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  • I need help with teaching fire safety to kids!

    I'm one of those types that enjoys being invisible and doing all of those "behind the scenes" jobs but lately I've been up to my eyeballs in fire safety activities. These usually involve adults and LOTS of kids. I love kids! The problem is, I can't seem to communicate with them well. I either bore them or make them cry. I don't know why they cry...maybe I look scary or something. It's hard enough for me to stand there in a crowd as it is (personally I'd rather crawl under the fire engine and hide)
    and now I have the added problem of terrorizing little kids. Can any of you offer advice/pointers on how I can reach out to children of all ages in an interesting and NON-scary way?
    Thanks!!
    Probie Name: HurryUpMichelle!!

  • #2
    Try using a clown costume.

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    • #3
      Myself and several other firefighters from my company have done a fire saftey program at the local head start (pre-kindergarden) for several years. The first year I was asked to do it, myself and the other guy that went with me had no clue what we were doing. And just like you we scared the crap out of most of the kids. We kind of figured one of the things we did wrong was, we came in dressed in full gear. The next few times we came in dressed in street clothes, then as the safety talk progressed we had someone put thier gear on. Just a piece at a time at a nice slow pace, that way they got used to the transformation and no one seemed as anxious, even after putting on an airpack. We also passed around pieces of gear for the kids to examine for themselves. We let them try stuff on, but didn't let them stray. We didn't have to teach the kids much because thier teachers pretty much had everything covered. We just re-inforeced it and tried to keep thier attention. We must be doing something right because the kids seem to look forward to the program every year. I hope this helps you out. God bless and stay safe.
      Randall E. Guntrum FF/EMT
      If lights, sirens, and air horns do not attract the attention of a driver, he or she is too drunk to be assisted by a paint scheme.

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      • #4
        Most important thing when dealing with kids is to talk to them in words they'll understand. A lot of firefighters talk shop to sound smart in front of the adults. I'd suggest sitting at their level to start. It's intimidating to see someone tower over you when you're a kid.

        You can wear a uniform but leave the gear to the side to start. Once you establish a rapport with the children you can have someone put the gear on, ONE ITEM AT A TIME. This shows the kids that you are not some monster but a person just like them.

        Always allow them to ask questions at the end and be willing to hear the "my mommy does this and my daddy did that" stories. They are part of the fun. And of course, show them the trucks. That's what they really want to see

        Good luck with it. It's tough but very rewarding.

        Stay safe out there everyone!
        Tom

        Never Forget 9-11-2001

        Stay safe out there!

        IACOJ Member

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        • #5
          hey michelle...

          i am a teacher, so i ironically have not been able to do much of the fire prevention stuff in my house (seeing as i am working while the little ones are running around the firehouse).

          The one suggestion I can offer you is just a repeat... very young children have a bit of a hard time separating reality from fantasy... so, if you come to class all dressed up, you may very well freak them out a smidge.

          Teaching elementary kids is all in the set up. You have to get them to understand what you're doing before you do it... but they have to understand it on *their* level. So before you put on the airpack, lead them through why we wear it... and don't let the PASS go off unexpectadly ... have fun with it... ask them why they wear gloves... then ask them why you think we wear gloves... to throw snowballs?

          you know... little stuff like that. Just be careful with students under grade 2... if you ask them a question, you are liable to get a story that may or may not have anything to do with what you're asking... then you'll have 25 little hands up ready to tell you completely irrelevant stuff... Let them participate, but you'll have to reclaim the floor after you notice the first wack-a-doo story about how one time my grandma took me to the park and we were walking the dog and we got ice cream...

          Dunno what else... just make sure you set everything up before you throw the gear on... fires are scary; they know that much... and to a little kid, firefighters in full turnout with scary bottle things and axes and big long poles mean something bad is happening...

          Good luck, i'd be happy to help if i can.

