Floods Do Not Wash Away Hopes

Author Portrait_Rubina Raut, Sponsorship Program Officer
Rubina-Raut

Sponsorship Program Officer

Save the Children in Nepal-Bhutan

January 8, 2018

The August rains this year in Nepal proved to be one of the harshest the country has seen in years.

The day started just like any other day in Saptari, one of the sponsorship supported areas in the eastern region of Nepal – bright and sunny. But then, the sky was engulfed with dark clouds and wind, signs of approaching rain. The weather forecast warned of heavy rainfall. However, many, including me, went home in the evening with little thought about the impending damage. The rain got worse as the day went on.

A little before dawn, people chattering woke me up. Everyone, young and old, was wide awake. The water leaking through the closed doors was pooling inside my house, and my neighbor’s houses. As we waited for the relief of daybreak, we piled up furniture to achieve some higher ground for our valuables.

As the light broke through, my hometown was looking more like a deep pond. The magnitude of destruction was immeasurable.

Children in Saptari taking refuge in temporary shelters while their homes are submerged in flood waters.
Children in Saptari taking refuge in temporary shelters while their homes are submerged in flood waters.

The flood washed away homes, belongings and crops as well, damaging families’ livelihoods that were meant to last them throughout the year, in a series of continuous downpours. Homes, schools, hospitals and health posts were partially submerged in water. Everyone was searching for high elevation to take refuge. Families brought along with themselves anything they could save – most clutched their precious goats and cattle, their only source of livelihood left. It was really disheartening to see people, especially young carefree children, not having access to clean drinking water during this crisis.

Despite the damage, some of the children still seemed sunny and upbeat, as they swam and played, trying to fish in the new pools of flooded water.

Save the Children helped distribute tarps to around 1,000 affected households, to ensure families have a shelter above them, and shared over 800 hygiene kits – containing items like soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, water purifiers, underwear and towels. Our goal was to ensure children could remain safe from preventable diseases, the prevalence of which rises dramatically during such natural disasters, because water can become contaminated easily.

Floods consuming a small village.
Floods consuming a small village.

Children, among others, are more at risk in disasters like these. Physical as well as psychological shelter is an urgent need for children during emergencies. In addition to health kits and support in finding shelters, almost 500 children were provided student kits including learning materials like books and notebooks, replacing lost school supplies as the flood in Saptari gradually dries up.

Without sponsorship, none of this relief would have been possible. From my neighbors and I, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Do you have a family plan for when emergencies strike? Being prepared and organized goes a long way in times of crises. How does your family weather big storms?

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

“Bewildered and Covered in Blood.” Syria’s Children One Year After Alan Kurdi’s Death

11 year old boy from Syria
11-year-old Tamer fled Syria with his family. He now lives in a refugee camp in Lebanon.

September 5, 2016

On September 2nd, the one year anniversary of Alan Kurdi’s death, there was a lot of reflecting on what the world has done since to prevent such needless loss of life.

Many rightly conclude not nearly enough.

Almost 4,000 people have drowned since Alan’s death – over 3,000 of them this year alone – trying to reach European shores from Africa and the Middle East.

And for those who remain in Syria – the country Alan and his family died trying to flee from – there is utterly unthinkable suffering and despair.

Inside Syria

The situation in Syria right now is possibly the worst it has been since the conflict began over 5 years ago.

There are still around 250,000 children living in besieged areas across Syria. And the reports we’re receiving from our partners working to reach these children grow increasingly more tragic.

Donate to our Syria Crisis Appeal

We all saw the shocking images from Madaya at the start of the year. Skeletal children, pleading to be fed.

The town has been under siege by government forces and affiliated militias for more than a year. No aid has made it into Madaya since April and families are facing deadly shortages of food and medical supplies.

Yesterday we received a report from our partners that moved me to tears.

