Back to School Fire Safety Guide
Fire Prevention Safety for Parents, Teachers and Students
On December 1, 1958 a tragic fire at Our Lady Queen of Angels grade school in Chicago killed 95 adults and children. Since that day, there has been an increasing emphasis on fire safety in schools. All over America, school is back in session and it is important to address fire safety. However, fire safety should be addressed in not only the school, but at home.
Fire Safety for Parents
Fire safety begins at home. Parents should teach their children how to handle a fire emergency. Teaching children fire safety will help them to think clearly in the event of an emergency. These lessons can help to save their life and the lives of others around them. Be sure children and other family members know what to do if a fire breaks out. Establish a plan and go through it with everyone in the family. This plan should include exits, how to call 911 and give clear directions, where to meet, where extinguishers are located, and how to properly use them. See an example plan below:
Fire Safety for Teachers
Teachers’ first responsibility is to swiftly and calmly evacuate their students. Start by maintaining a roster of students present each day so everyone is accounted for during the event of an emergency. Include signage and discuss exits as well as other important safety measures for evacuation with students. Assign students a “buddy” to assist them in the evacuation process if needed. Teachers should also have basic training in fire extinguisher use and where extinguishers are located. Many educational facility fires occur from overlooked heat sources: lab equipment, coffee makers and food preparation sources, and from overloaded extension cords on equipment. Daily closing time inspections are a necessity. All flammable materials need to be safely secured, and all electrical and HVAC equipment is operating safely.
Be sure to practice fire drills with students and teach them how to remain calm in an emergency. Speed, panic, and confusion can easily lead to serious injuries. Teachers need to remain calm and in control of emotions to help insure confidence in students so everyone can get to safety.
Fire Safety for Students
Students should be instructed on the importance of obeying instructions when an alarm is sounded. Since intentional fires are a possibility they should report dangerous behavior to a teacher. There have been incidents where violent attacks on schools involved the use of propane tanks to cause harm. “If you see something, say something” is a way to prevent intentional fires on school properties. Students should also know how to operate a fire extinguisher and how to extinguish fire if clothing is ignited.
Basic Checklist for School Fire Safety
School fire safety begins at home. Students need to be taught how to act when a fire is detected.
A plan of action is required and regular practice drills scheduled.
The site (home or school) should be inspected on a regular basis for fire safety issues.
Exits and locations of fire extinguishers should be clearly marked.
Learning to be calm, orderly and observant when an alarm is sounded.
Fires in educational facilities can become tragedies of immense trauma. The greatest danger in a fire emergency is caused from panic and disorder. Knowing what to do and regular practice will go a long way in saving lives from fire. Training, preparation and practice of evacuation procedures are the most effective ways to prevent loss of life and injury.