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Firefighter Benjamin Huston wants children to remember that you can never trust fire.
Huston, who is the life safety educator for Wilson Fire/Rescue Services, makes that point over and over to children touring the Fire and Life Safety Adventure House run by the department in Wilson.
On Thursday, second-graders from Gardners Elementary School went through the house and learned a wide range of safety tips that could save their lives.
“Especially at second grade, it’s really important because it helps them analytically to be able to process things,” Huston said. “At this age, it’s vital that they begin because this is the age that dies the most in houses, staying in there not knowing what to do. So we just chose the items that we most respond to most on service calls and emergency calls. That makes a big difference.”
The children begin the tour learning that when a family develops a fire safety plan, that should include creating a meeting place outside the home where all members of the family can gather after they have escaped a home in the event of a fire.
Inside, Huston tests the children’s knowledge of a variety of points of fire safety.
Children need to remember that if their house catches fire, they need to get out of the house immediately.
They need to remember that even if there is a shield in front of their fireplace, it is not OK to keep things close to it.
Children learned that it is dangerous to overload electrical outlets and that it is very unsafe to leave candles burning unattended in the house.
They learned that hot water can burn one’s skin just like a fire.
Another important message was that using lighters and matches is never OK for a child,
The children were also taught that they should have more than one way to escape from their home in the event of a fire.
“Right now, we are going to really emphasize for the second-graders an evacuation of a bedroom-type environment where they can be in their own bedroom-type environment and evacuate the house,” Huston said. “That really sticks with them because it’s going to bring in a lot of things sensory-wise. It’s going to bring in their hearing. It’s going to bring in their visual with the smoke. They are going to have to go through the window. Some of them have never left their house through a window.”
According to Huston, the drill makes a huge impression on most children.
Huston frequently encounters kids in high school who remember the escape drill they participated in at the house.
“We know that it changes the way they think and what they believe, so that’s a good thing,” Huston said.
“The house is a great asset to us because we can show them in real time what it may be like in a fire, not 100 percent what it’s going to be like but in a controlled environment where children can learn,” said Chief Albert Alston of Wilson Fire-Rescue Services.
“When children learn, they tend to take it home to their parents, so we’re not just teaching the child. We’re trying to reach the entire household. That child learns about fire safety. They learn about smoke detectors. They learn about ways to get out of the home. The plan is that hopefully they go home and talk to their parents about it, so now the parents are getting educated. So we are hoping that this house reaches not only the child but the entire house.”