The situation has become so desperate, and children so emotionally and physically crushed, that medical staff say at least six children – the youngest a 12-year-old girl – and seven young adults have attempted suicide in the past two months, unable to cope with torturous conditions.

Escaping Syria

Even for those offered an escape route, such as the evacuation of Daraya last weekend, there are concerns for their safety and freedom of movement as they are transferred into shelters in government-held areas.

It shouldn’t require an entire community to leave their homes for families to get access to vital food, water and medical supplies.

There is a humanitarian imperative to ensure sustained and regular access for aid convoys to all besieged towns. But this continues to be denied.

Bombed school in Syria.
A Save the Children supported school in Syria that has been bombed.

One year on

Since Alan’s death, children continue to pay the price of this war.

The world was once again stunned at the image of Omran Daqneesh, the five-year-old boy from Aleppo, sitting bewildered in the ambulance, covered in blood and dust.

Aleppo is witnessing among the most extreme bombardment this crisis has seen.

Just this weekend our partners reported that 11 children have been killed by an airstrike, then as their grief-stricken community paid their respects to these young lives, their funeral was barrel bombed.

Other unverified reports suggest that in July alone, up to 340 children in Aleppo were injured by airstrikes and other-war related injuries and 101 died after being admitted to hospitals.

But where is the outcry?

The complete apathy around the Syria crisis is an insult to the thousands of children, like Alan, who have died as a result of this conflict in some shape of form.

At the weekend it seemed like some glimmer of hope might be there for the thousands of children trapped in Aleppo – Russia and the US agreed a path to get all parties around the table to discuss a 48-hour cease fire.

We all know that to make sure we can safely conduct effective and efficient humanitarian activities, the ceasefire for Aleppo must be extended beyond 48 hours, but this would be a welcome first step.

But one week on from this promise and we’ve seen no evidence that parties can agree to even this short pause in fighting. This is not acceptable.

 

Syria’s children cannot wait any longer.

Anniversaries of such tragic moments serve to remind us that we must do more to protect children in war. We should feel upset today, we should feel angry, but most of all we should demand action.

Donate to our Syria Crisis Appeal today. 

“We vaccinated children in sandstorms”: How Our Emergency Team Saves Lives

by Dr Nicholas Alusa

Save the children car in Kenya.

Our Emergency Health Unit in Kenya, working on cholera prevention.

Measles is a highly contagious, horrific disease. If left untreated, in a worst case scenario, it can lead to death.

There’s no specific treatment for measles: all that medics can do is isolate the sufferer, give them vitamin A, and hope for the best.

In high-income countries most people infected with the disease recover in a couple of weeks, very few die. But in developing countries it kills up to one in five.

A safe and cost-effective vaccine does exist.  But families in remote areas, in countries with weak health systems, struggle to access it.

An emergency unfolds

Mayom County, in rural northern South Sudan, is one such place. A remote population in a country whose infrastructure has been crippled by civil war, no children have received routine vaccinations here for over two years. In January a few suspected cases of measles appeared, scattered around the main town. By the end of February, the county was in the grip of a fully-blown outbreak.

Nearly three quarters of the cases were children. If someone didn’t act fast, a tragedy of enormous scale was on the horizon: tens of thousands of children were at risk.

Previously in situations like this, we would have to spend time pulling together teams of specialists and supplies – a delay that costs lives. But last year we revolutionized the way we get medical care to children in emergencies, when we launched the Emergency Health Unit.

The unit is made up of fully-formed, world-class teams of medics on standby all over the world, ready to deploy within hours – complete with equipment, supplies, and logistics experts like me with the skills to get everything where it’s needed quickly.

When you have pre-positioned supplies you don’t have to spend time initiating the supply chain process, raising a procurement form, searching for funds, finding suppliers who can take months…while children in emergencies wait. That’s why these kits are so important.

Transforming emergency care

As soon as we heard about the measles outbreak in South Sudan, my team was mobilized. Within two weeks of the outbreak being announced, we were on the ground vaccinating children in 18 clinics and 24 mobile outreach centers.