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          • #6
            Michelle:

            We have had the same guy doing our Fire Prevention for about 5 years now and the kids at the school all know him and look forward to him coming there. This year I get to run a lot of the show because his job no longer allows him to take the time off. I am pretty nervous! But I eased myself in last year, met a lot of the kids, and sat and talked with some of the teachers that teach the disabled children in the school. I learned a lot. Who better to tell you how the kids react to things than their teacher? The smallest kids - Kindergarten - simply get a tour of the truck, get to sit on it, look at our tools, ask questions, put our gear on if they want, etc. We always show them a fully geared person with a pack so they understand that if this person comes into your home and talks to you like "Darth Vader" it is because the air in the tank helps them to breathe so they can rescue them and get them safely and quickly out of the house that is on fire. We also enforce with every grade that they are not to hide in closets, under beds, etc. The first graders get a fire drill, the second graders get a relay with 3 of us sitting on chairs with phones and they are to call 911 and let us know their name, address, phone number, and what the situation is.....the group that finishes first gets a special prize. The third graders get a demonstration on how to stay under smoke and roll out of bed and exit their home safely and they get to lay on a cot and we hold a sheet above them like smoke and they roll out from under it. The fourth graders get to learn stop drop and roll techniques and we tape red balloons to them and as they roll they pop the balloon simulating that the fire is out. The fifth graders get either a video on fires and how quickly they spread, etc. or a demonstration on our gear, and a question answer period. I got lots of "I didn't know girls could fight fires, can I do that when I get bigger?". It is a lot of fun...that is the key to it all. The kids have to enjoy themselves and not feel like you are talking down to them or using too big words for them. We take the whole school day and each class gets to see us, and I have run into kids again in other places like the grocery store and they come running over and tell their parents that "she is the fire lady that came to my school and I wore her helmet, and she taught us about fire and how to escape from the house". We ask all the kids to draw an escape plan for their home and tell them they can stop at the station on Monday night or mail it to us and we will go over it with them..a few of them actually bring their parents down and it is pretty cool. You will get the hang of it....and remember to always call yourself fire fighter so and so...we introduce ourselves to every class and that way they can feel like they know us and it makes them more comfortable. Good luck to you!
            Never forget those who went before and sacrified to make us better and stronger as a fire service and a nation. 09-11-01 forever etched in time and our memories. God Speed Boys!

            Comment


            • #7
              This is great advice! I can already see where I'm messing up. I try not to use big words but usually I am a total screw-up when it comes to putting things into Kid language. I had a teacher haul six kids into my ambulance and she said, "Tell them all about the ambulance!" and I was a wreck! I was sooooooo nervous and shy and all I did was bumble around looking like a dork and then I said, "Over here we have the IV needles.." and all of the kids screamed "NEEDLES ?!" and tried to run away! After that the Teacher did the rest of the talking while I stood there turning red as a beet. Another time I slowly put my gear on and as I explained each item and put it on I watched the kids' eyes grow wider and wider. As soon as I snapped my regulator onto my mask and took a breath they all started bawling. I kept saying, "Oh sweeties this is just my air making noise!" but that just made it worse. The parents were staring at me like I was a freak and I was about to climb up on the hosebed and hide!!! As you can see, I don't have much luck. But I'll take your advice and try to make myself less of a Monster and more of a Friendly Firefighter to the poor terrorized kids in my community.
              Any more advice is absolutely welcome!!!
              Probie Name: HurryUpMichelle!!

