Purposely setting off the household smoke alarm in the middle of the night might sound like an ornery prank. But in reality, staging a fire-minus the actual flames-in one's home is actually a great way to prepare for a potential fire.
"This is something parents don't usually do that we'd like to get them in the habit of practicing," said Chief C.W. Durham of the Marietta Fire Department.
Encouraging the realistic fire drills is one of the many messages area fire departments are trying to drive home during Fire Prevention Week, which runs through Saturday.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
St. Mary Elementary students in Paige Greathouse’s second grade class ask questions after evacuating the Marietta Fire Department’s fire simulation trailer during a fire prevention class at the school Monday.
During the week, which is folded into the larger overall Fire Prevention Month, some area fire departments will be visiting area schools and opening up their fire departments for tours in an effort to give kids the tools to prevent a fire or, in a worst case scenario, escape from one safely.
Over 1,000 elementary school students in Marietta will step inside the Marietta City Fire Department fire and storm simulation trailer this week, said Durham.
While no real fire ever starts in the trailer, it does mimic the real situation in several ways, explained MFD fireman Pat Molden.
At a glance
Replace smoke alarm batteries twice a year.
Test smoke alarms once a year.
Replace old smoke alarms at least once every 10 years.
Have all heating appliances, including furnaces and fireplaces, checked out by a professional.
Have a fire escape plan for every room in a home and practice those plans.
Stay in the kitchen when cooking with an open flame and in the home when cooking anything else.
Follow the laws regarding outdoor burning and always keep a water supply at hand.
Source: National Fire Protection Association
"The door gets heated at the bottom, so if you feel it and it's hot, we teach the kids not to open that door," he said.
The trailer also fills with smoke, at which point the students evacuate and pretend to place a call to 911.
There is also a small kitchen inside the trailer where students are taught basic kitchen safety practices.
Kitchen safety is the main message of this year's fire prevention week and a message that adults should also take to heart, said Durham.
"I know its a busy time of year and people want to mutlitask. But if you put something in the oven and then go outside to do yard work, you're not going to be able to hear an alarm going off," he said.
For that reason, individuals should always stay in the kitchen when cooking with an open flame and should not leave the house when cooking in the oven or microwave.
It is also a good rule of thumb to keep a three foot safety zone around cooking surfaces and even when transporting hot food, said Durham.
Area volunteer fire departments are also gearing up for some fire prevention activities this month.
The Little Hocking Volunteer Fire Department was at Little Hocking Elementary with a fire truck and squad Wednesday to teach fire prevention to kindergarten, first, and second graders. Today they will bring the class to Little Hocking pre-schoolers, said Little Hocking VFD Chief Mike Chevalier.
Volunteer firefighters will be giving tours of the vehicles and teaching fire basic fire prevention such as "stop, drop, and roll" and avoiding fire hazards.
The department is also hosting an open house and pancake breakfast at Little Hocking VFD Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.. The breakfast will feature fire truck rides and donations will be accepted.
The Lowell-Adams Volunteer Fire Department will be taking fire simulation trailer to Lowell Elementary on Oct. 18.
They will also have a fireman dress up in full gear so children know not to be afraid if they ever encounter one, said L-A Chief Josh Harris.
"A new thing we'll be bringing into the school this year is our thermo imaging camera, which lets us see where someone might be trapped in a building based on heat sensors," said Harris.
Fire prevention week is always a good time to take care of those easy housekeeping items such as checking smoke detectors and changing batteries.
The Marietta Fire Department has smoke detectors available at their three stations year round for people who need them, said Durham.
It is also a great time of year to think about fireplace and furnace maintenance.
"At this point the furnace has been dormant for nine months, so there's a lot of potential for something to be wrong," he said.
It is a good idea to have a professional come in and make sure everything is up to code as far as any heating devices go.
Also, people should be wary of outdoor burning as the weather dries up.
"Always have a water supply on hand. Never leave it unattended," he said.
The Environmental Protection Agency sets rules for municipalities and rural areas regarding what can and cannot be burnt and how large fires can be.
For more information on the rules, individuals can contact their local fire department.