Tracking the population in South Sudan is difficult, especially since the outbreak of conflict and the huge movement of people it has caused. A rough estimate told us we could expect to vaccinate around 26,000 children. Three weeks later, we had vaccinated 44,447.

We linked up with local staff and infrastructure and worked with the community to raise awareness on our behalf and tell people we were here. Word spread quickly, and after receiving 60 children on the first day, numbers rapidly swelled to up to 400 daily. Reaching out to the community in this way is so important to our work in emergencies – we would never have reached as many children as we did without their help.

South Sudan sandstorm

The Emergency Health Unit team continued to treat children through sandstorms.

A medal of honor

The infrastructure in Mayom is poor – it’s difficult to reach this part of South Sudan, and many NGOs are reluctant to attempt healthcare here. We relied on an array of transport, including motorbikes and canoes, to reach the most remote communities. We travelled across rough, rugged terrain and collapsed bridges, and vaccinated children in the middle of sandstorms.

We hurried, carrying life-saving vaccines that melted at three times the normal speed in Mayom’s 40-degree heat in precious cool-boxes . All while wearing what my colleague Nathalie calls the ‘Mayom suit’: head-to-toe dust.

In one rural cattle ranch our team leader, Koki, was heavily spat on by an elderly man on our arrival. “Hey, what’s this?” Koki said at the time, wiping the slimy liquid from his forehead. It turned out this was a sign of appreciation from the old man, who in his lifetime had never seen any NGO reach his remote community. ‘’Being spat on by an old man signifies immense blessings bestowed upon Save the Children!’’ a local health official told us.

And this salivary medal of honor feels truly earned. It was an incredible achievement: in this most inhospitable of environments, we did whatever it took to protect the vulnerable children in this isolated part of the world. Our new system works: in just three weeks, 44,447 children were permanently saved from a potentially deadly fate. A catastrophe was averted.

Now – what’s next?

 

Nicholas Alusa Dr Nicholas Alusa is an experienced pharmacist and medical logistics expert working as part of our new Emergency Health Unit, a major change in our work. The Unit consists of immediately deployable teams containing the ideal combination of medical and operational specialists, strategically positioned in emergency hotspots around the world and fully equipped with the best tools for the job. We can deploy these teams in a matter of hours, putting them at a child’s side, giving them the treatment they need in those critical early stages of an emergency.

Prep Rally Brings Community Together to Keep Kids Safe

Elizabeth-pulliam headshot

Elizabeth Pulliam, Program Specialist

Kentucky

October 7, 2014

 

Lightning strikes as an instantaneous thunderclap bursts around your house. You begin to wonder if the batteries in your flashlight are working or if yesterday’s grocery purchases will spoil before the power is restored. You see, your child is calm and knows exactly where to find the flashlight. These are behaviors she learned from Save the Children’s Prep Rally program– new emergency program that teaches kids basic preparedness skills through interactive activities and games.

Tucked into the heart of Appalachia, Owsley County, Kentucky is a very rural area with disaster risks covering everything from flooding and tornadoes to wildfires and earthquakes. Children are the most vulnerable during disaster, and as a nation, we are underprepared to protect them during emergencies. Twenty-one states lack basic regulations for protecting children in schools and child care and 74 percent of parents don’t feel very prepared to protect their kids. The Prep Rally Program was created with the understanding – that we can’t prevent disasters from happening, but it’s how we prepare for them that will make the difference.

Owsley County community leaders, including school staff, emergency services, first responders and government officials, banded together to plan a Prep Rally that would help children in Owsley Elementary School’s Afterschool program be ready to weather any storm. Photo Aug 28, 3 18 38 PM

The Prep Rally covers four basic Prep Steps that help build children’s resilience: 

  1. Recognizing Risks
  2. Planning Ahead
  3. Gathering Wise Supplies
  4. During Disaster

During after-school programming in the week leading up to their Prep Rally, Owsley students read books about preparedness and survival as part of their literacy lessons. They discussed the risks for natural disasters in their community and learned how to design a safety plan at home and how to reunite with their families should disaster strike.

