Each year, the National Fire Protection Association recognizes as Fire Prevention Week the calendar week in which October 9 falls. On October 9, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire started, killing 250 people and causing more than $160 million dollars in property damage. Fire Prevention Week is an excellent opportunity to teach -- and re-teach -- children about the dangers of fire and how to prevent fire and fire-related injuries.
On October 9, 1911, the Fire Marshals Association of North American, which became the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), inaugurated Fire Prevention Day. The date marks the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, a disaster that killed 250 people and destroyed thousands of buildings.
If there was any positive side to that devastating event, the infamous fire was responsible for turning people's focus from fighting fires to preventing fires before they started. In 1992, the fire safety observance was extended to cover the week that includes the October 9 anniversary date. Nearly 1,000 children under age 14 die in house fires annually, and Fire Prevention Week offers an excellent opportunity to educate children about how to handle fire emergencies and, equally important, how to prevent fires in the first place. The following Web resources can help educators accomplish those goals.
Welcome to the USFA's Kids Page: Where the Fun Starts!
The USFA -- the United States Fire Administration -- is part of the federal government. The kids page of their Web site, developed for kids in the early elementary grades, offers information on smoke alarms, home fire safety, and more. There are interesting facts, quizzes, games, and a test to pass in order to Become a Junior Fire Marshall. A hot button takes users to the Parent-Teacher Lounge, which includes lesson plans and other resources.
The Survive Alive Program
Children aged eight and older can easily navigate this well-designed Web site. Users reach the Survive Alive Village from Tour the Survive Alive House on the main page. One of the tools for teaching fire safety is a simulated fire, and each room includes important fire-safety lessons. There is even an on-line club for kids.
Sparky the Fire Dog
Introduce your kids to Sparky, the official "spokesdog" of the National Fire Protection Association. Click on Sparky's News for current information and news about such events the October Fire Prevention Week. Kids can submit on-line questions to Sparky about fire education and other safety issues or learn about Dalmatians, fire trucks, and more.
N.Y. Department of State: Hershey's Fire Safety Activity Book
Hershey the dog presents this clever guide, which includes puzzles, coloring pages, and more.
Fire Safety: A Thematic Resource Unit
Look here for songs and poems for Fire Prevention Week, ideas and activities for your students, and related library resources. The activities include songs, poems, and art projects. This is part of the Kinder Korner Web site, a resource site for teachers and others interested in early childhood education. Although the page has commercial elements, it provides useful suggestions for parents, teachers, and others looking for fire safety ideas for children from pre-K through second grade.
Family Fire Safety
Parenthood.com offers excellent suggestions for fire safety throughout the house. Children can get involved in such projects as designing a fire escape plan or planning a visit to a local fire department. The site also has other excellent health and safety resources.
Lauren P. Gattilia
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Links Updated 10/01/2011