Monday, February 7, 2011

The fire extinguisher

When was the last time you used a fire extinguisher?  Do you even own one?  You should have several: at minimum you should have one for the kitchen, one in your bedroom, and one in the garage or shop.  Do you know how to use it?  How about your kids?  It's one of those things that you can't really do live practice unless you have the money to spare to get them refilled.  My larger one costs $80 for the refill, so we don't use it unless we need to.  We do have smaller ones and it may not be a bad idea to have a little fire going in the yard and let the kids try to put it out.  Depends on whether I have any extra money floating around that doesn't have a name to it. 
Just because we don't use them with live fire doesn't mean we don't practice.  Each of the kids knows where each fire extinguisher is located.  They also know how to use them.  You pull the hose out of the holder.  You pull the pin.  You squeeze the grip and point the hose to the base of the flames.  The kids know that if there is a fire in the house they are to ask the grownup if help is needed.  If they can be of service bringing the extinguisher or even using the extinguisher; the adult will guide them.  Do they need to just go outside and wait by the garden?  Should they get a hose and pull it into the house?  Knowing the procedural steps to follow during an emergency is really important and needs to be practiced as much or more than the actual act of using the extinguisher. 
There's a boy in Boy's class at school who was badly burned not too long ago.  The story I've been told (and coming 2nd hand from Boy isn't always accurate) is that boy's mother was melting wax in her kitchen.  It caught on fire and the little boy wanted to help his mother put out the fire.  He grabbed the burning pot and tried carrying it to the sink.  He dropped it and got burned on his hands and feet.  He was so badly hurt that he is out of school and needs skin grafts.  While everyone at school has been talking about what a brave little hero the boy was by trying to help his mother, I am trying to teach the kids a different lesson. 
Remember your priorities.  Your well being is more important than your stuff (and easy to remember if you are well insured).  When the boy was injured did he rush in to help his mother?  Did she need the help?  Did he get in her way?  He was hurt when he dropped the pot.  Was he so rushed that he didn't use a potholder or a towel to protect himself? Could the fire have been put out using a lid or baking soda?  Perhaps the fire would have extinguished itself if the flame was turned off?  So many questions need to be answered.  So many teaching moments for the other kids...

1 comment:

  1. I asked my kids what they should do if there was a fire and they said run outside. That was what we have always taught them. It never occurred to me that they should ask if there's anything they can do to help before they head out the door for safety. My prayers go out to the little boy in your grandson's class.