On the day of the community Prep Rally event, the children kicked things off with a Get Ready Get Safe cheers and the Mayor of Booneville declared it Get Ready Get Safe Emergency Preparedness Day! The mayor also led the Preparedness Pledge, encouraging the children to talk with and make a plan with their families. Then children rotated through five themed stations including the Pillowcase Project, Red Cross coping skills, fire safety, tornado safety and water safety. Children were able to talk with local firefighters and police as well as climb aboard and explore fire truck and emergency medical helicopter.

“The students became more familiar with the types of disasters and how to be better prepared to cope with them,” said Phyllis Bowman, Owsley’s afterschool program coordinator. “Even though we are a small community with limited resources, the response from our emergency people was great. This is indicative of their support of our children."

1055In addition to getting kids pumped to prep, the community Prep Rally created a dialogue between schools to work with emergency services agencies, and government officials about how to best prepare and protect Owsley County.

“The Prep Rally provided the children of Owsley County a valuable educational experience with the emergency services and preparedness personnel in our area,” said Bart Patton, Chief of the Booneville-Owsley County Volunteer Fire Department. “It encouraged the children to go home and prepare, along with their parents and guardians, plans to help them through disasters safely. We were all proud to be part of the program.”

The Owsley Elementary event is just one example of a successful Prep Rally- which has been implemented in 10 states serving thousands of children and families. The best part of the Prep Rally curriculum is that it can be shaped to fit the specific needs of your community—whether it’s a scout troop, afterschool, summer camp, or the beginning of tornado season.

Is Your Community Prepared to Protect Kids in Emergencies?

Get the FREE downloadable Prep Rally Kit: www.savethechildren.org/PrepRally

And register your Community Prep Rally for the chance for Save the Children ambassador Lassie to visit your event!

For more information, email GetReady@savechildren.org

Prepare Your Family for Hurricanes

Children at Play

Hurricane Sandy devastated the northeastern seaboard in 2012. Make sure your family is ready to respond to hurricanes.

Hurricane season has officially started, so what better time to observe Hurricane Preparedness Week and ensure your family is ready to weather any storm?   Every year, an average of 10 tropical storms develop over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico—and six of them are likely to become hurricanes.  These destructive storms can batter homes and whole communities with high winds, heavy rains, large waves, flooding and hail. Children are particularly vulnerable when disaster strikes, but the simple steps below can help protect your family.

 

10 Tips to Keep Children Safe in Hurricanes

PREPARE:

1. Talk about hurricanes. Spend time with your family discussing why hurricanes occur. Explain that a hurricane is a natural event and not anyone’s fault. Use simple words that even young children can understand.

2. Know your risk. Find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation area. Assess your risks from a storm surge, flooding or wind damage that may accompany a hurricane.

3. Practice evacuation drills. Practice your family evacuation plan so that, during an emergency, you can evacuate quickly and safely.

4. Learn your caregivers’ disaster plans. Ask about evacuation plans and if you would be required to pick up your children from the site or from another location.

5. Stay informed. Use a NOAA weather radio or listen to a local station on a portable, battery-powered radio or television.

 

DURING A HURRICANE:

6. Evacuate if instructed to do so. Evacuate if told to do so by local authorities or if you feel unsafe. If advised to evacuate, avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges. Local officials may close certain roads, especially near the coast, when effects of the hurricane reach the coast.

7. Stay indoors, if not evacuated. If you are not advised to evacuate, or are unable to do so safely, stay indoors, away from windows, skylights and doors. Continue to monitor weather reports and do not go outside until the storm has passed.

