Elementary School Programs
Rockingham County Fire & Rescue is committed to providing fire safety education starting with our youngest citizens. During the school year four days of lessons are offered to all Pre-K and all Kindergarten classes in the County. These programs are also available to daycare and schools outside the RCPS system.
Lessons covered in Pre-K include:
MATCHES AND LIGHTERS… TOOLS, NOT TOYS
Each year thousands of unintentional fires are started, and many children are injured or worse, as a result of children playing with matches and lighters. One of the lessons covered is that matches and lighters are TOOLS, NOT TOYS. It is emphasized that TOOLS are for adults and TOYS are for children. The kids are told that they should NEVER touch matches or lighters. They are taught if they ever see matches or lighters they should find an adult and ask them to pick them up and put them up high where kids cannot access them. We encourage parents and caregivers to reinforce this lesson at home, to not only keep the children safe, but also to make their home a safer place for everyone. Families are encouraged to keep any matches or lighters they have in their home out of reach of and away from children to prevent any opportunity for children to come into contact with them.
Many children find fire fascinating which is not unusual. It is important, however, to take the time to explain how fire is helpful when used properly, and how harmful it can be when misused.
Every year many children are burned or injured by coming into contact with or too close to hot objects. In addition, many home fires occur with children knocking over or moving hot objects into combustible or flammable items. Children are taught the importance of staying back or away from HOT SPOTS, such as, but not limited to candles, stoves/ovens, coffee pots, curling irons, etc. While it is understandable that some parents allow their children to assist with activities in the kitchen, it is important to limit what the children are permitted to do and ensure that they understand that they should not prepare food in the kitchen without an adult.
STOP,DROP & ROLL
Each year thousands of people are injured as a result of clothing fires. In order to reduce injuries, and potentially worse outcomes, children are taught to STOP,DROP & ROLL. The importance of not running or attempting to take off burning clothes in the event that their clothes catch on fire is explained. We talk them through the proper steps and then demonstrate how to properly execute STOP, DROP, & ROLL.
STOP – Do not run as this will cause the fire to grow.
DROP – Drop to the ground, wherever you are. Cover your face with your hands as this will help protect your face.
ROLL – Roll over and over until the fire is out.
Children are encouraged to talk with parents and family members about the importance of knowing this skill. Parents are encouraged to have children demonstrate this for family members, and then have family members practice with them so that the entire family can be more safe.
Lessons in Kindergarten build on the Pre-K ones and expand into things the students can do to help their families be safer as well:
Many times each year a child activates the 911 system to initiate an emergency response and becomes the hero in making a difference in the emergency situation. It is important that children know what to do if they need help and there is not an adult nearby capable of helping. It is also important that children understand that the 911 system is not something they should ever play with as it could affect someone else getting the help that they need. Time is spent discussing what is and is not an emergency. Additionally, the fact that cell phones can still dial 911, even if deactivated, is covered. The children are told that if they ever call 911, even by mistake, to remain on the line and tell the dispatcher that it was an accident. The importance of students knowing their address is also explained. Parents are encouraged to reinforce these messages at home as it can make the difference in helping the kids understand the appropriate use of 911, and could also help the kids be more comfortable using 911 which could make a big difference in someone else’s life or property.
GET OUT AND STAY OUT
This day in class is full of safety messages that impact the entire family. As part of this lesson the importance of working smoke alarms is stressed, and children are encouraged to go home and check smoke alarms with their adults. If they find that they do not have any, the smoke alarms that they do have do not work, or the alarms are over ten years old the children are given information about the Department’s free smoke alarm program. (Please see Free Smoke Alarm Program on this page for more information) In the event of a fire in the home the children are taught to GET OUT AND STAY OUT. The kids are told that if there is ever a fire in the home they should not stop to get any belongings, pets or other family members. And that they should NEVER go back in the home after exiting. Information on home escape planning and a home safety checklist is sent home with the kids during this week for the parents to refer to. Families are encouraged to sit down together and develop and then practice a Home Escape Plan – this important activity could be vital in the event of an emergency in the home.
SAFE MEETING PLACE
A SAFE MEETING PLACE is a designated location that EVERYONE in the home knows to meet at outside in the event of a fire. It is explained to the children that this gives families the peace of mind of knowing that everyone is accounted for. It also allows family members to notify fire department personnel if anyone is not accounted for and the details of where they might possibly be located so a quick search can be performed to attempt a rescue. When there is not a SAFE MEETING PLACE designated often we find people wandering around the scene without knowing if everyone is accounted for or whether or not someone may have re-entered the home. Families are encouraged to designate a place outside and a safe distance from their home that everyone knows to go to, and add this step to their home escape planning and practice. This additional step is vital to family safety and emergency responders coming to assist in an emergency.
Fifth graders also have the opportunity to receive extensive additional fire safety education over several days covering topics such as: locating and correcting home fire hazards, particularly those involving cooking, heating, electrical appliances, and chemicals; the 911 system and reporting emergencies, developing home escape plans, the importance of smoke alarms and a brief introduction to fire extinguishment techniques.
Questions & Additional Information:
If you have any questions or would like more information about fire safety please contact the Fire & Life Safety Division at 540-564-3175