they hear a firefighter calling to them.

“Letting the children see and interact with us and our equipment gives them a connection with us,” Clark said. “We want them to feel safe and we want them to know if there is an emergency even though we look like a Halloween character, we are there to help them.”

Class after class filtered into the firehouse to hear from the firefighters. The children were on their best behavior as they hung onto every word and learned what to do in case of a fire.

Clark said they instructed the children to follow their family’s emergency plan, to avoid smoke and heat by keeping low to the ground as they leave the house and to never hide.

“When a child sees smoke or hears an alarm going off they can get scared and in some cases hide in the closet or under the bed,” Clark said. “This is exactly why we need to educate the children so they know what to expect and have a plan to keep them safe.”

This year the National Fire Prevention Agency, NFPA, set the Fire Prevent Week campaign as “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!”

The NFPA said a hero can be anyone who takes small but important actions to keep themselves and those around them safe from fire.

Clark said the students who came through the firehouse on Tuesday may have been young but they are smart and ready to help keep their families safe.

“Fire safety education is not just for school children,” Clark said. “Hopefully this school visit will get the whole family talking about fire safety and will reduce the risk of fires throughout the whole community.”

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Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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