 

AFTER A HURRICANE:

8. Limit media exposure. Protect children from seeing too many sights and images of the hurricane, including those on the internet, television or newspapers.

9. Ensure utilities are available. Before children return to areas impacted by a hurricane, make sure utilities, such as electricity and plumbing, are restored and living and learning spaces (e.g., homes, schools, child care facilities) are free from physical and environmental hazards.

10. Involve children in recovery. After a hurricane, let children help in clean-up and recovery efforts in age-appropriate ways as this participation may increase their sense of control over the situation.

 

Additional Resources: The tips above are just the start of knowing how to prepare for and respond to hurricanes. Use the following resources to help ensure your family is ready for the next hurricane:

 

American Red Cross: Hurricane Preparedness. http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/hurricane

National Hurricane Center: Hurricane Preparedness—Be Ready http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/ready.php

 

A Recipe for Readiness

 Sarah Thompson head shotSarah Thompson, Communications Manager

Save the Children, USA

November 26, 2013

Basting turkeys, mashing potatoes, tossing salads…. Hours and hours go into that one delectable Thanksgiving meal shared with family and friends. Yet, when it comes to protecting the people we cherish most, can we say we’ve taken the same time to prepare?

Luckily, the holiday season provides great opportunities to take on emergency planning.  Take some time while the family’s all together to make a family emergency plan. You’ll be thankful you did.

6 Reasons Why the Holidays Make Emergency Planning Easy

1)    Family Time: Finally, a holiday break from crazy work and school schedules.  What better time to talk over different emergency scenarios, contacts and meeting locations with your kids. It will help them understand what to do and feel safe. Having trouble squeezing it in? Talk during the car ride to Grandma’s or during meal preparation, while every family member is present.

2)    The Big Game: If you’re watching the big football game you’re already in game-plan mode. Build off that team spirit and make planning fun. Give each child a nickname and create codenames for different parts of your emergency plan.  Then write it down and post it where all family members can find it, just like a playbook.

3)    Greeting Cards: We send friends holiday cards filled with well wishes and photos showing just how much the little ones have sprouted.  While you’re at it, create or update an ID card for each child. Include medication and allergy information, a current photo and emergency contact numbers and emails. Then share the cards with teachers and child care providers.

4)    Visitors: Whether your family is traveling or inviting company to your home turf, the holidays are the perfect time to identify your out-of-town emergency contact. This person can serve as a satellite if an emergency shuts down local communications and help your family reunite.  Have kids practice calling out-of-town contacts to wish them a happy holiday.

5)    Holiday Shopping:  Whether you’re buying a turkey and all the fixings or trying to hunt down that perfect gift for your kid, chances are you’ll be doing some shopping. While you’re out, stock up on key emergency supplies, including water and food for each family member, flashlights, batteries and a radio. Don’t forget kid-friendly items like diapers, fruit snacks and child-strength medications.

6)    An Annual Reminder: The best part about the holidays is that they happen every year! If you start associating emergency preparedness with the season you’ll be reminded to update and practice your plan every year.  Make emergency preparedness a family tradition.

Planning for emergencies doesn’t have to be overwhelming or rushed.  A little planning now can go a long way in protecting your family if disaster ever strikes.    Save the Children’s family emergency checklist can help you every step of the way.

Tis the season to Get Ready, Get Safe!

Keeping Expectant Mothers and Children Protected During California Wildfires

DeMarrais picJeanne-Aimee De Marrais, Advisor, Domestic Emergencies, Save the Children

Westport, CT

May 4, 2013


As wildfires continue to wreak havoc in California, Save the Children is releasing the following two-part guidance to protect those who are the most vulnerable. Follow this combination of tips, created by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and our own disaster preparedness experts, to help expectant mothers and families with young children stay safe and protected during the wildfires or any fire emergency.

