Children age five and under are twice as likely to die in fires as are older children and adults. Statistics show that for children ages 1-4, 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.
We can help protect our young children through a two-fold process of insuring there is a working smoke detector in every home, and by 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 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, October 7–13, 2018, First Pioneer Insurance Agency distributed informational coloring books and stickers to Moore County schools and day care centers. Kindergarten, first grade and preschool teachers will spend time with these children talking about smoke detectors and exit drills.
Operation EDITH will focus on three messages:
⦁ Have a working smoke detector
⦁ Practice a home exit drill
⦁ Get Low and Go – Stay under the dangerous smoke and get out of the house!
Young children learn by mimicking and repeating things. The home exit drill is one of the best ways to teach young children the skills that may save their life.
How to Plan a Home Exit Drill
1. Replace the batteries in all smoke detectors.
2. Talk with your family about what they should do when they hear the alarm.
3. Plan two exits from each room. Make sure children and adults can easily unlock doors and windows. If you must escape from a second-story window, make sure there is a safe way to reach the ground.
4. Decide on a family meeting spot outside the home. If everyone knows where to meet, you will know that everyone is safely out of the house.
5. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to call the fire department from a neighbor’s house.
Practice Your Plan
On Wednesday, October 10th, at 6:00 pm, join thousands of other North Carolina families to plan and practice a home Exit Drill. Test your smoke detector and have everyone Get Low & Go! Practice crawling low down hallways to stay below the dangerous smoke. Once everyone is out of the house and at your family meeting spot, make sure to reinforce to children that they are never to return to a burning building.
This message is brought to you by the Independent Insurance Agents of NC, First Pioneer Insurance Agency and your local fire and rescue providers. For more information about Operation EDITH, call (910) 944-2848 or stop by First Pioneer Insurance Agency at 409 Johnson Street in Aberdeen.
File photo: Structure fire in Aberdeen in 2017.