HomeSchools & YouthValentine Students Get Fire Safety Education

Valentine Students Get Fire Safety Education

Valentine Elementary School fourth grade teachers Sue Walworth, Mary Van Hiel, and Lisa Goyco walked their students to Huntington Middle School’s Kenneth F. White Auditorium for a fire safety presentation last Tuesday.

The presentation was prepared by MySafe:CA, a organization that partners with local fire departments to teach students about fire and life safety. Cameron Barrett and Bill Whitney of MySafe:CA met the fourth graders at the auditorium.

“They’re the ones who protect you every single day that you’re here,” Barrett said of the firefighter/paramedics of San Marino’s Station 91.

“Isn’t that neat? Doesn’t that kind of make you feel calm and secure knowing there’s a bunch of professional firefighters that are literally minutes away that are going to take care of you in case there’s an emergency?” she told the students. “We know firefighters are heroes,” Barrett continued. “You can be a hero, too. Every single one of us can be a hero if we learn how to keep ourselves and our family safe.”

So Barrett taught students three easy steps.

First, she explained that every family needs a fire escape plan—examples of which Barrett and Whitney sent home with their audience of heroes.

“A family escape is the same thing [as a fire drill], except we don’t do it at school. Where do we do it?”

“At home!” the group of approximately 100 students enthusiastically responded during this interactive assembly.

Barrett encouraged each student to draw a map of their home, and mark all the exits, including doors and windows. Then identify two ways out and a safe meeting place, which, for example, could be a tree or a mailbox on the block.

She stressed that the most important thing is to get out of the house and to not go back into the house in the event of a fire.

“You are the family hero!” Barrett told the students, noting that each student should encourage their family to practice their escape plan.

Next, Barrett said it’s important to have working smoke detectors. From smoke detectors to carbon monoxide detectors, Barrett and Whitney taught their audience all about these detectors and the behavior of smoke, including several helpful tips.

Cameron Barrett, on stage, and Bill Whitney, right, teach fire and life safety skills to Valentine Elementary School fourth grade students. Kev Kurdoghlian Photo

New detectors, they said, are installed with batteries with a 10-year life span, meaning there’s no need to replace the batteries. Instead, smoke detectors can’t be kept longer than 10 years.

It’s important to install smoke detectors in rooms where people sleep and in hallways, but it’s not necessary to have them installed in the kitchen. “Unless you constantly want to listen to beeping when someone burns the toast,” she said.

“Smoke is also poisonous. Now we surround ourselves with plastics,” she said, contrasting it with materials previously used by people. “[Plastics] burn really fast,” she said.” The time you have to get out of your home if it catches fire is two minutes.”

To get out of a burning building, she explained, the key is to “get low and go.” But not before checking off the third step, which is to get a Go Bag on each person’s back. A Go Bag consists of a warm jacket, comfortable shoes, whistle, and flashlight with extra batteries.

Just as the MySafe:CA presentation came to a close, San Marino Fire Department Division Chief Mark Dondanville walked into the auditorium.

Dondanville immediately allowed the audience of fourth graders to put its recently learned lessons into practice with a “get low and go” exit from the auditorium.

Now on the lawn by the turnaround, students met San Marino Firefighter/Paramedics Brian Campbell and Anthony Alvarado, who introduced the students to San Marino’s ambulance.

Campbell and Alvarado showed the students the department’s electric gurney, backboard, heart monitor, drug box, and trauma box, which Campbell called their “big first aid kit.”

Students also walked through the ambulance, or San Marino’s ‘mobile hospital,’ before returning to class.

MySafe:CA returned to Valentine Elementary School on Thursday, May 25 and visited Carver on May 26.


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