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Russellville fire, police officers talk to students about safety

Oct. 20 the Russellville Fire Department visited with West Elementary students to chat about fire safety. Members of the Russellville Police Department visited at the same time. The event was part of a series of visits the two safety agencies are doing at all of the Russellville schools.

Both groups said they wanted to get to know the children and help them be more comfortable with being around firefighters and police officers. In an emergency, children are often frightened, and having met firefighters and police officers in person can help them be less afraid.

Russellville Fire Chief Mansell explained appropriate reasons for calling 911 and the need for families to have an agreed-upon meeting place in the event of a fire – somewhere outside, preferably in the front yard and not near the road. He also explained to the students that if their clothing catches fire, they should cover their face with their hands, stop what they are doing, drop to the ground and roll around until the fire is out.

“If your house is on fire and you get outside, stay outside. Don’t go back in for anything, not even a pet,” Mansell said.

“We teach the kids what not to do,” explained Russellville Fire Marshal Justin Green. “Don’t play with matches or things cooking on the stove or extension cords. If you wake up to a fire, hold the back of your hand near your closed bedroom door. If it’s warm, there’s probably fire on the other side, and you should consider trying to escape through a window.

“Smoke can fill a house quickly, and crawling low on the floor can help keep your lungs from filling with smoke as quickly and give you time to get out.”

In order to help familiarize the children with what to do, the RFD brought a special fire trailer with a model bedroom and simulated smoke so the children could practice rolling out of bed, staying low to the floor and crawling out a window. Students also had the opportunity to see a police car up close and to see fire engines first hand and learn about some of the safety items kept on them.

“Having a working smoke alarm is very important to helping make sure people can get out safely in the event of a fire,” said Mansell. “A couple of years ago, a student who had just been through our school safety program helped herself and her mother get safely out of the house during a fire later that day.

“Knowing what to expect helps kids do what they need to if faced with an emergency situation.”

Anyone who doesn’t have a working smoke alarm or whose current smoke alarm is more than 10 years old can call the fire department at 256-332-8765, email or search for russellvillealfire on Facebook and send a message about receive a free smoke alarm. Requesters should leave their full name, home address and contact phone number, and someone will contact them to schedule to install a new smoke alarm as soon as possible.

Those using natural gas or propane in their homes are especially encouraged to also get and install a carbon monoxide detector. People with more than one floor in their home should buy a fire safety ladder to let them be able to safely escape through a window if needed – making sure to buy one that is long enough to reach the ground.