              Comment


              • #8
                Michelle - remember at that age you didn't like needles either..and scary noises are scary noises to a kid..no matter if is the air pack and regulator or PASS device making the noise. Best suggestion is to put the equipment on the ground and say "OK kids, I am going to get all ready like I am going to a fire...what do I do first?" Let them help you dress by telling you what to put on. Then if they stumble - example they don't say anything about the nomex hood, show it to them and say.."this is my fire hood...we wear this to protect our hair, and neck from the fire." Then when it is time to put on the air show them how we turn it on..take it apart and show them what it is made up of..the pack and the bottle..if you have to..then say "OK, now my bottle is turned on and I am going to put the pack on so I can get ready to put on my mask to protect my face and to feed air to me in the smoke." This will help them greatly to understand that we wear the equipment to protect ourselves and to help them get out of the fire. You have to be VERY patient with kids above all. If they are looking at you like you are growing a second head...slow down, ask them to repeat what you have taught them..kids learn well this way. And yes you have to entertain a few "one time my dad fell and broke his leg and the fire trucks showed up and made their sirens go on.........." stories. Let a few of the kids tell these and ask them what they did and if they were scared and stuff like that. Make them a part of the situation. Any other help you need just holler. Take care.
                Never forget those who went before and sacrified to make us better and stronger as a fire service and a nation. 09-11-01 forever etched in time and our memories. God Speed Boys!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Having assisted for three years and two years of doing it on my own here are some ideas.
                  K-2 they will get knowledge of what # to call
                  when there is an emergency and why not to prank call that #.
                  then we move to covering stop, drop, and roll
                  which gets to fun since we ask for volunteers and usually you have to choose two or three but will get 20 hands.
                  We have a video which is age appropriate for each grade that goes through a lot of stuff.
                  Then we have a FF dress up in turnout gear and explain the purpose of each part of the gear. It end when the FF sounds like "Darth Vader" but be alert for kids who become scared and try to comfort them while still moving forward.
                  3-6
                  These kids will get the basics and stop, drop ,and roll but they like to ask more questions and allow some but not to many.
                  Have the kids pick up and feel the turnout gear and they will understand why we have to wear it. Take the kids outside and show them an engine or ladder truck. Be able to explain the gear on how it work and what it is used for. In addition you could also invite the class to the station for a tour and same goes for younger grades. We do that then activate our pagers so they know how we know when we have a call.
                  7-8
                  These kids by this grade have heard all the basics but still get it anyway but after that it moves on to much more challenging things.
                  We have laid hose out in the gym and had kids dress up in gear and go through the course and some will put air packs on their back so know the weight we deal with.
                  We also will give them a chance to learn how to use a fire extinguisher and they love that. We get our local extinguisher service company to donate extras and we only pay half of the refill cost.
                  High School
                  We have taken junk cars to the parking lot and given them extication demos and explain why we cut off roofs, roll dashes forward.
                  Also we may give them an extinguisher class also and explain why and what tools we carry on an engine versus whats on a rescue squad.
                  The possabilities are endless what you can do for a program but work within a budget or get your department to budget for fire prevention.

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                  • #10
                    What great advice!

                    Probie Name: HurryUpMichelle!!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Chelle,

                      Hey remember one thing bout kids they will listen if you get on their level. Use words they understand. I will always have kids do a lil game with me I give them a blind fold and we turn tables or desk over what ever we can to make a obstacle course and make the kids crawl threw so that when they are done the know what lil we can see or feel. We have a Trailer that our County fire service built that we use mostly so that is something that you may not be able to get a hold of but we built one in house using donated lumber and other parts it contains a door with heat pad and window. So you can simulate feeling and exiting. Also use the USFA Exty and Hydro books for K-2nd graders they love them... And they are free tooo!!!!!!

                      Truckie
                      "A 4x4 **** son plywood comes in bigger sheets than that make that hole bigger boy" There are those out there that know what I mean!!!!!!

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                      • #12
                        We have a fire safety house that has been great for us. It contains a livingroom , kitchen, and little stairs for a bedroom upstairs. This has been great for the older kids. We talk about home safety, kitchen safety, the door heats up, and we have fake smoke. Note: kids with asthma cannot be in the smoke part.
                        We have just started a clown troop. They are GREAT. They had a prof. clown come in and teach them how to dress, how to produce skits with music,and how to clown around. Before they went public, we got a bunch of kids from our ff familys and went to the station to see them. It really held the younger ones attentions. The under 6 age group is hard because of there short attention spans. This worked out great. The kids all still remember the clowns and also the messages of fire safety , that all there skits were based on. They have great costumes and props that were reletively cheap to make. And they all have names. and they all sing to lyrics that they have made up to music about fire safety. This has been great for us, they go to schools ,daycares civic groups, and whoever has a group of smaller children to teach fire safety to. Good luck. rm41
                        33057123

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                        • #13
                          Hey Michelle, Everyone has been giving you great advice. Just something else to throw in your hat of fresh ideas. It depends on what kind of budget you have to work with. Our department started out a few years back with very small puppet show that was done to a soundtrack. The stage was made of a PVC structure and very cheap. We didn't have much of a budget the first year, the chief was leary. After he saw the show and the response from the teachers and kids he was full of ideas that he wanted to see. The budget went up and so did the quality of the show. We now have a custom built stage with a sound system, mixer board, custom trailer for hauling it all, a robotronic fire truck, smoke machine, and puppets out the ying yang. It has become a well known show appearing at the ICHIEFS Conference the past 2 years. You can start small and work your way up. And finding help won't be a problem. The guys and gals all love playing puppeteers. Another things is try getting one of the more popular teachers put the fire gear on towards the end of the presentation. The kids can watch and usually respond well. GOOD LUCK!!!
                          These are my opinions and not those of any department I work for. Of course that depends on where I'm working that day. Have a great day and be safe.

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