Tips for expectant mothers and parents with young children facing evacuation

  • Be prepared to evacuate quickly and have important items (such as copies of medical records and medications) ready to go— you may not have much time.
  • When checking into a shelter or temporary housing, alert the staff if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.
  • If pregnant, seek prenatal care even if it is not with your usual provider. 
  • Make sure health care providers at the shelter know about any special needs or health problems that you or your child have, or any medicines you might be taking (both over the counter and prescription.)
  • If you don't have your infant's medicine with you, ask health care providers at the shelter for assistance in getting it.
  • Make sure your baby gets plenty of breast milk or formula, and you drink enough water.
  • Pregnant women and children should stay indoors, if possible, to avoid breathing smoke or fumes. Rest often and stay inside if possible.
  • If you’re pregnant, rest often and get plenty of water.

 (Guidelines derived from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. To see the complete guidance–Wildfires: Information for Pregnant Women and Parents of Young Infants–please visit http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/Emergency/WildFires.htm)

For more information on how to keep you and your children safe during a wildfire, visit the website of the Center for Disease and Control Prevention.

General fire safety tips for families

Save the Children wishes to remind parents, teachers, and caregivers about the importance of child fire safety. About 80 percent of all fire-related deaths and injuries occur in the home, and young children are at a particularly high risk. They may not understand the danger or may not be able to escape. Children under the age of 5 account for almost half of all home fire victims. Children in the poorest homes face the greatest risk of death. Every family member should know exactly what to do in case of a fire emergency. Precious seconds can be lost when someone can’t find a way out in the dark or does not know how to release a window lock. Having a family fire safety plan and practicing it will save lives.

Here are some tips for keeping families safe. For further guidance specific to your community, contact your local fire department.

  • Talk to children about fire safety. Children accidentally set many of the fires that harm them. Teach children not to play with matches and lighters. If they see matches or lighters within reach, teach them not to touch but go tell a grown up right away.
  • Teach children the DON'T HIDE, GO OUTSIDE rule in the event of a fire. Fires are scary, but they should NEVER hide in closets or under beds when there is a fire.
  • To escape during a fire, teach children to FALL & CRAWL. It is easier to breath in a fire if you stay low while getting out. Use the back of your hand to test if a door is hot before you open it. If it is hot, try to use another way out.
  • Practice STOP, DROP and ROLL: If clothes catch on fire, don’t run.  Stop where you are, drop to the ground and roll your body back and forth until the fire is out.  Running makes the fire burn faster.
  • Teach children to never go back into a burning building for any reason.  If someone is missing, tell a firefighter.
  • Make a family fire plan and practice it. The plan should include identifying two exits from each room and marking an outside meeting place. Practice escaping by both exits to be sure windows are not stuck and screens can be quickly taken out.
  • Make sure street signs and address numbers are easily visible so fire trucks and emergency responders can find where they need to be.
  • Teach children what a fire alarm sounds like and make sure that it will effectively wake them in the middle of the night.
  • Ensure smoke detectors are installed on every floor and in the sleeping areas of your home, and that batteries are changed twice per year. Carbon Monoxide detectors are also recommended. Test these alarms to make sure they can effectively wake family members.
  • If there are security bars or locks on doors, make sure all family members know how to release them.  All family members should be able to escape from the second floor.
  • Know your local emergency number. Put stickers and magnets with emergency numbers on your refrigerator and every telephone in the house.

Parents should also take steps to learn about their child’s school or child care fire safety plan, as part of an overall emergency plan. They should also ensure that any family friends have evacuation plans in case a child spends the night elsewhere.

Keeping Expectant Mothers and Children Protected during Wildfires

DeMarrais picJeanne-Aimee De Marrais, Advisor, Domestic Emergencies, Save the Children

Washington, D.C.

June 28, 2012


Wildfires continue to wreak havoc in Colorado, forcing more than 32,000 people to evacuate their homes, and destroying over 15,000 acres of land, according to this report by Reuters.

Of the thousands of families uprooted by the Colorado fires, or during any disaster for that matter, pregnant women and children are often the most vulnerable. That’s why Save the Children is releasing the following two-partguidance—a combination of tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and our own disaster preparedness experts—tohelp expectant mothers and families with young children stay safe and protected during the Colorado wildfires or any fire emergency. 

Tips for expectant mothers and parents with young children facing evacuation

  • Be prepared to evacuate quickly and have important items (such as copies of medical records and medications) ready to go— you may not have much time.
  • When checking into a shelter or temporary housing, alert the staff if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.
  • If pregnant, seek prenatal care even if it is not with your usual provider. 
  • Make sure health care providers at the shelter know about any special needs or health problems that you or your child have, or any medicines you might be taking (both over the counter and prescription.)
  • If you don’t have your infant’s medicine with you, ask health care providers at the shelter for assistance in getting it.
  • Make sure your baby gets plenty of breast milk or formula, and you drink enough water.
  • Pregnant women and children should stay indoors, if possible, to keep from Avoid breathing smoke or fumes, rest often and stay indoors if possible.
  • If you’re pregnant, rest often and get plenty of water.

 (Guidelines derived from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. To see the complete guidance–Wildfires: Information for Pregnant Women and Parents of Young Infants–please visit http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/Emergency/WildFires.htm)

For more information on how to keep you and your children safe during a wildfire, visit the website of the Center for Disease and Control Prevention.

General fire safety tips for families

Save the Children wishes to remind parents, teachers, and caregivers about the importance of child fire safety. About 80 percent of all fire-related deaths and injuries occur in the home, and young children are at a particularly high risk. They may not understand the danger or may not be able to escape. Children under the age of 5 account for almost half of all home fire victims. Children in the poorest homes face the greatest risk of death. Every family member should know exactly what to do in case of a fire emergency. Precious seconds can be lost when someone can’t find a way out in the dark or does not know how to release a window lock. Having a family fire safety plan and practicing it will save lives.

Here are some tips for keeping families safe. For further guidance specific to your community, contact your local fire department.

  • Talk to children about fire safety. Children accidentally set many of the fires that harm them. Teach children not to play with matches and lighters. If they see matches or lighters within reach, teach them not to touch but go tell a grown up right away.
  • Teach children the DON’T HIDE, GO OUTSIDE rule in the event of a fire. Fires are scary, but they should NEVER hide in closets or under beds when there is a fire.
  • To escape during a fire, teach children to FALL & CRAWL. It is easier to breath in a fire if you stay low while getting out. Use the back of your hand to test if a door is hot before you open it. If it is hot, try to use another way out.
  • Practice STOP, DROP and ROLL: If clothes catch on fire, don’t run.  Stop where you are, drop to the ground and roll your body back and forth until the fire is out.  Running makes the fire burn faster.
  • Teach children to never go back into a burning building for any reason.  If someone is missing, tell a firefighter.
  • Make a family fire plan and practice it. The plan should include identifying two exits from each room and marking an outside meeting place. Practice escaping by both exits to be sure windows are not stuck and screens can be quickly taken out.
  • Make sure street signs and address numbers are easily visible so fire trucks and emergency responders can find where they need to be.
  • Teach children what a fire alarm sounds like and make sure that it will effectively wake them in the middle of the night.
  • Ensure smoke detectors are installed on every floor and in the sleeping areas of your home, and that batteries are changed twice per year. Carbon Monoxide detectors are also recommended. Test these alarms to make sure they can effectively wake family members.
  • If there are security bars or locks on doors, make sure all family members know how to release them.  All family members should be able to escape from the second floor.
  • Know your local emergency number. Put stickers and magnets with emergency numbers on your refrigerator and every telephone in the house.

Parents should also take steps to learn about their child’s school or child care fire safety plan, as part of an overall emergency plan. They should also ensure that any family friends have evacuation plans in case a child spends the night elsewhere.